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‘We will cry later’: The volunteers feeding thousands left desperate by Turkey-Syria earthquake

Two volunteers, exhausted but determined, are helping earthquake survivors.

President of Empathy Association Gaziantep Ceren Ugurluer and Canan Severoglu worked night and day to coordinate distribution of food and supplies to the most affected areas of Turkey.

They are both from the same city where was destroyed. This scene is repeated across southeast Turkey, where over 6,000 buildings were flattened.

They know that there is no time to be sad or upset and they are committed to sending supplies to places where food, water and clothing are scarce. This includes villages and towns across Turkey. They have already helped thousands.

Image Ceren Ugurluer (left), and Canan Severoglu

Sky News’ Ms Ugurluer stated that she could reach more 10,000 people with food. She also said that they could reach more people than 14,000 to give bread. Then, there were more than 4,000 people who received winter jackets. And, [we] have unlimited amounts of water and milk. We cannot count.

There have been two hundred fifty volunteers joining them at the Sahinbey Empati School, also established by the charity. This is where hundreds of people have been coming to get away from the cold and get some sleep.

Image The school has children who sleep at their desks.

Ms Ugurluer said, “We have more than 200 people staying here. It’s not a school, so there aren’t beds. However, blankets are available and people are making use of the space.

More about the Turkey-syria earthquake

“Our school is in good condition with no damage, but all their houses were destroyed.”

Following the tremors, she is still anxious.

She said, “Even when the kettle sounds, I believe it might be an earthquake.”

“It’s not an alternative for us”

Empathy’s soup kitchen is just five minutes away from the school.

Trucks loaded with flour, rice and pulses enter the gates. Thousands of survivors are also welcomed to the shelter, where they are offered a meal of lentil soup and bean soup with freshly baked bread.

Image 14000 people will receive bread
Image Soup was given to hundreds

When asked by their sisters how tired they were, the sisters replied that they had to. We can’t do it. Although we feel tired, we can’t take a break. But not now.

“There are hundreds upon hundreds of people who have nothing. They sit in parks, empty mosques… anywhere.

“We are sending them supplies. We must be united with all.”

We will weep later’

Empathy was established in 2009 and is a respected organization in Gaziantep. It is located 20 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake.

They are provided with food and money by donors from around the world, including the UK and Germany. But the association is asking for more.

Image People line up at the Empathy Association to get food and supplies

Born and raised in the city of Istanbul, Ms Severoglu has lost her family and friends in the catastrophe but she remains determined.

“We will weep later. She said that she believed there were still people living under the rubble, and that there was an opportunity to rescue them.

“I believe there’s hope, and I believe in miracles.”


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