Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Oct 02nd
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Home Feature Stories 2023 Earthquake in Turkiye and Syria Tzu Chi Visits MDM to Discuss Helping Earthquake Victims with Psychological Counseling

Tzu Chi Visits MDM to Discuss Helping Earthquake Victims with Psychological Counseling

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The downtown area of Antakya is a ruin, with cranes and large trucks constantly removing collapsed buildings. The air is filled with dust, and the air quality has deteriorated. Satellite images from the United Nations show a comparison of the city before and after the earthquake. In late August last year, it was full of lights at night – but, after the earthquake, it is almost entirely silent.

MDM sets up a mobile hospital to relieve trauma symptoms.

After the devastating earthquake in Turkiye, so much needs to be done. Tzu Chi's disaster relief team has arrived in the heavily affected area of Antakya. Although the roads have now been cleared, the entire city is shrouded in dust due to the demolition of collapsed buildings. According to a survey by several medical units, many victims have developed post-traumatic stress disorder and urgently need psychological counseling. Therefore, Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World, MDM) Turkiye has taken on the responsibility and is accelerating  construction of a mobile hospital. Tzu Chi's disaster relief team visited MDM to seek opportunities for collaboration.

Homes are severely damaged and difficult to access due to restrictions, but the victims still hope to find a way to move usable furniture to take, as they seek refuge with relatives in other cities.


Cem Hatunoğlu, project manager of MDM Turkiye, said with emotion: "Many people have left the city because they have nowhere to live. They need medical services and psychological counseling; they really need psychological counseling." With earthquake trauma increasing, and hospitals damaged or unable to operate, disaster victims can only seek help from the MDM.

What is more, MDM's base in Antakya was damaged in the earthquake. The organization quickly cleared the land and brought in several shipping containers to set up a makeshift hospital.


Lack of medical resources is one of many challenges

Project manager Cem Hatunoğlu told the volunteers: "Through the mobile hospital, we try to reach the most vulnerable groups, such as women, children, the disabled, the elderly, and chronic patients, and provide medical assistance to them. We have doctors, midwives, nurses, and psychiatrists." Inside the tent, Hatunoğlu explained that post-disaster medical missions required psychiatrists and nurses who specialized in mental health. The Tzu Chi disaster relief team listened closely and evaluated the situation cautiously; they were moved by the dedication of the MDM staff.

On learning of the shortage of personnel and resources of MDM, the Tzu Chi Charity Foundation  expressed the will to provide assistance. Simon Shyong, Vice CEO of Tzu Chi Foundation, said: "They have field hospitals or clinics not only in Turkey, but also in Syria. If Tzu Chi can assist them and lend our support, I think it is a great organization to collaborate with."

The disaster relief team will continue to visit NGOs and government agencies in the disaster area. They hope to have the opportunity to provide assistance, bring together their relief efforts, soothe the physical and psychological trauma of earthquake victims, and help them find the support they need.

Source: Da Ai News, reported by Lin Kuohsin, Wan Chiahung, inTurkey, 2023/02/20