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Bloomington Turkish community takes action in wake of deadly earthquake

TSA at IU.jpg
Posted at 11:31 PM, Feb 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 12:15:59-05

BLOOMINGTON — A massive earthquake near Turkey’s border with Syria has killed tens of thousands of people since Monday.

The devastation doesn’t just stop there — the local Turkish community in Bloomington is feeling the aftershock, too.

“This is not a national thing. This is humanity. We need each other and we are really weak on that. We cannot control life," IU graduate student Selim Yavuz said.

As of Thursday, the death toll has surpassed 21,000, with an estimated 75,000 injured.

“We try to call them, if they’re okay, we couldn’t reach them first two days, we couldn’t reach. We heard they're dead or they’re still trying to, people are still trying to rescue them," Yavuz said.

Yavuz came to the United States from Turkey in 2019 to continue his education.

He’s now the president of the Indiana University Turkish Student Association or TSA.

“We feel, how can we help? We’re really far away from our home country," he said.

Many people in the region have lost their homes and are in dire need of food, shelter, and medical assistance.

Yavuz and dozens of others in the local Turkish Community want to help.

They started a GoFundMe to raise money for earthquake relief.

In 24 hours, they raised $6,000. They’d like to raise $50,000.

“Our goals is to support our country, first of all, as financially, because they need to buy mobile houses, mobile hospitals, tents and for this they need money. That’s our first priority," Filiz Akyuz said.

Akyuz came from Turkey to IU for graduate school, as well.

She says the response from the university and Bloomington community has been encouraging.

“They’re really with us. They’re always asking what we need, what they can do. This is really warming and really great. They are with us," she said.

IU TSA will transfer the donations to AHBAP.

The Turkish non-profit organization has been actively working in the distribution of earthquake relief since a major earthquake devastated more than ten cities in southeastern Turkey.