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.

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