Turkey’s Gaziantep – Tens of thousands of Turkish and Syrian lives were abruptly affected by a huge earthquake a week ago.
A 7.8-magnitude earthquake that also completely destroyed entire communities across the border in northern Syria destroyed thousands of houses in ten Turkish cities.
The death toll from the earthquake on Sunday exceeded 33,000 across both countries, making it the deadliest in the area in decades. According to government sources, the eventual death toll may reach 50,000.
Because of the harsh winter weather and extensive road damage, rescue teams and help were taking longer than anticipated.
Many citizens provided their own assistance as they could while also organizing a response neighborhood by neighborhood to assist and support one another.
Restaurant and bar owners opened their doors a few hours after the earthquake and gave out hot tea, bread, and a warm place for the victims to stay.
Mehmet Taşdelen, the proprietor of Kebabçi Yalçin, in the Gazimuhtar neighborhood of Gaziantep, went straight to open his ground-floor restaurant as a haven for individuals who had just experienced such a horrible event.
People were rushing in full fright in all directions because there are only high buildings on this street, Taşdelen told reporters
“Around 6 am on the morning of the major earthquake, I raced to open my restaurant when I observed that. While we all waited for the ground to stop trembling, I started a few fires.
He left his restaurant’s door open in the days to come for anyone in need of a warm place to stay and a meal.
Ahmet, 64, who wished to remain anonymous, says as he takes a pot of boiling noodles from the eatery, “If we didn’t die in the earthquake, we might die of hunger or cold.”
He parked his car next to Kebabçi Yalçin, where he and his wife had been staying for days because he was too terrified to return to his home following the ordeal.
Despite not being as badly affected as other areas in the vicinity, humanity seems to have prevailed in Gaziantep during the catastrophe.
The owner of Café Sempre in Ordu Caddesi provides blankets and free meals all day long.
Ferdi Haydargil, 44, is serving several hot cups of tea when he says, “I quickly came to my bar as soon as I noticed all those people in the street looking for a safe ground-floor place.” “It’s our moral obligation to do whatever we can to help one another.”
About a dozen people have sought refuge in his pub over the previous several nights, including a Turkish-Italian couple who had their first date there before the earthquake.
They are currently plagued by the pleasant recollections they shared here. They had spent nights sleeping in their car because they were afraid to sleep in their own home, but when they realized this facility was open, they decided to spend one night there.
Ayhan Kahrman, 29, takes his girlfriend’s hand and remarks, “We never believed we would prefer the pandemic to what we are experiencing now.
Huseyin zyurtkan, 50, and his wife Burcu, 42, have been cooking hot meals in a partially destroyed castle area for the past four days after noticing the endless bread lines but lack of places for hot mea
They chose to actively assist other individuals in the same predicament despite the fact that their condition at home makes it unsafe for them to return there.
We’re going through some incredibly difficult circumstances, so we all need to stick together and demonstrate our fortitude, adds zyurtkan.
On Sunday was his wife’s birthday, and she had made the decision to give back. Right now, nothing is more essential than considering others, she says as she ties her hijab and resumes her work.
Syrians and Turks interact
“These days there’s no difference of nationality, ethnicity, beliefs and appearances,” says zyurtkan as he drives around handing out food to everyone he meets on the street.
In the last ten years, Gaziantep has evolved into a mixed-race city, with one-third of the population being Syrian and the other two-thirds having escaped the devastation of Syria’s bloody civil war.
In spite of social and economic conflict, coexistence has come to define Gaziantep, both in serene and tragic times like these.
Divisions are fading today as Turkish and Syrian volunteers work together to defend Gaziantep and its residents.
Aleppo native Nidal Memik, 22, opted to volunteer with the Ministry of Family to help construct tents for the homeless.
He can relate to how others in his adopted country are experiencing right now as a Syrian who was uprooted by the conflict as a teenager. He therefore wanted to provide his assistance and expertise on how to handle the shock and ensuing stress.
He is working as a volunteer with Mohammad al-Sabah, a two-time Syrian refugee father, alongside Ezgi Ala, a 28-year-old social worker from the Ministry of Family.
Ala says, “He still doesn’t have a tent, and we’re moving from tent to tent looking for a location.
We must work together to support and care for one another since we have all been equally impacted, she continues.