Life keeps swinging
in the midst of rubble and ruins
A colourful playground stands firm in between of waves of rubble from collapsed buildings in Antakya. For Beste, now the only child around these streets, this is a miracle that can keep her mind and heart from the traumatic experience she lived only a few days ago. Swinging and climbing up the slide is one of the few things she can do to keep the memories away.
“When the evening comes, she tells me: daddy, let’s go to a house that does not shake”, says Memduh, her father, “she does not like the tent because sometimes there are bugs inside”. Debora, a Spaniard living in Türkiye, asks us to not forget about playing with the children and spending time with them. They are struggling heavily in the inside. “Psychologically, she is gone, she is suffering”, Memduh says about his daughter.
Memduh (47), his wife Serpil (26), and Beste (4), were inside the house when the earthquake hit. The wardrobe fell on Memduh and his hand was seriously cut. Their house did not collapse, even though it is severely damaged. Now they are staying in a tent in front of it.
“We have not been able to overcome it. Even when we are in the tent, we are still scared”, says Memduh, and later on adds “Psychologically we are very hurt. Which father wants his child to live in these conditions? But we don’t have anything else”.
That statement is very close to the truth. Right now, they don’t have a roof, running water, electricity, or food… Everything they have now comes from the tremendous help that Elmas and Hamdulah are providing to their neighbours. They are the pastors to one of the few churches in Antakya. Their house, next to Memduh’s house, didn’t collapse either and they are using it now for storage and a kitchen.
“It is Elmas, Hamdulah and the church that has helped us. Nobody else has really helped us. It’s thanks to them that we are still here. Because nothing came to us from the authorities”. However, what they miss the most are not material things. “It would be good if people were here with us, so that we would feel more encouraged and not feel that scared”.
This has been one of the most important lessons from our assessment in Türkiye. People need people. Right now, it does not matter the background, the language or the culture barriers. They just need people to surround them and be with them in these ghost cities full of silence and desperation. This is one of the main reasons why we are bringing a DART team to the ground.
“Thank you to anyone who wants to help us and thank you to the church as well that has been helping us. Basically, they saved our lives. If they were not here to provide for us, I don’t know what we would do” – Memduh.
Written by Pau Abad, a member of GAiN’s disaster assessment team, on 16.03.2023 in Hatay Province, Turkey.
To help people like Memduh, Serpil, and Beste, visit give.agape.org.uk/turkeysyriaquake/