Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Students Donate Supplies to Aid Earthquake Relief in Turkey, Syria

CW: This article references/discusses violence related to natural disasters. Please refer to the end of the article for on- and off-campus resources. 

Georgetown University’s Turkish students organized a food and supply drive to send resources to people in Turkey following the deadly earthquake that killed around 21,000 individuals in Syria and Turkey as of a Feb. 9 statistic. 

Bora Balçay (SFS ’23) worked with other Turkish students to organize the supply drive, collecting items like clothes and food, after learning of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake. The earthquake, epicenter near Gaziantep in south-central Turkey, struck in the early morning of Feb. 6 local time with a 7.5-magnitude aftershock occurring nine hours later about 60 miles away.

The earthquake caused widespread building collapses in both Turkey and Syria, killing over 15,000 people in the two countries as of Wednesday. The earthquake’s epicenter lies in an area where millions of displaced people have settled, including at least 1.7 million of the 3.5 million Syrian war refugees that Turkey hosts.

Student efforts to organize the Feb. 6 drive started after the Turkish Embassy announced it would be collecting donations and flying them to Turkey, according to Balçay.

“I am in touch with a contact at the embassy, who was helping us when he gave me the list of necessary items, shared the embassy donation account and its numbers that I have been sharing,” Balçay told The Hoya. “When the boxes are filled, hopefully tomorrow, I am gonna take the first party of goods to the embassy, and they are going to help.”

Doğa Bozkurt | Turkish Georgetown students have started a food and supply drive to aid Turkish and Syrian victims of a major Feb. 6 earthquake.

Students can drop off new winter clothes, outdoor equipment, unopened canned food, baby formula, diapers and hygiene products in the drive’s collection box in the Intercultural Center Galleria until Feb. 10.

The areas impacted by the earthquake are currently experiencing harsh winter weather, further exacerbating the disaster’s scope and complicating rescue efforts.

Parts of the affected area in Syria are controlled by the Syrian government and their opposition, making providing aid to affected areas of Syria more difficult. The United States and members of the European Union currently sanction the Syrian government, while opposition-held areas have little formal sovereignty through which countries or humanitarian organizations can provide aid.

Balçay said it is crucial to remember that the earthquake has also caused damage and death in an already-vulnerable Syria even though the student supplies will be sent to Turkey.

“We are on the Turkish side, and there is also the Syrian side of the story, which nobody is really talking about, because, unfortunately, damage is very unclear so far,” Balcay said. “Disaster relief is incredibly hard to get there, information is really not coming down.”

Turkish student Cansu Özdemir (CAS ’26) said it was very difficult to read about the earthquake.  

“Fortunately, my family and friends are safe and were not directly affected,” Özdemir wrote to The Hoya. “However, this is a challenging time for all in Turkey, as the rebuilding process will be lengthy and difficult for everyone.”

Doğa Bozkurt (CAS’ 26), a Turkish student helping organize the drive and raise funds, said she felt shocked upon hearing about the earthquake.

“Having to live with the reality, there is so many people from your country who is struggling right now, and knowing that there is not much you can do right now to help other than donate and raise awareness, it is so upsetting,” Bozkurt told The Hoya.

Bozkurt said the unity she saw in Turkey following the earthquake was inspiring. 

“What inspired me was the sheer courage of Turkish people to come together at this time, no matter who they are, if they know the people who were affected or not,” Bozkurt said. “They are all sharing in the pain of the people.”

The university also encouraged students to aid Turkish and Syrian relief organizations in a Feb. 6 email to students.

“We are deeply saddened by the devastation and loss of life caused by the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria,” the email reads. “We offer our prayers and thoughts to all those affected by the earthquakes and their aftermath, and we encourage our community to help respond to this disaster as ‘people for others’ in any way that we can.”

Bozkurt encouraged Georgetown students to help as much as they can through donations to the supply drive and to Turkish governmental rescue organizations.

“There are many ways that you can help,” Bozkurt said. “Even if you are helpless and your contribution is relatively small, it is still huge. During this time, it is important for everyone to come together and provide whatever are the necessities of the people who are left homeless or people who are still under the rubble.”

Resources: On-campus resources include Health Education Services (202-687-8949) and Counseling and Psychiatric Service (202-687-6985); additional off-campus resources include Crisis Text Line (text 741741).

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