Rowan students express the Turkey-Syria earthquake’s impact on their families

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There is a drop-off location for supplies, clothing and other items for victims of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria located in the SJICR office on the second floor of Hawthorn Hall. - Photo / Flickr

On Feb. 6, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the border of Turkey and Syria and was followed by a 7.5 magnitude quake hours later, along with hundreds of aftershocks that have decimated the region. 

More than 100,000 buildings were destroyed in Turkey and the estimated death toll between both countries currently sits at over 46,000 according to AP News. With the number of deaths still trending upwards, it’s the deadliest earthquake since Haiti suffered over 200,000 casualties back in 2010.   

On Monday, Feb 20, another earthquake at the Turkey-Syria border with a 6.4 magnitude killed at least six people and injured hundreds more — just 14 days after the first quakes.

According to the United Nations, 1.5 million people in southern Turkey have been made homeless and 9 million Syrians in the northwest part of the country have been affected by the cataclysmic disaster.     

Glassboro is over 5,000 miles away from Turkey and Syria yet a catastrophe of this scale has personally affected the lives of students inside the Rowan community like junior Asem Kannan, from Syria, and senior Murteza Hasan, from Turkey.   

“Personally, I still have some relatives who also have witnessed that scene. Some have lost their loved ones and some suffered injuries. Although, such a disaster is not something new to them. They have witnessed many devastating scenes over the past 12 years. From losing their houses, and loved ones, to witnessing their own family massacred,” Kanaan said. 

A tragedy like this one will require people worldwide to come together in a humanitarian effort to help those who have been displaced by the earthquake.

“What happened in Turkey was nothing less than a humanitarian catastrophe. It really hurt to see videos of buildings coming down and people being pulled out of rubble in the aftermath of the earthquakes. I felt like I had to go there and help them dig out myself, or at least do my part from here,” Hasan said.   

Rowan might be thousands of miles away from Turkey and Syria, but people here can lend a hand by donating to a variety of relief efforts or dropping off supplies such as canned goods and clothing to numerous drop-off locations found throughout the state.  

On campus in Hawthorn Hall, the Office of Social Justice, Inclusion, and Conflict Resolution has set up a drop-off location for students to donate supplies such as winter clothing, tents, blankets, flashlights, diapers, food boxes and any other essential items. 

Other local drop-off locations include the Hamidiye Mosque in Willingboro, the Selimiye Mosque in Burlington Township, and the Murat Camii Mosque in Monroeville. 

The existential threat of natural disasters is a universal feeling, but with one of this magnitude, it’s hard to feel anything but helpless as the death toll continues to climb with first responders still pulling people out of the rubble. 

In a time of crisis, it is upon the shoulders of everyone, not just those directly affected, to lend as much support as possible to the people of Turkey and Syria. 

“I personally wish for an even stronger earthquake to shake the people’s hearts, to shake their humanity to do something about this situation,” Kanaan said. 

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