Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Running For Earthquake Relief


All of us in Turkey are still devastated by the major earthquakes that laid waste to vast swaths of the country's southeast on 6 February this year, killing more than 50,000 people. Across the 10 affected provinces, more than 200,000 buildings have been destroyed or badly damaged; millions of people are displaced.

The road ahead is a long and difficult one for the survivors. Many independent Turkish NGOs are doing incredible work assisting with immediate needs and longer-term recovery but they are in dire need of resources and support.

I'm running the Istanbul Half Marathon on 30 April along with other members of my Istanbul Expat Runners team to raise money for the Turkey Mozaik Foundation's Kahramanmaras Earthquake Emergency Relief Fund.

Founded by expat Turks living in the UK, the Turkey Mozaik Foundation is a registered, reliable charity that directs your donations to vetted Turkish civil society organizations as grants to carry out specific projects in the earthquake zone, from delivering emergency food packages and setting up clean-water infrastructure to providing psychosocial support and establishing safe spaces for women and children.

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Thank you for contributing to this effort through your donations and shares ­čĺť

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Solidarity = love

A truck full of aid ready to head 
to the earthquake zone

It's been just over a week since earthquakes ravaged southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria, and 'unbearable' is the word that keeps coming up as we try to process each day's horrors. More than 35,000 people (and counting) are now dead in Turkey, over 5,000 people dead in Syria, and vast swaths of cities have been destroyed, leaving millions displaced in frigid weather. Everyone I speak to has been touched by this disaster, everyone knows someone who is gone forever or has lost everything. 

Through their pain, Istanbul and other cities around the country have rallied in an incredible way. Municipal buildings, restaurants, homes, galleries, and gyms were converted into collection points and filled with volunteers and donated goods. Film-crew trucks, moving vans, planes, and ferries were loaded up with deliveries of aid - winter clothes, food, water, diapers, medical supplies, tools, generators, sleeping bags, tents - purchased by individual citizens, governments, and companies alike. Shopkeepers helped box up donations and carry them out to cars, offered discounted prices, or threw in extra goods for free. The mobilization was stunning. It still felt excruciatingly insufficient. 

My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who has given their money, time, or other resources in any way. To those who sent cash directly to me to be spent in Istanbul, I thank you for your trust as well. These funds bought blankets, warm hats, flashlights, batteries, underwear, sanitation supplies, grocery cards, medical supplies, three sturdy family-size tents (two with stoves), and tools for search and rescue teams, went to a fund to purchase container homes for doctors volunteering in the earthquake zone, and offered a bit of direct support to families left penniless.

The need is huge, and will continue to be for a long time, both for humanitarian assistance and longer-term rebuilding. Civil society in Turkey is brave and determined, but needs support. I urge anyone who can to give – now, later, regularly if you're able – to any of the local NGOs listed in my "how to help" post.

Monday, February 6, 2023

How to help after devastating earthquake in SE Turkey and Syria


[Updated 14 February]

We woke up Monday morning in Istanbul to devastating news from southeast Turkey and Syria, where a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and dozens of aftershocks overnight have now left more than 30,000 people dead in Turkey and an additional 3,000 in Syria, with tens of thousands injured and the death tolls still expected to rise further. Thousands of buildings have been destroyed or damaged, included historical structures. Here’s some reliable ways you can help:

Donate money to NGOs working on the ground in Turkey:

(** links are best bets for donating from outside Turkey/with international credit cards. For reference, 500 TL = 26.50 USD / 25 EUR / 22 GBP / 35.50 CAD)

** Donate to the esteemed Turkish volunteer search and rescue organization AKUT (T├╝rk├že'de ba─č─▒┼člar: https://www.akut.org.tr/bagis-yap)

** Donate to reliable civil society groups that are providing immediate relief and medium- to long-term recovery to survivors via UK-based Turkey Mozaik Foundation or US-based Turkish Philanthropy Funds (100% of donations go to recovery efforts in both cases).

