Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Oct 02nd
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Home Feature Stories 2023 Earthquake in Turkiye and Syria In Earthquake-Hit Nurdagi, Turkiye, Tzu Chi Holds First Distribution

In Earthquake-Hit Nurdagi, Turkiye, Tzu Chi Holds First Distribution

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One month has passed since a terrible earthquake devastated Turkiye and Syria on February 6. Most of the affected people are still waiting for help. On March 5, in one of the worst-hit areas, Nurdagi in Gaziantep Province in Turkiye, Tzu Chi started its first distribution of gift cards. Volunteers expect to distribute them to 7,759 households over four days, with 430 households on the first day. The victims arrived early and queued up, their hearts full of anxiety.


Volunteers' Tender Hearts Ease Anxiety

Nurdagi was completely destroyed by the earthquake. Its residents are currently living in tents beside the collapsed houses; this made it challenging for Tzu Chi to find a suitable distribution site. After careful assessment, they decided to distribute aid in the damaged market square. The volunteers arranged the lines and set up chairs, hoping that each victim could feel the respect and love of those caring for them.

"Three days ago, I received a text message notifying me to come to get the relief supplies. I thought it was a scam, but I thought my whole family should come to see what would happen," said Mr. Husut without hesitation. Before coming here, he was not sure what kind of group Tzu Chi was and did not dare to expect what kind of help he would receive.

However, when the victims arrived one after another, the volunteers greeted them with sincerity and humility. With such love filling the site, the victims felt the unease in their hearts gradually dissipate. They embraced the volunteers with open arms, pouring out their hearts. One victim, Hakan, said: “My entire house was destroyed, and many of my relatives passed away.”

More and more affected people from the town rushed in; some even rode bicycles to get there. “I rode here for half an hour,” Hussein, one victim, told a volunteer. “My house was destroyed, but the bicycle is something I managed to save.” However, even though he is alone and has nothing after the earthquake, he considers himself lucky because more than 3,000 people died in Nurdagi.


Supplying What Victims Need

Although it was a charity distribution held by a Buddhist organization, the volunteers of Tzu Chi respected the beliefs of the victims. Before the distribution, the victims chanted the Quran, in accord with their religious beliefs. The volunteers hoped to provide the most meaningful aid to them. "Thank you for your love!" said Mustafa, one victim, "However, because the BIM store here has collapsed, we still need to figure out where to use the aid (gift cards)."

Simon Shyong, the leader of the disaster relief team and also deputy CEO of Tzu Chi Foundation explained: "It's really amazing that the BIM stores are now mobile. They have cars going out, so the victims can purchase what they need." Tzu Chi hopes to give the victims the most timely assistance with each card, and each card comes with the Great Love of the world.

Tzu Chi's Distribution Model Makes Turkish Officials Feel Secure

During the first distribution, several local officials assessed the situation. They included Mr. Osman, relief commander of Nurdagi town and also governor of Gaziantep, Mr. Haka from the Social Welfare Department, and the market manager. Mr. Abdullah from the Social Welfare Department of Kirikhane District even brought his family to observe Tzu Chi's distribution model. He expressed his satisfaction and hoped that Tzu Chi can increase its distribution to 3,000 households in the Kirikhane District. He invited Tzu Chi to check the list on March 9.

Tzu Chi volunteers personally visited every earthquake-affected district and township in Gaziantep province and conducted a detailed assessment of the situation. Through each distribution and person-to-person giving, Tzu Chi hopes to transform global love into the confidence and strength the victims need to stand up again.

Source: from Da Ai News, reported by Jiahsin Lee, Wensen Lin, and David Yu in Turkiye, 2023/03/06.