In Memoriam -- Altan Ünver
Excepts from Patrick Oliver-Kelley's letter to friends Ron and
What so many forget is that Altan started micro lending before it was
fashionable, before Gramin Bank and such, got all the publicity. But Altan
was not of publicity. I remember the first days of our meetings with the
Ambassador Parker T. Hart, explaining that there were just NO small loans
available at the village level. If I remember rightly, the smallest loan the
Ziraat Banksı offered was about 15 lifetimes earnings of a Turkish villager.
A stratospheric obligation few if any villager could or would undertake.
Here, Altan was describing a loan of TL- hundred lira- at that time, that
was about ten US dollars, for a chicken farm! Recall the chicken of the era?
It would have better been used as tire rubber, than eaten... and eggs, if
available, cost a sultan's ransom.
When the Ambassador told us about PL480 and how that might be used for the
projects and he thought some of those funds might be made available, we
bounced with excitement. We thought we'd cut the Gordion knot. And I
think we had.
I also recall the subsequent hard labor Altan and you, I might add, put in
to create the Development Fund. It was truly visionary. But it took not only
sweat and perseverance, it took honesty...not to speak of accountability,
because it wasn't practiced, only nodded to, maybe, if offered, accepted,
but seldom demanded. Altan insisted on it. and I remember Altan as one of
the most honorably honest person I've ever met.
Reading your other remarks [in the Buralarda article], I hadn't known
what a wide
swath Altan cut, but I'm not surprised. I recall how dedicated he was to his
mission....I could understand as a American volunteer, we, or I could
dedicate two years for something we sensed was worthy...whatever that
something might be.
But I couldn't really understand a Turk who had left the country, escaped
the day-to-day demands of living at the village level, who had started a
life in a new country, i.e. the US. 'Hey this was easy street,' Why would he
SEEK to rejoin the fight? Altan gave up the glamour and returned to his
homeland, dedicated his
life to stay in humble surroundings and he moved that Mountain.
Yours was a thoughtful and welcomed remembrance.
Thank you for alerting me to Altan's passing.
You can find more information
on Altan Unver at: http://www.tkv-dft.org/publications/auauthor.htm