Aid for earthquake victims in Turkey
Earthquake: The silence in the rubble
“The worst part was the silence that ensued after earthquake survivors called out the names of family members during rescue and recovery efforts.”
This was told by Diego Traverso, director of international disaster relief for CBN’s relief agency; Operation Blessing. He has been in Hatay, Turkey, since the first day of the earthquake. Accompanied by his team consisting of: doctors, nurses, water engineers, cooks, logistics personnel, interpreters, and several volunteers. He plans to stay in the earthquake zone for up to six months. Operation Blessing’s core mission is to provide people with food, clean water, and medical assistance.
It has been weeks since this region was devastated by a massive earthquake. Rescue operations have now been completed. The second phase is to clear the rubble and then begin reconstruction efforts. More than 44,000 people lost their lives in Turkey. Approximately 2.2 million people had to leave the earthquake zone, of which more than half a million people were evacuated and resettled by the authorities. These people are now living in tents and emergency shelters. The scale of this earthquake disaster is overwhelming
With over hundreds of thousands of people injured by the earthquake, one of the most pressing needs is medical assistance. The local hospital in the core area of the disaster was destroyed, and many people lost their prescriptions and medications when their homes were destroyed.
Dr. Gustavo Angel, our local doctor, told of the difficulties patients are facing. “Right now, most people need help with chronic diseases because there are no functioning clinics or hospitals nearby, which means they have to travel at least an hour and a half to get any kind of medical help. We encounter elderly people suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. They need immediate help.”
Emergency physicians from different countries are energetic and network together to help where help is needed. However, a major challenge they face is a lack of medicines and inadequate medical infrastructure. A short-term interim solution is to expand mobile clinics to provide medical care to more people.
One of the most urgent needs is the supply of clean drinking water, as this is one of the first things to be affected by a natural disaster. Operation Blessing is actively working to provide clean water to those in need. The existing water supply in Hatay is highly contaminated due to the earthquake, so drinking water is only possible through packaged water. However, there is a great shortage of bottled drinking water. Therefore, our water engineer, Jose Esquer, is working on a solution based on local water sources. His goal is to convert the existing contaminated water into clean drinking water.
Operation Blessing has installed a reverse osmosis system to purify water from wells for this purpose. The goal is to increase the quality of the water and make it safe again for human consumption.
There is only one passable main road in the city in Hatay. This means a costly and arduous undertaking for incoming deliveries of goods and necessary aid. Operation Blessing has a warehouse from which food packages are distributed to people. In addition, the team runs a soup kitchen where over 1000 hot meals are prepared and distributed daily. This is not an easy job to provide food to so many people every day. Thanks to our cooks and volunteers, this work can be made possible. In addition, food packages are distributed daily in different villages in Hatay. Hygiene packages, as well as solar lamps, are also distributed to people in need. This area of food distribution will remain necessary for a long time because people have lost almost everything, if not everything, and therefore the possibility to feed themselves.
Reconstruction of life
The earthquakes have left a trail of destroyed buildings and debris nearly 500 km long. For many families, their lives have been turned upside down, and their livelihoods have been destroyed. Operation Blessing sat down with Felis to hear her story. She shared, “Long before the earthquake, I had my own bakery. I baked bread and pastries. But now, after the earthquake, unfortunately I don’t have a job anymore because my workplace was destroyed.” Her goal is to bake again, “I hope to continue my work elsewhere.” For Felis and many survivors, an important goal in rebuilding their lives is to be able to return to their jobs. At the same time, many people face homelessness because they have lost their homes. For example, Hakan and his family are now living in tents and temporary shelters outside his destroyed home. He constantly has the destruction of his house but also of the beautiful landscape in front of his eyes. His home is hardly recognizable. Besides providing emergency care for many people, an important task will be to help them get back on their feet.
No organization will be able to handle the massive needs in the huge disaster area alone, but we can do our part with your help. We can make a difference and help many suffering people rebuild their lives with God’s love.
You want to help the Earthquake Victims? Thank you for your support!