An Inside Story That Reflects Goodness!

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Today’s guest of our “Stories Among Us” series is our colleague Semiha Özdemir. We got to know Ms. Özdemir with her support of the “Let My Hair Become Your Hair” project in our My Heart is With You Platform. Semiha contributed to a cancer patient to clutch onto the life with morale by cutting her long pure blond hair without diminishing her smile. As we wish Semiha to become an inspiration to all of us, let us listen to the details of this project with her words.

Hello Semiha. We got to know you with the video that you cut and donate your hair. Your shining light gave positive energy to everyone. Can we get to know you a little bit?

I am Semiha Özdemir, 26 years old. I am one of Ford Otosan's young employees. I have been working in the paint workshop in our factory for 8 years. I am a female group leader. I have my degree from a vocational high school. Actually, the job I love has nothing to do with the profession I studied. However, you can find a connection between them in the scope of this interview. I studied hairdressing. Therefore, I got familiar with these issues in high school. How to cut hair; how to turn it into a wig; what processes it goes through; how a woman becomes happy; I learned all of them very well.

We know that you are following the Cancer Fighters Association for 2 years. Is it due to empathy or experience? How did the "Let My Hair Become Your Hair" project come to life?

In fact, I do more than just following this association. But of course, there is a specific reason for this. I lost my mother from cancer in 2004. I guess, there is some sensitivity because of that loss. I was 10 years old then, and since I was a child, I did not understand much and could not do much. Since I could not do anything back in those days, I thought I could do something now. When I looked for something that I can do, I realized that it would be more meaningful if I added something from myself rather than the financial aspect. As you know we, women, value our hair the most. The part about myself that I love the most was my hair as well; quite long, pure yellow. I wanted to share my hair. I felt I would be happier if there was a piece of myself in it. I wanted to be an answer for cancer patients' call of hope. I set out this way.

We work in a relatively small workshop, but we have a strong bond, we are a team close to a family. By the way, I love my working environment, I would like to reiterate it here. I thought that way, one’s family will always be with her. Therefore, if I want to do something, my friends who I call my family, would also by my side. I discussed this issue with my workshop team leader and process engineer. Immediately, we worked on what to do and they directed me to create this project.

Of course, it would have been much better if this pandemic process had not been intervened. Yet, it became a successful and remarkable project. I was saddened by not being able to do something in my childhood, but finally, I feel the happiness of doing something as well.

You donate with consciousness and awareness; and it is quite special that you want to add something from yourself. How does this donation of yours reflect on a cancer patient, what is the contribution to her/him?

I saw a few videos and photos shared by the Cancer Fighters Association. Cancer patients become really happy with wigs that are produced with the donations. Their perspective on life suddenly fills with hope. This is truly a good achievement. They get one more reason to clutch onto life for not giving up. Their belief that they can overcome this disease increases with morale and motivation. Those two are great benefactors for cancer patients.

What is the process after cutting and donating your hair? Do you see the cancer patient who wears the wig that was produced with your own hair?

In fact, we can see the patients whom the wigs are given by the posts on the association's social media pages, but it is not possible to understand or know whose hair goes to whom. Because our donated hair is not enough to make a wig, as a wig can only be made of three or four people's hair. Thus, we cannot say such a thing that this wig was made of my hair. And of course, in terms of the privacy of personal data, these donations and wigs made stay anonymous. The main thing here is you providing morale to a patient with that wig rather than the wig made of your hair. Wigs are prepared in the color and length desired by cancer patients. Therefore, their wishes and happiness are much more important.

Are there any criteria for hair donation? Can anyone donate their hair?

The only criterion that stands out under normal conditions is 30 cm in length. Actually, not all wigs are made long, yet this is a criterion. I can add that your hair should be healthy and not damaged. And of course, you should be a volunteer.

After you get your hair cut and donated it, have anyone from your circle or any colleagues donated?

After the video was broadcasted, there were people who stopped my way. I got incredibly beautiful feedbacks. Some told me that they also want to donate their hair and they asked to learn how to do it. Our project is already open to access on our My Heart is with You Platform, we accept volunteers. We already have 5 friends volunteered; I hope this number will increase. Apart from my colleagues, I got particularly good feedback from my circle too. They also stated that they wanted to contribute. There is intense interest and this makes me incredibly happy.

We see you grow your hair again; will you donate once more?

Why not, I can donate again. I have the follicle anyway.

Will we see you in different projects and is there anything else you want to add?

In fact, I have some other small projects apart from the work and I plan to combine them all with Ford Otosan in the coming days. Because we received exceptionally good support in our first project and we shined light... I hope it continues. For now, let me not give any hints to keep it as a surprise. Finally, I would like to thank all my colleagues who supported me.

Semiha, we thank you as well for sharing this meaningful experience you had with us with all your sincerity and smile, and for inspiring us.