Written by Lamiya Lin
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto
Three weeks after the devastating February 6 earthquake in Turkey, Tzu Chi has been working non-stop to bring care and supplies to survivors. Also deeply affected by this tragedy was Turkey’s neighbor, Syria, which experienced the deadliest quake since the 1822 Aleppo earthquake.
Striving to deliver timely relief to disaster survivors in Syria, Tzu Chi volunteers navigated challenges with determined hearts, and now, progress has been achieved.
The Camel Textile Co. Ltd in Karak, Jordan, has generously produced and donated garments and blankets to Tzu Chi Jordan for distribution.
An agreement between the Syrian and Jordanian governments states that international humanitarian assistance may only be transported into Syria via army personnel. After much mediation, Tzu Chi Jordan and its long-time partners with the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation (JHCO) joined hands to deliver the supplies to its border warehouse, to be entrusted to the Jordanian army for transport to the Syrian border.
On February 28, the first batch of these supplies was delivered to Syria. It was only a short ten-minute drive from the warehouse to the border, but to volunteers, it felt as though it was a groundbreaking step in Tzu Chi’s disaster relief efforts.
The donated supplies included men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing, totaling 426,800 articles, as well as 50,000 thick blankets, which Tzu Chi volunteers helped pack and organize before being shipped by container truck to the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation warehouse in Mafraq, Jordan.
“There are many people affected by the earthquake in Syria and Turkey, and even if we give just a little, we can still comfort those affected,” said Mohammad Roz, a Syrian Tzu Chi volunteer.
The supplies did not go directly to Syria once in the warehouse, as the Jordanian army had to send cargo trucks to the international border crossing between Syria and Jordan. The first batch of supplies ultimately made it to the border post on the last day of February.
Khader Khalifeh, a Tzu Chi volunteer, was in charge of the delivery. He said, “Syrians have been left displaced and in need because of the earthquake. So thank Allah for having mercy on them; the first batch of Tzu Chi supplies has been sent there today. In the next few days, four military trucks will continue to transport supplies into Syria every day.”
Volunteer Mohammad Roz was also thankful to be able to help his hometown, explaining, “When I saw the military trucks going into Syria, my heart returned home with them. I am glad that I can follow Tzu Chi and do something for my hometown, and do my small part for those who are suffering from the earthquake. Thank you, Tzu Chi, and may Allah bless us all.”
In addition to the garment factory’s donation of fifteen 40-foot containers of clothing and blankets, Tzu Chi Jordan also procured cold weather supplies, including 10,000 coats, hats, gloves, and 1,000 pairs of boots, which will be sent to the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation warehouse as of March 2 and be used to assist survivors in Syria by the same transportation method. Once transported to Syria, the supplies will be distributed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).
Unconditional care for one another creates limitless blessings, and can ease many difficulties. Tzu Chi aims to continue sending aid to Syria so survivors may hold onto hope ever more tightly in the midst of this hardship, and have the strength to persevere, knowing they are loved.