24 March Thursday 2011 - 07 April Thursday 2011

Theo came to my studio one day. I was going to draw his portrait. As soon as he was sat in his chair he asked the typical question that everyone asked:

- What shall I do?

- I said do whatever you like, just do not talk...

However he did not do anything other than talk for over four hours!

Like a child... Sometimes laughing sometimes saddening...

They say ‘discover the child in you’... The child is not only in Theo’s heart, but also outside, below, above and all around him.

The Foundation was flooded. The biggest damage was in Theo’s house. His house was in water up to the ceiling. The floods covered everything. When he saw his house in this state, he apparently said, with a smile,

- Who planted this bomb?

His house really looked like it had been bombed. He renovated his house with patience and stubbornness without showing a sign of sadness.

Such is the big person inside Theo’s heart!

When he came to the Foundation he was still young. He started working on big projects. We owe him altogether our library, newspaper and journal archives and the Aziz Nesin Archives Room. One day he said ‘I am old now, I cannot do big jobs’. After that day he started making toys without stopping. With a lot of patience and persistence. And of course with love, which would not be possible without it. Very simple toys. Even the colours were primary... Toys that would not break, ruin, crumble. Durable toys just like Theo.

He asked my dad:

-What must one do in order to remain young, Aziz bey?

- Work, said my dad, if you work you will not age.

I would say he was probably listening to my father’s advice but no advice would be follewed 15 years! Hardwork is in Theo’s nature.

Every ugliness has a lie, an artificiality, forgery in its source. Ugliness can take place usually because people, who are not in peace with themselves, attempt to be someone else.

Theo, while telling me about someone one day, said,There is nothing worse than someone not being able to accept their age, they would be comical, disgrace themselves.

Theo has not only accepted his age, but also himself, as he is. He took others as examples, he admired others for sure, however he has never tried to be someone else. The beauty in Theo’s toys comes from this sincerety. Do you not see sincerety, simplicity and even innocence that attracts everyone, in those toys? Similarly, Theo is just like the toys he makes.

He is not like anyone but if we manage to be like him just a little, our world would be not just a little but a lot more liveable.

Ali Nesin


Theo Hasselo was born in 1928 in Holland. As a social worker he worked in jail where young Turkish men were waiting for Theo who did his job: social help for them. Because he thought it would be easier to help them knowing their language and their background Theo started to learn Turkish allready in 1961. His first visit to Turkey was in 1978.

In 1991 he met Aziz Nesin for the first time, in Holland, where Aziz Nesin was invited to speak about his country and to read from his books.

At that time Aziz Nesin said to Theo that after retiring he should come to the Nesin-Foundation to teach MECANO to the children of the foundation. 1993 Theo retired and went to the Foundation to settle there. He made mecano toys and wooden toys there, from that year (1993) untill today. These toys and the fact that Theo was working with the children making wooden toys opened the horizon of them to a new world of plays. These toys and the way they were made created a special kind of beauty and happiness which we are in danger to forget.

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