ISTANBUL – After the heavy earthquake yesterday in the East Turkish province of Van, everywhere in Turkey initiatives have started to gather aid for the victims. Municipalities coordinate the aid, arrange boxes and transport, and civilians bring blankets, coats, nappies, socks and sweaters.
A truck arrives at the town hall of Kadiköy, a municipality of Istanbul. it parks by the entrance, next to people who are unloading their car. Huge plastic bags come out, with clothes and blankets. Long tables are placed inside the hall, people are busy selecting goods and taping boxes together. ‘Kadiköy shares’ is written on labels on the boxes, accompanied by info about whats inside. ‘The first truck leaves at eleven’, says deputy mayor Hulusi Özocak, ‘and another one at noon. We’ll continue sending aid the rest of the week’.
From many places in Turkey trucks are on the way to Van with aid collected by civilians. Quite a distance for many drivers: from Istanbul for example it’s about 2000 kilometres. In the region itself of course also the aid started rather quickly, also because of tight organisation by local municipalities. Many municipalities inform people about places where aid is collected via Twitter and Facebook.
In the town hall of Kadiköy both young and old contribute to the aid efforts. A group of four teenagers eficiently puts boxes together. One of them, Özgür (17): ‘No, we don’t need to go to school. We are students of a trade school and we decided to do this as practical work.’ Most of the others are also volunteers, and it’s all coordinated by the municipal aid department. Kadriye Saglam, head of that department: ‘We continuously give aid to poor areas in Turkey. When a disaster like this occurs, it’s easy to organize extra help and just work a bit harder.’
Bed and couch
On twitter an initiative started to offer shelter to earthquake victims. Via the ‘hashtag’ ‘evimevindirVan’ (my house is your house, Van) people could offer their bed or couch, and the offers where collected and organized via several organisations.
Right after the earth quake on Sunday and also on Monday I reported about the disaster for several media. Besides the piece above I also wrote this one on Monday for Dutch news agency ANP. On Sunday I provided ANP with short news updates and background information; they can’t be put together in an article and were used together with other news agency reports about the events.
On Sunday I also worked for the American radio station ABC.
On Monday morning you could hear me on Dutch national radio. If you know Dutch, you can listen to that here – it includes an embarassing confession.
On Monday afternoon (Monday morning in Canada) I was a guest, via Skype, in the nationally broadcast Canadian TV show Canada AM.