Korean members assess earthquake damage in Turkey, pledge relief

Members of the assessment team from Korea listen to District 2430 Governor Emre Öztürk (white jacket) during a visit to a tent village in the earthquake-damaged area of Turkey.

By Duck-JU Lee, Rotary Club of Cheonan Dream, Korea

After the earthquake that devastated parts of Turkey, a team of Rotary members from District 3620 (Korea) traveled to the affected area to assess the damage and support our fellow Rotarians. The journey to the region where the earthquake caused the most damage was long and arduous. It took our team a solid two days to arrive at our destination.

It was my first time in Turkey, but I noticed many similarities to home. The weather and air in early March felt the same. As we were heading from the central region of Turkey to Adana, I experienced a milder climate and vast landscapes. I was saddened to see the devastation in such a beautiful place.

We were greeted by 50 Turkish Rotarians from District 2430 and District Governor Emre Öztürk when we arrived in Adana, a major city in the region. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we reached an arrangement between our districts to support one another. When we heard about the earthquake, our governor, Seo Young Lee, felt we should go and help. We agreed to assess the situation and provide necessary support.

By visiting the site and understanding what was happening and what people needed, we could find better ways to help and be confident that our donations would make a difference.

We first visited a temporary shelter for about 100 families in a gymnasium. People had set up tents outside because they feared being indoors after the traumatic earthquake. We experienced four aftershocks ourselves during the visit. They were powerful enough to give me a feeling for the trauma they faced.

In Anatolia, the team saw houses that had collapsed and were leaning into the street.

In Anatolia, we saw houses and buildings that had collapsed on both sides of the road. It felt like the entire city had been hit by a bomb. It was heartbreaking to the point of tears. The Turkish Rotary members told us that the earthquake had displaced more than 2 million refugees. This is equivalent to the population of my home province, Chungcheongnam-do.

Turkey clubs in District 2430 set up 110 tents just three days after the earthquake to provide shelter for those who lost their homes. Facilities such as toilets, showers, and water purifiers were installed to create a livable environment in this tent village. Another camp of 200 tents were set up nearby, thanks to funds from The Rotary Foundation Disaster Response Fund, with plans to add up to 1,000 more. People in the tent village recognized our Rotary branded clothing and thanked us for our support.

Governor Öztürk told us they were doing their best to help people and wanted to communicate frequently to coordinate our help. Governor Lee promised to help with reconstruction efforts not only during her term, but for the next two governors, who also made the trip.

We signed a memo of understanding to donate $40,000 to one of their global grant projects as an international partner and $30,000 of our District Designated Fund directly to their district. We began a fundraising campaign asking every member to give $10, which resulted in a donation of approximately $35,000 to the Foundation’s Disaster Response Fund. The donated funds will mainly be used to provide shelter for those who lost their homes, including the creation of container villages.

I hope that not only our district but also many other districts in Korea and around the world will join in the relief efforts to help Turkey and practice humanity for those who have lost their homes, families, and cities.

Give to the Disaster Response Fund

Read this post on the Korean Rotary blog

2 thoughts on “Korean members assess earthquake damage in Turkey, pledge relief

  1. Cool stuff!.
    This is what I see in your post
    Great blog post about the assessment team from Korea visiting the earthquake-damaged area in Turkey. It’s heartwarming to see Rotarians coming together to support one another and make a difference in the lives of those affected by the earthquake. Can you share more about the specific global grant project that the memo of understanding donation will go towards?
    Thanks, Ely Shemer


  2. Pingback: Korean members assess earthquake damage in Turkey, pledge relief - Rotary Club of Medford Oregon

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