P1070166 edited Ibrahim Koray Havva Esen cropped
 Nov 16, 2018

Young community leader gives hope

A remarkable young man has demonstrated values of family and community in a surprising way…


28 year-old Koray Barkut loves his mum Havva and his family. Sitting beside her on the couch in the home he grew up in, he talks about life growing up in a closely-knit family where honesty, hard work and giving back were valued above all else.

“My dad was a shift worker and always worked hard. Family was important to him and he worked for us so we could have a stable family home to grow up in,” says Koray.

Heavily involved in community sport in Melbourne’s outer east from a very young age, Koray, his brother Even and sister Esen, played football, cricket and netball for the same local club. His dad Ibrahim worked hard every day doing shift work, so it was up to Havva to transport the kids to all their games and training.

“The kids were so busy with all their sport,” says Havva. “It became such a part of our lives and I became very involved in all the sporting clubs. It helped me to meet so many other families in the community and make lasting friendships, especially with the kids’ friends.”

It was this incredibly strong connection through the community that forms the beginning of Koray’s remarkable story.

When Koray was just 13, Havva was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Years of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Austin Health followed, while Havva still managed to remain keenly involved in her children’s lives.  More recently, Havva has experienced a stroke, confining her to a wheelchair for five months and leaving her with ongoing difficulty walking and using her left arm. She is no longer able to drive or even write.

“She did everything for us,” says Koray. “Being so involved in sporting clubs gave me skills that help me in my life now. I have been a football coach, I now employ and lead 60 people in my job. It’s all because of my mum and my upbringing.”

After a particularly difficult few months for his mum, Koray decided to do something to help other people who might be in a similar situation.

“I wanted to raise some money for the hospital where Mum receives her treatment, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre,” says Koray. “So I sent a message to 100 of my friends from the footy club, cricket club – people who know Mum from all her involvement over the years.”

Hi all, you all know my situation with Mum being sick. I want to raise $10,000 for the hospital, can you give $100? It’d be pretty good if we could knock up the cash in 24 hours…

Within four days, Koray’s community had raised $10,000 which has since been donated to the ONJ Centre. The money will be used to help fund the Brain Tumour Support Service, a much-needed resource offering programs and support groups to help people with brain tumours.

“I didn’t even know he was doing this,” says Havva. “He cares so much. He has always wanted to help people.”

“Mum’s first reaction was that $10,000 wouldn’t make much of a difference,” says Koray. “But when staff explained to us that all of the wellness programs, including the Brain Tumour Support Service, simply wouldn’t exist without fundraising, we knew it was the right thing. We hope to do it again next year and just keep going.”

“When I see a way to make a difference, I just want to help as much as I can.” – Koray Barkut, 28

The Brain Tumour Support Services relies on donations from the community for survival. If you would like to help make a difference for people like Havva your donation today would be received with so much gratitude.