Source DA.AI News
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Andrea Barkley
On February 27 and February 28, 2023, Tzu Chi Turkey distributed cash cards to earthquake survivors in Şahinbey, a district of Gaziantep Province in southern Turkey. Volunteers and survivors gathered at a local cultural center for the event.
Timely Distribution of Cash Cards
Before the distribution, Tzu Chi Turkey volunteers introduced the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation to survivors with a video. Alongside a sign language performance by volunteers, the melody of “We Are Family” filled the auditorium, uplifting everyone with great compassion.
Irlmez, a disaster survivor, approached the stage and deeply embraced Tzu Chi volunteers. Then, tearfully, he spoke on behalf of all the benefited survivors, saying, “Take a look at the shoes of the person in charge, they are as dirty as mine, and this person is working on our behalf.”
Even more so than the cash cards, Irlmez was thankful for the heart-to-heart connection: “What you gave us was much more than material. From the look in your eyes, I sense the closeness of our hearts. I feel comforted knowing that you are standing with us. With so many volunteers here, I can rest a little easier in such a painful and difficult time.”
Amid the sudden disaster, Tzu Chi Turkey relieved the traumatized survivors. Faisal Hu, a Tzu Chi Turkey volunteer, shared his insight. “After this earthquake, people need help, poor and rich alike,” he said. “I think they can feel our empathy to a great extent.”
The affected residents went up to the stage one by one to receive their cash cards, eco-blankets, and eco-scarves. They hugged the Tzu Chi volunteers tightly, many of whom could not help but burst into tears. At such a moving moment, a young earthquake survivor expressed her wish: “They came here to help us in the spirit of humanity, and we want to help others in return when we can.”
In addition to Tzu Chi Turkey volunteers, other local charitable organizations were on the scene. The common wish was that earthquake survivors could recover from this disaster and feel secure again.
A Family of Seven Holds Each Other Dearly
After the distribution, Niyati, a disaster survivor, allowed Tzu Chi Turkey volunteers to visit his family of seven. He was amazed at the generosity of Tzu Chi. The five shopping cards he received were enough to provide temporary financial relief to his household. Niyati shared, “When I learned I’d receive cash cards, I had never received such a large amount of help. I thought I would only receive some food and clothes. I was stunned.”
The earthquake still haunts the family. Niyati’s oldest son, Blake, said, “The windows rattled because of the earthquake. It was scary. I’ve never been through an earthquake before. I didn’t even know that it was one.” The lingering fear from the earthquake, the cold winter weather, and the physical hunger afflicted the family. They had many sleepless nights.
Practical issues troubled the household besides mental and physical suffering. The earthquake forced Niyati to stop working, and the family could not make ends meet. In addition, the refrigerator stopped working, and they could not afford to repair it. Niyati’s wife, Lyla, said, “When the refrigerator stopped working, I kept the door open so the food wouldn’t spoil. The outside temperature is low anyway.”
The Tzu Chi relief distribution was timely and eased this distressed family’s hardship. Lyla said, “Thanks to Allah, we can at least be together as a family after the earthquake, and thanks to the people who helped us; thank you, Tzu Chi.”
Love and empathy can soothe hardships. Distributions like this will continue in Turkey’s hardest-hit areas so survivors may start to rebuild their lives again. Tzu Chi’s wish is for survivors of this tragedy to rekindle hope again amidst this hardship as we persevere together.