Resilience amidst ruin: Humanitarian efforts in Türkiye

The Halal family

Resilience amidst ruin: Humanitarian efforts in Türkiye

By Rev. Tim Krick, Congregational Engagement Manager for Corus organization Lutheran World Relief 


As I rode through the streets of Kirikhan, Türkiye, my mind was filled with questions. Where would people buy food? Where would they work and go to school? What does recovery look like? The devastation before me seemed overwhelming. Most houses and buildings lay in ruins, reduced to piles of rubble. 

I observed numerous tent cities hastily erected in every available space across the city. Rows of 10' x 10' tents stood, sometimes haphazardly, providing immediate refuge from the elements. These tents are supposed to be temporary shelters for those who have lost their homes. 

Despite the many months that have passed since the devastating magnitude 7.8 and 7.7 earthquakes that struck Türkiye on February 6, 2023, families are still trying to piece their lives together.

Corus supports humanitarian efforts in Hatay province, Türkiye

Buildings destroyed in Hatay province, Türkiye

A family’s resilience

I had the opportunity to meet Seyda and Erkan Halal, survivors of the earthquake. Their harrowing ordeal began on February 6, when the ground began to shake and they hurriedly gathered their children, five-year-old Isa and 20-month-old Asya, and fled into the pouring rain. Their home was destroyed.

For two long days, they had no access to food or water, and they had to improvise a makeshift tent using iron bars and a tarp from a neighbor's house. Thirty-seven people from their neighborhood found refuge under this makeshift shelter until proper tents arrived.

Even after receiving a small tent from an aid group, life remained incredibly challenging for the family. Seyda describes their dire circumstances, saying, “No place to cook, no place to wash dishes. No place to eat, no clothes, no place to sleep. When it rains, water seeps in.”

Sedya explains, “The children are constantly crying. They don’t want to eat. We can’t change them. We can’t even take a shower. It’s incredibly tough. We’re just trying to make ends meet. I haven’t had a proper shower in about a month."

Corus supports humanitarian efforts in Turkey

The Halal family in front of their tent in Kirikhan.

Secure shelter

The Corus International family of organizations has been coordinating with local groups, UN agencies and other international humanitarian organizations to ensure humanitarian relief is reaching families like the Halals.  

The city of Kirikhan is situated in Hatay Province, one of the areas hardest hit by the quakes. Here, we are supporting the development of a prefabricated container housing community. Each container unit has running water and includes two rooms, a cooking area and a bathroom with a shower and toilet. This longer-term, secure housing will provide safe shelter for families as rebuilding and recovery efforts continue.

Corus supports humanitarian efforts in Turkey in the wake of the earthquakes

Fred McCray, Corus’ Senior Director of Humanitarian Assistance, overlooks the Corus-supported IBC Kirikhan container city.

With the additional support of our local partner International Blue Crescent (IBC), the Halal family will soon move into their own container home. We visited the family's future unit where little Asya and Isa were thrilled to see a space of their own. Asya, in particular, was enamored with the kitchen and bathroom sinks and the shower.

Corus supports humanitarian aid in Turkiye after the February earthquakes

Asya, in the arms of her father Erkan, plays with the sink in the family’s new container home.

Erkan expressed his newfound hope, “Now that we'll move into the container, we’re a bit happier. We’re excited that our children will sleep comfortably and have access to a comfortable shower. We’re genuinely grateful.”

After viewing the container home in person, Seyda shared her excitement, “I’m most looking forward to the bathroom and the toilet. That was our biggest concern.”

Erkan adds, “Our children are also delighted. So, we are happy too.” 

While humanitarian efforts are ongoing, and many challenges still lie ahead, the story of the Halal family is a poignant reminder of such strength and resilience in the face of disaster.