Turkey-Syria earthquake: school brings some normality

Half a year after the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, people are still trying to come to terms with the aftermath. Together with its partner organisation Hatay Yardım İnisiyatifi Derneği and the New Apostolic Church Western Germany the relief organisation nak-karitativ supports traumatised children.

nak-karitativ reports: The city of Antakya in Turkey was almost completely destroyed by the earthquake that devastated parts of Turkey and Syria on 6 February 2023. Ninety per cent of the city have been levelled. Thousands of homes and businesses collapsed, tens of thousands of people were killed, and even more injured. The trauma runs deep in adults and children alike. In order to restore some semblance of normality for the children and to relieve their parents and create jobs again, we will finance a scholarship programme starting in September 2023 for children at Ekin College, a school in Antakya, with a modern educational concept and committed teachers who have not given up despite the extremely difficult situation.

Emotional relief for parents and children

“I lose my way all the time in the city because almost all the reference points are gone,” says David, principal at Ekin College Defne in Antakya. His parents were buried in the rubble. It took days to reach them. He now lives in a container himself and works all day in order to raise funds to run his school. He is dependent on support himself and gets his food from the soup kitchens. He can no longer pay for his daughter’s studies unassisted. His life’s work at Ekin College is his emotional support. “Thanks to donations, we were able to set up tents and offer recreational activities for the children after the earthquake. When the children were here with us, they started to laugh again,” he says. He plans to reopen the school on 8 September 2023 and provide scholarships for children who have lost parents, their homes, or siblings.

A special focus will be placed on children who have a physical disability as a result of the earthquake. Some have lost limbs. For the children, going back to school means getting out of the debris because the school is on a hill. From up here you can hardly see the destruction. What’s more, the parents will be relieved financially by the scholarship and emotionally because they know that life can go on for them here in Antakya. Every school that reopens and every shop that sells something means a little hope for the people. Finally, about 75 teachers will once again have a job and thus a salary.

Pressing on in Antakya

Antakya is home to many older communities and people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds who live together peacefully. Families with children, who ensure the continuity of society, left the city after the earthquake in order to make sure that their children would be safe. In order for these families to come back and for others not to leave the city, educational opportunities are needed. Families whose children are given access to education in the city will see a future for themselves and will begin to contribute to the city and society in which they live. With your donation, you will help in making a once peaceful place worth living in again and help the children overcome their trauma and regain hope. School is a safe place for them to learn and spend time with friends. The teacher-child relationship is important for the children. Most of the teachers have been working and helping the children without pay since the earthquake. They are also supported by your donation.

So far, we are able to fund around seventy-five scholarships. We hope to receive support from other organisations and also hope for private donations. The target is 350 scholarships for about 30 kindergarten children, 100 primary, 100 middle, and 120 high school students. A scholarship costs around 2,500 euros for one school year.

The campaign

The objective of this campaign is to contribute to the mental health of the people affected by the earthquake in Antakya on 6 February 2023 as well as help with reconstruction of educational facilities. Our goal is that 350 children affected by the earthquake, who would otherwise not be able to go to school because of the extremely difficult situation, will successfully complete the next school year and be able to better cope with their traumas. We are working towards the following:

  • that 350 children can attend school and receive a quality education
  • that 74 teachers and the administrative staff once again have an income
  • that 350 children receive professional support and help with problems
  • that 350 children receive a daily lunch
  • that 350 children receive school books and, if needed, the fare for their school bus.

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Jennifer Gutzeit, Tatjana Augustin, Katrin Löwen
Turkey, Aid agencies, Social commitment