Turkey-Syria earthquakes: How New College can help?
A man sitting in the rubble caused by the earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria. Photo courtesy of AFP.

Turkey-Syria earthquakes: How New College can help?

On Feb. 6, southern and central Turkey and northern and western Syria were hit with a 7.8 earthquake leaving more than 45,000 people dead and millions of people displaced as rescue teams struggle to save them. In the immediate hours following the initial earthquake, the countries experienced more than 2,100 aftershocks. 

Approximately 11 minutes after the first quake, a magnitude 6.7 aftershock followed. Nine hours later, another 7.7 earthquake struck, adding to the trail of destruction the previous earthquake left. The initial earthquake was the strongest in Turkey since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake and the deadliest the country has experienced since the 1268 Cilicia earthquake. It has been recorded as the fifth deadliest earthquake in the 21st century. As of Feb. 17, the death toll has surpassed 45,000 and has left millions of people and families homeless. Rescue teams continue to pull individuals from the rubble as the death toll continues to rise.

The Turkish government led a response whilst working closely with the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), declaring the situation as a level-4 emergency, asking for international assistance. Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogan declared a three month long state of emergency. International governments were quick to provide materials and resources to assist the devastated country, offering aid and deploying rescue teams as the country is a valued member of the United Nations.

A picture depicting the rubble left behind after the two deadly earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

In this devastating time, there are millions residing in Turkey who are in desperate need of help. So how can the New College community give a helping hand in this difficult time? 

International students from Turkey shared a moving letter with students and faculty that depicted how people can help those in need, and first-year Turkish student Bilge Akyol provides insight on this dire situation.

 “Our family are not okay,” they said. “For Turkish people, the whole country is our family and it is hurting in front of our eyes.” 

“Turkish culture is rooted in collectivism rather than individualism, resulting in thousands of volunteers taking up the responsibilities of a government,” they continued.

Second-year Turkish student Iz Demoriz also provided her thoughts on the tragedy.

“None of my friends or family personally got affected, but I feel like I lost someone,” she said. “In situations like this, there is so much to say, but also it’s very hard to speak. Because this earthquake happened when I was on my way back to [New College], I was not able to help with anything there physically.” 

Despite not being able to physically assist Turkish students in the country, Demoriz and her father set up a GoFundMe in order to lend a helping hand to Turkish students looking to further their education. 

“If one part of the world is hurting, the other part is hurting too,” Demoriz said. “I believe we are all one, and everyone deserves the opportunity to get an education.”

The most effective way to help at this time is by donating to organizations such as Bridge to Turkey and Harvard College Turkish Student Association Venmo Account. The Bridge to Turkey Fund (BTF) is based within the U.S. and is a charitable, non-profit organization run by volunteers. All donations are tax deductible and are sent to BTF’s partner AHBAP Association. This association is focused on assisting those in need in any means necessary. For those who are unable to donate, spread the word. Bringing awareness to this devastating situation allows Turkey to receive more help through others’ donations.

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