Turkish economics student Ada Sakarya and others started a GoFundMe to help the country where her family lives. Together with friends and a close-knit community of Turkish students at Erasmus University, they have already raised more than 6,000 euros for the disaster area in south-east Turkey which was hit by an earthquake. More than 20,000 people have lost their lives and this number continues to rise as relief forces from across Europe pull people from under the rubble.
Among Turkish students, news of the earthquakes hit hard: “There were students who had relatives near the epicentre and could not get in touch with their relatives for a while, which was very intense”, Sakarya says. Her parents and family fortunately do not live in any of the affected areas.
The donations that came in through Sakarya and her friends’ GoFundme will be donated to two Turkish organisations: AFAD and AHBAP. The former is Turkey’s emergency management authority, and the latter a network of volunteers helping people in need in the disaster zone.
“We stopped asking for things. This is because we now know that asking for donations in the form of stuff causes many things to be donated that are not needed, figuring all that out takes far too much time”, Sakarya says. So the most convenient and quickest way to help is to donate money to the organisations.
Donations through the students’ action can be made through GoFundMe.
Sakarya is very happy with all the aid being sent to Turkey from Europe, but is dissatisfied with the way Turkey itself is handling the situation. “The aid troops from Europe help tremendously in finding people lying under the rubble, but the fact that this earthquake was able to cause so many casualties shows that Turkey has handled the risks poorly.” The risk of earthquakes in Turkey is very high, but Sakarya says the government has not done enough to prepare the country for it: “The houses were not up to standard at all.”
“I do hope the help from Europe continues. I mainly see rescue teams being sent now, but we need to start rebuilding all those houses anyway”, Sakarya adds.
No aid to Syria
Rita Mousa (International Bachelor of Economics and Business Economics) is from Syria and feels her country is being forgotten. “Because of the war in Syria, all sanctions have been imposed on the country, because of this we get very little help from Europe”, she says. And that while the death toll also continues to rise in Syria. “I am very proud of the students who set up a successful fundraiser for Turkey, but I feel frustrated because Syria has to figure it out for itself.” Mousa can count the organisations raising money for Syria on one hand.
She herself has family in the affected area in Syria and, connection permitting, gets occasional updates on the situation there. “The people in the area there are doing everything they can to help each other, but there is just really a lot more help needed,” she says. Because of the war, Syria no longer has the means to save itself.” Her parents’ house is still standing, but in the places where the buildings did collapse, people are trying to remove the debris with their bare hands in an attempt to save family members and neighbours.
Not only in Europe, but also on a smaller scale at university, Mousa feels that little attention is being paid to Syria. That is why she wants to set up a platform for Syrian students: “I don’t know any Syrian students in the Netherlands myself yet, that is why I want to set up a platform so we can find each other and have support from each other in this difficult time.”
Donating money to help victims of the earthquake in Syria and Turkey can also be done through Giro 555 of the collaborating relief organisations in the Netherlands. The Italian organisation Pro Terra Sancta is raising money for the Aleppo area.
You can contact Rita via Instagram: @Rita_Mousaa.