- Post-Conference Report
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On Thursday, 27 March, WINGSForum participants were transported to The Marmara Esma Sultan, a stunning venue in the heart of the Bosphorus, for the WINGSForum Gala Dinner, sponsored by Vodafone Foundation. A breathtaking symbol of Istanbul’s past, the walls of the Marmara date back to a time when the palace served to entertain sultans, courtiers and eminent visitors from across the world. Today, these same walls have been preserved, and along with them, their storied history. Together, we dined, danced, and mingled the night away against the stunning backdrop of its lush gardens and the shimmering Bosphorous.
Esma Sultan, daughter of Abdülaziz – the 32nd Sultan of Ottoman, was born in 1873 at Dolmabahçe Palace. She was taken to the Yildiz Palace Harem for her education at age 3. When her father was dethroned, Esma Sultan became a follower of the new tradition of leading a courtly life independent of Topkapi Palace – and of a husband.
In the 18th century, women of the dynasty entertained courtiers of the palace and leading intellectuals in their private mansions. Esma Sultan lived for 10 years in this mansion which was given to her as a wedding gift.
Performing at the Gala Dinner was the Social Inclusion Band of Vodafone Turkey Foundation, which is a subsidiary of Vodafone Turkey Foundation’s “Dreams Academy”. The academy – which was launched in 2008 in collaboration with UNDP and Alternative Life Association – supports people with disabilities who seek to break social barriers and become more active through art.
Social Inclusion Band is formed by talented young people trained at Dreams Academy music workshops and is accompanied by volunteering professional musicians. Offered an opportunity to build a career in music, the young students perform at popular venues and music festivals, sharing the stage with professional musicians such as Cahit Berkay, Babazula, Baki Duyarlar, Bengü, Baran Say. The group’s debut album, “From Dreams to Stars,” was released in limited edition in 2011.