Turkish community in Halifax comes together to help aid earthquake victims
Organizers of a fundraiser at the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market this weekend are hoping to raise at least $12,000 to assist Turkish victims of an earthquake that rocked southeastern Turkey and northern Syria on Feb. 6.
The death toll from the earthquake has already exceeded 45,000 with many more injured and millions homeless.
The bake and art sale on Saturday and Sunday was organized by the Turkish Society of Nova Scotia.
Turkish national Acelya Erten was visiting her daughter, a student in Halifax, when the earthquake hit.
"I think I've been crying a lot and it was so bad," she said at the sale on Saturday. "You are wondering, 'Where are they? How are they?'"
Burcu Kaptan, the president of the society that has 1,000 members in Atlantic Canada, said when members heard about the earthquake their first inclination was to help.
She said the weekend sale was organized to create awareness and raise donations to send to organizations on the ground in Turkey.
The Red Cross will match donations made to the society for earthquake relief, she said.
Kaptan said their initial goal was to raise $5,000 but that was reached quickly.
Although regional desserts and savoury goods were the main items on sale over the weekend, Kaptan said there were plans to host other fundraising events, including an art auction.
Erten said the worst thing for her was not being there to help. She said she was thankful for all the people who attended the fundraiser and donated.
"Even though I'm not there, I know the donations will be at the right place," she said.
Tulgar Ilhan, an international student from Turkey, said his family's home in Mersin, Turkey was shaken, but there was no damage.
Ilhan said his uncle's family in Kahramanmaraş, closer to the epicentre, lost their home and cars.
He said injured people from other areas have been transported to the university hospital in Mersin, where his father works as a doctor.
"My dad is talking about how there is no place anymore to get more injured people because hospitals are full," Ilhan said.
Kaptan said everyone in the global Turkish community has been affected by the disaster whether or not they have lost a loved one. She said knowing that millions of people have been left homeless has also had a deep psychological effect on the community,
She said the wider Canadian community has offered support, including psychologists offering counselling.
"This coming together and helping together is really, truly the best process of our healing," she said.
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