Donate to the Istanbul Medical Chamber to buy medical supplies and containers for doctors to stay in while volunteering the earthquake zones. They are sending regular convoys of volunteer and supplies by car from Istanbul.

** Donate to the volunteer response being carried out in Turkey by the trusted, independent NGOs ─░htiya├ž Haritas─▒ (Needs Map) or Ahbap

** Donate to Hayata Destek (Support to Life), a Turkish NGO experienced in providing humanitarian relief and working with underserved communities. 

** Donate to the Lubunya Deprem Dayan─▒┼čmas─▒ solidarity fund to help LGBTQ+ people impacted by the earthquakes, or to the Aman Project specifically to help affected LGBTQ+ refugees. (Depremden etkilenmi┼č ve destek ihtiya├ž olan LGBTQ+ ki┼čiler yard─▒m ba┼čvurusu yapabilir burada.)

Donate to efforts to help animals in the disaster zone coordinated by D├Ârt Ayakl─▒ ┼×ehir (Four-Legged City), an organization recommended by a good friend of mine who is active with animal rights in Turkey. A Turkish vet friend recommends the Work Animals Rescue Foundation, which is doing similar work helping farm animals, street animals, and pets.

Donate goods in Turkey:

Donate NEW winter clothes/shoes, blankets, sleeping bags, diapers, baby formula, food parcels, hygiene supplies, heaters, generators, etc. at collection points set up by local/district/city officials. Check their social media accounts for the latest needs before buying/delivering: 
A full list of official collection points for earthquake aid in each Istanbul district has been posted on Instagram by Turkish Dictionary.

Buy tents, hygiene packs, coats, boots, blankets, sleeping bags, food packages, etc. online to be sent to the quake areas with ─░zmir municipality teams (try Firefox browser instead of Chrome).

Volunteer in Turkey:

Donate blood at K─▒z─▒lay sites around Turkey: https://www.kanver.org

Multiple NGOs operating under the Afet Platformu umbrella are coordinating volunteer efforts for humanitarian relief in affected cities. If you speak Turkish and are willing to volunteer, fill out this form: https://form.jotform.com/230361452031037 

You can also sign up for Afet Platformu's donor pool and get updates on the latest needs.

Have an empty home/apartment you're willing to open up to a displaced family? Want to provide rent support to displaced people? Know someone who lost their home and needs somewhere to live? Apply to the Bir Kira Bir Yuva (One Rent, One Home) website set up by the ─░zmir Metropolitan Municipality and the charity ─░htiya├ž Haritas─▒ (Needs Map).

Thousands of refugees live in the affected parts of Turkey. If you can speak Persian or Arabic and want to help, contact the G├Â├žmen Sendikas─▒ Giri┼čimi.

If you speak multiple languages and are willing to work with or volunteer for international rescue and relief team or media organizations, you can sign up to this directory created by the Foreign Media Association in Turkey.

Donate to rescue and relief efforts in Syria:

** To support rescue and recovery efforts in Syria, donate to the White Helmets, the Syrian American Medical Society, Molham Team, the Syrian Child Protection Network (Hurras)Choose Love or Basmeh Zeitooneh (the latter two are also working in Turkey).

** Support the engineers at Field Ready T├╝rkiye (Sahaya Haz─▒r ─░novasyon Derne─či) who work in Gaziantep, Turkey, and northwest Syria. Among other things, they make cheap, low-tech airbags for search and rescue from buildings which have collapsed. "If we move fast they can make more," a good friend who previously worked with the team writes. "The workshops in Syria also have vast experience of fixing essential medical equipment, and making insulated shelters - both greatly needed right now."

Spread (good) information:

If you know people in the affected cities who have been left without shelter, some hotels and other accommodation facilities are offering free places to stay for earthquake victims. And here's a map of other places offering shelter and support.

Add locations of collapsed and heavily damaged buildings to this GIS map so teams can reach them more quickly.

Be careful about sharing information if you don't know the source; check with Teyit or Do─čruluk Pay─▒ – both members of the International Fact-Checking Network – to see if claims on social media have been verified.

This post is a work-in-progress, I’ll be updating it as I can.