Sahin in corona times: “Refurbishing used ABN AMRO laptops for less fortunate children in my neighbourhood”

Sahin Cakir (30) works as an analyst at ABN AMRO. He screens clients to make sure they aren’t involved in money laundering, fraud or terrorism financing. He’s also one of our volunteers at ABN AMRO Foundation. When Sahin heard that the bank is donating laptops to schools¬†during the coronavirus crisis,¬†he decided to help the primary school his daughter, Zaria (6), attends.

Don’t look away from poverty close to home

“I know that there are families at Zaria’s primary school that are having a really hard time. I know of one pupil that has to share a laptop with his brothers and sisters – and he’s not the only one at our school in this situation.” When Sahin read about ABN AMRO’s donation, he contacted the headmaster and his colleagues at ABN AMRO Foundation. “I’d almost started organising my closet by colour… so I was really in need of distraction. The Foundation’s work has come to a standstill because of the coronavirus crisis, and I miss the outings with the kids. It’s very gratifying being able to do something for them in this way.”

Not everybody has an iPad or their parents’ help

It wasn’t as easy as it seemed: to be eligible for the laptops, a school has to be affiliated with the Youth Education Fund (Jeugdeducatiefonds). But Sahin didn’t give up. He demonstrated that his primary school meets the criteria and managed to secure five laptops for children in his neighbourhood. He’s thrilled that he’s made it happen, and he talks about it with his family. “I talk to my daughter about it. I try to explain that not everybody has an iPad or can ask their parents for help with schoolwork. Some children – even at her school – aren’t as fortunate.”

No lunch on schooldays

The harsh reality hit Sahin hard when, before the crisis, he volunteered to accompany a class from a school in Amsterdam to a performance of the musical The Lion King. A 10-year-old boy cried out, ‘This is the best day of my life!’. “It was heart-breaking. He also told me he’d never been on holiday before, often went to school without any lunch and had to rely on his classmates to share their sandwiches. There’s poverty even in the Netherlands.”

Role model: “I, too, work at a bank”

Sahin sees himself as a role model for children. His Turkish roots certainly play a role here. “I’m the guy with the hard-to-pronounce name and I, too, work at a bank.” I want to show the children that there are opportunities out there, even for them.”

Good home schooling for everyone during the coronavirus crisis

ABN AMRO works with the Youth Education Fund and is donating laptops to children being home schooled right now, but who do not have a laptop; the Fund distributes the laptops. The Youth Education Fund was immediately concerned when it heard that schools were being closed. More than half the children at the schools they support grow up in problematic home situations due to financial or social problems. It’s these children especially who want to go to school – for them, school is a safe, trusted environment. Home schooling is a real challenge if you don’t have access to a laptop or a computer.

View more initiatives from colleagues in corona times.