Darülaceze, officially known as THE DARÜLACEZE DIRECTORATE OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY, a charitable institution which provides accommodation for orphans, almsmen and people with disabilities, cares for people who are unable to work and provides education and schooling to orphaned children. In accordance with the provisions of its formal deeds, the Vehbi Koç Foundation has supported Darülaceze since 1969, providing aid, financial and otherwise, to cover the costs of building maintenance as well as food, nutrition and healthcare for those staying at the institution.
The foundations of Darülaceze were laid in 1892 and it opened its doors in 1896 in the Istanbul district of Okmeydanı, on a site measuring nearly 300,000 square meters. As people of all faiths made donations for the construction of the building, it was decided that it would serve everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs: space was allocated inside for a church and synagogue as well as a mosque. When Darülaceze was first founded, it comprised of four pavilions, a hospital, an orphanage, a pavillion for infants, a laundry, a hammam and a bakery. There were also studios for tailors, hosiers, cobblers, carpenters and ironmongers, carpet looms and an art school.
At its foundation, Darülaceze was connected to the Ministry of Interior, but after the Republic was founded, it transferred to the Ministry of Health and then to the Municipality of Istanbul in 1924. In 1999, it affiliated with the Ministry of Interior, before affiliating (under the name of the Darülaceze Directorate) with the Ministry of Family and Social Policy in 2011. All of the institution’s needs and operational costs were covered by donations from benefactors, rental income from property belonging to the institution and a 10% share of municipal taxes.
The Darülaceze site now includes seven facilities for almsmen, an outpatient clinic, kindergarten, rehabilitation center with a library, a modern kitchen with the capacity to feed 3,000 people, a slaughterhouse, a cold room capable of preserving meat donations for up to one year, a laundry and a bakery. It runs its own printing press, cobblers, and iron-mongering and tailoring workshops to meet the needs of the institution.
Darülaceze shelters nearly 600 people and since its foundation has housed over 70,000 people, half of which were children.