As we all know, two earthquakes with very high magnitudes hit Turkiye on February 6th. These earthquakes caused thousands of deaths and injuries, and many buildings collapsed. Although the government works hard, we do need each other more than ever. We must not forget that the first thing we need is our loved ones. Without their help, we are still in danger although we have been rescued, someone has to take care of us, feed and help us to take the necessary medical aid. The maintenance of the victims is as important as their redemption. If not intervened in time, earthquake victims may continue to suffer damage even after being pulled from the rubble. Somebody must take care of them and that’s exactly what we need. As civilians, we must help ourselves. We do need to know that the quickest and biggest help will come inside our own country. There are a lot of communities that have taken this as a mission. Let’s take a quick look at those non-governmental organizations.
To better understand their ideology, we must first understand who they are. The definition of an NGO is “a charity, association, etc. that is independent of government and business.” Well, the definition tells us a lot, but let me explain it a bit further. They engage in community organizing, advocacy, education, research, and service provision. They work on many important issues such as human rights, the environment, poverty reduction, health, education, and gender equality. The difference between an NGO and a governmental organization is that NGOs are based on volunteers and workers that don’t get paid. But when you work in a governmental organization, you get paid for your job. But when you are a volunteer, the only payment is a smile, seeing someone happy because of what you have done. It feeds your humanity, your love, and your passion for the job you do, making you want to help more and more. Volunteers care more about other people than themselves. They are our voice, our hand, our heart beating for help. That’s what we need in these desperate moments. They keep society together.
The first international NGO is Anti-Slavery Society was formed in 1833 in the USA. There are also some NGOs in Türkiye like “Türk Kızılay”.
Türk Kızılay (Turkish Red Crescent) is a community that was created by some volunteer doctors to help injured soldiers in 1868.
This makes the Turkish Red Crescent the first NGO in Türkiye. The Turkish Red Crescent is particularly active in disaster relief and emergency response efforts, helping those affected by earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters. After many name changes, they decided on this name in 2019. Nowadays, the Turkish Red Crescent does more than just help injured soldiers. They collect food and blood donations from all over the country. More than that, everybody could join the community. Turkish Red Crescent has fulfilled 90% of Türkiye’s blood requirement in 2021.
Another Turkish NGO is AKUT, (abbreviation in Turkish for Search & Rescue Association). AKUT volunteers work mostly on the front line.
For example, during the latest earthquake in Türkiye, AKUT searching squads worked on the field with 773 volunteers. According to the declaration, which was given on 10 February, they rescued more than 119 surviving victims. This is a good example of what NGOs are capable of. Well, many days have passed and AKUT continues rescuing people in the damaged zone.
Just like I mentioned, taking care of rescued ones is as important as rescuing them.
Another NGO, İHH (Humanitarian Relief Foundation) fills a big need for accommodation and nutrition.
After the major earthquake which happened on the 6th of February 2023, they gave a place to stay to more than 2 thousand people and fed 12.500 victims in the area.
One of the most useful and hard-working communities is AHBAP, which is created by Turkish rock musician Haluk Levent. They help victims in every way possible, including rescuing and taking care of victims. Under the permission of Hatay
Governorship, AHBAP has sent 2.000 containers to meet the basic needs of survivors.
The togetherness of Turkish citizens is far more than we could mention in a single article, but as we can see, we do need our citizens most these days.
We hope those help and works continue to help and rescue more victims in those areas. As you understand, making these kinds of things helps fulfill the gap between humanity and love. Our hearts are with the ones who stay under the debris. I'm sure with all this help, we will surely overcome these days and league together.