Nihal Demirci—Getty Images

“Ses yok.” No sound. Two words written on mounds of concrete after massive earthquakes reduced thousands of buildings to rubble in Turkey and Syria in February.

If these words are the symbol of hopelessness, the name Haluk Levent is the symbol of hope. The rock star has been tirelessly doing charity work through his nonprofit Ahbap. Following the disaster, when minutes meant the difference between life and death, and the Turkish government proved terribly incompetent, Ahbap was already working on the ground, saving lives. Being in the public eye in Turkey is incredibly hard, but Levent is much loved and widely trusted. He is principled. Transparent. He lists and publishes in detail where every donation goes and how many families receive help.

Haluk Levent is a bridge builder, a healer, and an artist with a big heart. He not only inspires an entire society, but also shows how a single individual can make a difference in the face of catastrophic tragedies. In an increasingly atomized world, he has made people feel like they have a friend—someone who truly cares for them and hears their silenced voices.

Shafak is a novelist, most recently of The Island of Missing Trees

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