This profile was prepared when Ibrahim Betil was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Ibrahim Betil is convinced that young people have the power to make democracy an active way of life. To advance this view, Ibrahim is striving to trigger the dynamics of Turkish society by unifying young people—the most dynamic section of society—around community service to solve social problems, thereby nurturing their individual and social consciousness. Ibrahim has experienced that the projects that are the richest in new ideas are the ones that engage young people. He has observed that youth are creative and highly focused when it comes to tackling social problems. Thus, he advocates that allowing young people to use their potential early on in their lives will make the civil society in Turkey stronger and thus the society better off down the road, unleashing the power of real democracy. To carry forward this idea, Ibrahim was one of the founders of Volunteers in Education Foundation six years ago, and then in December 2002, he set up Community Volunteers Foundation (TOG is the Turkish acronym). TOG matches 2,500 university students from 54 Turkish institutions with local and national social change initiatives throughout Turkey, providing a formative experience for young leaders to initiate and contribute to positive social change.