People in Need delivers hygiene kits and blankets to people affected by the earthquake in Türkiye

Published: Mar 3, 2023 Reading time: 3 minutes
Delivery of hygiene kits and blankets to the village of Icerisu in Nurdagi, Gaziantep, Turkiye. Funded internally by SOS Emergency Appeal.
© Photo: Kieran Seager

In Gaziantep province, PIN is distributing hygiene kits, heaters, blankets, and clothes to communities affected by the major earthquake that demolished homes across southeastern Türkiye. One of these communities centres on a tiny village called İçerisu.

Every single house in this farming village was brought to the ground by the earthquake and one young man was killed that night. Its one hundred remaining residents now live in tents and temporary shelters scattered between the remains of their homes and the edge of their field crops. A silence has fallen over the village, broken sometimes by a rooster crowing, or the sound of birds through the trees – a stark contrast to the deafening noise of breaking glass and snapping concrete during the earthquake.

“That night was catastrophic,” said Mehmet, as he stood in front of his destroyed home, packing away the blanket and hygiene kit PIN had given him. “My wife and I ran to the door as the house began to shake, but it was locked. I was carrying my son, who’s disabled, so I lowered him out of the first-floor window and my wife and I jumped out after him.”

There was no time to save his son’s wheelchair, nor the farming equipment Mehmet relies on for his livelihood.

“After the earthquake stopped, the weather was freezing and the snow and the rain began to come. It was unbearable, but we had to endure the cold. We survived with only our thin clothes - we couldn’t do anything but endure.”

With no home and no job, and a wife and disabled child to care for, Mehmet set up his tent in the garden next to the remains of his house. The Turkish disaster management agency (AFAD) provided Mehmet with a tent, food, water, and a prefabricated container that now serves as the family’s bedroom.

“Life will continue in some way,” said Mehmet. “If we have to, we will rebuild our house ourselves, because somehow this life will continue, even if it is difficult.”

To cover the other essential needs of newly displaced families, PIN is distributing essential non-food items (NFIs), such as blankets and hygiene kits. These kits contain soap, toothbrushes, sanitary pads, towels, and other products that are vital in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, where access to bathrooms and showers is severely limited. In many cases, tented communities are forced to use the facilities available in the buildings that remain standing. In the nearby town of Nurdağı, for example, dozens of families share only a few bathrooms.

At the same time, blankets, clothes, and heaters are essential when many peoples’ clothes and belongings have been lost; buried under heaps of rubble. Some survivors risk death returning to their crumbling homes to retrieve warm clothes.

“We shouldn’t go inside, it’s not allowed because the whole house is unstable,” explained one woman who fled her house during the earthquake with no winter clothing, “But we did go in because we didn’t have any shoes or jackets. We took what we could.” In these situations, NFIs such as clothes, heaters, and blankets can ensure that families who have lost their homes can at least sleep in warmth without risking their safety.

Currently, People in Need is using internal SOS emergency funds to deliver NFIs to locations across the Nurdağı, İslahiye, and Şahinbey districts of Gaziantep. As well as working in coordination with local municipality authorities to deliver items to Gaziantep’s larger towns, PIN is also reaching the smaller, rural communities such as İçerisu that lie scattered over the region’s rolling countryside.

In the coming weeks, PIN will continue to scale up the scope and variety of its projects to meet the overwhelming needs of these affected communities, ensuring that they are adequately supported through the arduous process of rebuilding their lives.

Autor: Kieran James Seager, People in Need’s Communications Manager for Syria and Turkey

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