Everyone is heartbroken. You all know that Southern Turkey and Northern Syria were hit by a massive – catastrophic – earthquake on February 6th.
Because it happened in the early hours, in the cities, towns and villages most people were home, sleeping as thousands of apartment blocks toppled. Those lucky enough to escape the buildings, did so in whatever they were sleeping in.
Turkey is in official mourning until sunset on Sunday with flags around the country flying at half-mast.
We’re putting this post out, really, just in response to some questions friends in the UK have asked. We forget that not everyone uses social media as we ourselves do.
If this article helps in any way, than that’s all we can ask for.
The enormity of all of this is impossible to get our heads around. It’s overwhelming.
The size of the area affected is vast. Just a couple of diagrams here for you for some perspective.
This diagram is currently doing the rounds online – its original source unknown by us – and gives you some context as to the size of the area hit by the earthquake.
This is just the area affected in Turkish borders – over 13 million people. Then we have Northern Syria, too!
The diagram above shows the provinces hit by the earthquake and their 2022 populations.
In the top right corner, you can see where theses provinces are located within the geography of the whole country. This gives more perspective on the size of Turkey.
But for such a large country, Turkey is very small when it comes to its population. Members of the same family are often spread around the country. And relocating to work in a different city is not uncommon.
It means that almost everyone knows someone who lives in the areas that have been hit.
We know a few people in Fethiye who are from the Hatay Province, one of the worst hit areas. We’re not 100% sure yet but we think one of these people has lost loved ones.
The rate at which the death toll is climbing – the final potential figure is too hideous to contemplate.
Obviously, as each day passes, the chances of finding survivors decreases. But as I type this on the afternoon of the 10th, a family of six people have been pulled out alive, 101 hours after the quake hit.
These are the amazing stories we all hope for, and wait for, whilst the rescue teams do their dangerous work.
A Country Mobilised
But the whole country is mobilised.
So amongst the feelings of helplessness, sadness, utter shock, disbelief – everyone is also taking action.
In Fethiye and around the country, local councils have set up designated drop off areas for goods. And regular lists are being shared online for what is most needed for those affected.
Thermal clothes, blankets, pillows, ready foods, dried foods, tea, coffee, sugar, baby formula, nappies, sanitary products, over the counter medications…
Power banks, tents, work boots, construction tools and machinery…
Some are going out shopping for whatever little bits they can and dropping it off at their nearest centre.
Others are going out to do multiple shops, purchasing some of the more expensive goods as friends from abroad send cash so that they, too, can help.
It’s quite something to witness even in Fethiye, to see everyone pulling together.
And then you see the scenes in cities like Istanbul and Izmir where they are obviously coordinating a huge amount of goods. It’s like the country has become a population of volunteers.
As each lorry is filled with goods and leaves the collection area, it’s waved off, applauded, filmed for social media – everyone wishing them well, on their way.
Obviously, professionals and trained volunteers from relevant local organisations all over the country have mobilised and left for the affected areas. Fethiye and the wider Muğla region has various personnel there.
It doesn’t need us to tell you that many countries around the world have sent search and rescue teams to help Turkish teams on the ground. And Turkish communities around the world are heading fundraisers and goods collections.
You only need to read a few of the comments online to see that a lot of people here are so touched and grateful for the international support.
If You Want To Help
UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has described this earthquake as “one of the biggest natural disasters in our times,” and has called on the international community for support.
Whilst that means governments of the world pledging their ongoing assistance (as I type, the UK has sent a plane of humanitarian aid and is about to send a field hospital complete with operating theatre and medical staff) there are also so many charities and NGO/CSOs on the ground, working locally to help people.
Choosing who to donate money to can get a bit overwhelming when you’re offered a long list to sift through, so we’re just going to list three of the places that we trust.
These guys are amazing. An NGO that is a Turkey-wide search and rescue team. From mountain rescue to the current earthquake rescue effort, they are highly skilled first responders, using state of the art equipment – all funded by donations.
They’re on call 24/7 and also run educational workshops and drills to educate people about how to react in different disaster situations.
641 of their volunteers, as well as search and rescue dogs are currently at different sites in the affected earthquake areas. At the time of writing their appeal, they had already rescued 39 people from collapsed buildings.
Click here to donate to AKUT. (If you choose the credit card option, it gives you a choice of: 20TL, 50TL, 100TL, Other. Whilst 100TL sounds like a large amount, bear in mind that, because of the exchange rate, this is currently around £4.50).
Turkey Mozaik Foundation
These guys are a UK-based charity – all Turkish people living in the UK – that support CSOs on the ground here in Turkey. We’ve donated to them in the past after the Izmir earthquake and they are transparent with where monies are going.
If you’re like us and don’t like to choose one charity or NGO/CSO over another, Turkey Mozaik release funds to a number of groups.
It’s also really easy to donate to them in you’re in the UK because they have a Just Giving page for the earthquake fund.
They immediately released £45,000 to AKUT and two other critical first responder teams.
Today, they have released £100,000 to Hayata Destek Derneği (Support To Life Association) who are delivering clean water for drinking and hygiene to Antakya in the Hatay Province.
We like this charity because they will fund long term projects, too, to provide ongoing help to people after the earthquake.
We’re running at the Runtalya event at the beginning of March (2023) to raise funds for the Turkey Mozaik Foundation and you can click the button below to donate now.
Founded by famous Turkish singer, Haluk Levent, we’d never heard of Turkish charity AHBAP until a few days ago. Turkish people all over Twitter are sharing the link and some Turkish blogger friends have mentioned it, too.
We’ve asked around, too, and we haven’t spoken to anyone who doesn’t trust this platform, hence why we’re sharing it, here.
They’re raising money for shelter, food and medical supplies.
Click here to donate to AHBAP Platform.
We’re fully aware that this is a Turkey-centric post. It’s aimed at answering some of the questions we’ve been asked over the last few days.
But we also know there is unimaginable suffering in Northern Syria.
If you’ve seen images from there you’ll know that the White Helmets are on the ground rescuing people and pulling the dead from collapsed buildings.
Click here to donate to White Helmets.
It’s one day at a time, now. And to some degree, this is a part of everyone. We’re very lucky to be where we are. We’ll do what we can, when we can.