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Student Addresses Devastation in Turkey

Elaine Loft
Ipeksu Yucel, a sophomore at Derryfield, is a first generation American who was born and raised in the US, but her entire family lives in Turkey. During Community Meeting on February 13, Yucel offered her perspective of the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey the previous week.  “This topic is very personal and very important to me, given the events of the past week, yet being so far from family and friends. I think it is important to raise awareness, and also to encourage humanitarian efforts.”

"For those of you who haven’t heard in the news, last Monday at 4:17 in the morning a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey. Just 9 hours later, a second 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck again. There were at least 125 aftershocks and the effects were felt in four countries. With it, the earthquake took down at least 6,000 buildings, left upwards of 23 million people affected or without a home between Turkey and Syria, and claimed the lives of 39,000. 

I don’t know what it’s like to be asleep in your bed and suddenly flung across the room. I don’t know what it’s like to sit in the corner of your room trying to figure out which wall will collapse on you first. I don’t know what it’s like to stand in the street looking at your home, or at least what used to be your home, reduced to a pile of rubble, and you don’t know where you’re going to sleep that night. And I cannot even begin to imagine it. But these are very real experiences.

What I do know is what it’s like to sit 5,000 miles away from your family as it happens–these horrible images flashing across the screen and the phone ringing and ringing and the line just drops dead. All you can think is “someone please just pick up.” It is terrifying. Thankfully, someone does, but I can’t say that that was always the case. 

Sometimes the only consolation you get is that this is a natural disaster. It takes what it wants and it is so, so unfair. My friends were only 15/16 years old. One of them wanted to be a doctor. Another wanted to come study in the United States. They had so much more to give.
In an area of the world already struggling with economic crisis, an influx of refugees, and civil war, it is even harder to pick up the pieces. For Syrian refugees it is running from one state of disaster to another. 4.1 out of the 4.5 million living in that region of northern Syria already relied on humanitarian aid. The only access road into the country was destroyed.

My cousin tells me that what we see in the news is not even half of it. People have resorted to raiding barely standing grocery stores. It is not because these people are thieves or criminals but because they are desperate. Because her family went four days without food or water. Because they have families to feed even when they have no roof over their heads.

But it is in the face of disaster that we put our faith in humanity and that we recognize our role as globally minded citizens. Organizations like UNICEF are working tirelessly to provide clean water and resources to children in both countries. They have a direct fund where people can choose to contribute just one dollar towards humanitarian aid. The process to rebuild will not be easy or quick. And of course it will not bring back the tens of thousands of lives who were unfairly taken. But I hope that by contributing, we will make the process just a little easier.” 

NOTE: Yucel has set up a fundraiser with an organization called Bridge to Türkiye. You can donate HERE.

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