Help for Kahramanmaraş After the Earthquake
When 23andMe first came out, I joked that I never had to do it because my entire lineage traced back to one city. My family has lived in Kahramanmaraş, Turkey, for hundreds of years and are well-respected members of the community, known for their generosity and charity work within the community. Now this is my chance to do the same with your help.
Although I was born in Fort Worth, I spent every single summer break and most winter breaks in Kahramanmaraş visiting my extended family, and I’ve continued doing so with my own little family. I love it there. The town reminds me a lot of Fort Worth in a way – small yet big at the same time, with everyone connected to one another in some way. During the ongoing war in Syria (only three hours away via car), the town opened its doors to welcome and house the refugees. This brought back memories of the victims of Hurricane Katrina coming to Fort Worth when I was younger.
The earthquake of February 6 and its aftershocks (the main one of which was centered in Kahramanmaraş province) did such unimaginable damage to the city that the thought of rebuilding it seems impossible. Much of the damage was caused by shoddy construction which could have been avoided. For example, the new building in which I hosted my son’s second birthday completely collapsed because structural support columns were ripped out to expand the first-floor bakery. As for the buildings still standing, many of them have such extreme foundational damage that they are no longer considered safe dwellings, leaving thousands homeless and in makeshift shelters in the cold weather.
Cities in Turkey are mostly comprised of multi-family buildings instead of the All-American suburban neighborhood. Furthermore, the Turkish culture was that unless you move away for university, you live with your parents until you get married. It is not uncommon to have multiple generations living in the same household – assisted living is a foreign concept. In blunt mathematics, the average building has seven stories. That’s a minimum of 14 units. There are a minimum of five people living in each unit. That’s a minimum of 70 lives lost per building, but the truth is there were probably many more.
Perhaps you didn’t live in that building that was destroyed but your family’s business was on the ground floor. That familial heritage and that means of financial independence are gone. You’re safe but everything you had worked for has vanished. That’s the case for my uncle; he lost both his law firm and construction company’s office. Although there are large companies in that region that employ thousands, most of the people worked for themselves and were true self-made entrepreneurs, so as you can imagine, their livelihood is now gone.
To say I’m devastated by this tragedy is an understatement. I know the best thing for me would be to put the phone down and to focus on my children and my day, but how can I do that when I see Instagram Stories such as this, which roughly translates as “I have a 2-year-old child. He needs surgery immediately at either Mersin or Adana. Can you help me?”
Instead, I want to channel my sadness into being proactive. If you would like to help me in supporting Kahramanmaraş and the surrounding areas, please consider donating to the fundraiser that my sister and I created through Turkey Mozaik Foundation and follow TURANT (Turkish American Association of North Texas) on Instagram to see what their immediate needs are for donations to be sent weekly by plane via Turkish Airlines.
Additionally, my friend Eren has teamed up with the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles to send various types of port-a-potties to the region as well. He already has contacted a local manufacturer but just needs assistance raising money. His Go Fund me as additional details: