Fareeha Amir has been to disaster sites before. But the devastation in Turkiye was unlike anything she had ever seen. In just a few seconds, the earth moved, and entire cities were completely destroyed. Some people were crushed, and those who made it out lost everything.
Fareeha was among Islamic Relief’s first emergency responders after the February 6th earthquake, which affected 13.5 million people across Turkiye and Syria, including 50,000 people who lost their lives and many more who were injured, lost their homes, and have limited to no access to fuel or electricity.
“We saw in the rubble people’s livelihoods, their memories, their belongings,” she said. “In a pile of rubble there was a pair of small golden shoes, and we couldn't help but wonder if the little girl made it out alive or not.”
During the emergency mission, Islamic Relief reached 34,500 people with distributions of food packs, non-food items such as blankets, and cash assistance for the purchase of basic necessities including food, water, and emergency medicine.
While doing a food distribution in the city of Hatay, 1 mile from the Syrian border, Fareeha met a woman named Maryam. She lost 5 members of her family, and spoke of the earthquake as being the sound of thunder that shook the entire world.
“But from her mouth was nothing but thanking Allah,” Fareeha said. “She didn’t complain that she lost everything or that she had to go through this. She just said alhamdulillah.”
Maryam is one of many Syrian and Turkish women who have been affected by the earthquake. Many of them were refugees and widows due to the war in Syria, and the tragic events of February 8th and its aftermath has made life even more challenging for them. They now must live in a tent or informal sheltered living for a long period of time and their amenities will be shared. Many of them have lost their means of livelihood.
“In Syria particularly, it's a crisis on top of a crisis,” Fareeha said. “Those who escaped the conflict, now face another disaster, and much of the progress humanitarian work had made over the past 5-6 years has now gone back to square one.”
For children, both in Syria in Turkiye, there will be lasting psychological effects of living through this earthquake, and continuing to go through the trauma as aftershocks happen. For young children in Syria, they have seen nothing but war, and now even more devastation has hit them.
“Many children in Turkiye and Syria are now out of school, and may not have the formal education for a year, or for some even more,” Fareeha said.
While the earthquake garnered widespread attention on social media for a few weeks afterwards, like everything on social media, it has since died down dramatically. However, there is still so much work to be done and so many people who need our help.
“The emergency is never over when the media leaves, or social media shares decrease,” Fareeha said. “Entire cities in Turkiye and Syria need to be rebuilt. Aid and support to rebuild is necessary now, and the need in Syria is so great. International support is needed to rebuild homes, to rebuild livelihoods, to provide water and sanitation, education, and so much more.”
As a brand founded and owned by Syrian American women with family members who have been directly impacted by the earthquake, we are proud to support the incredible work of Islamic Relief. When you purchase this year’s Ramadan solidarity scarf, Sadaqah Blue, 100% of proceeds will be donated to help those impacted by the devastating earthquake in Turkey & Syria, through their important work.
Shop the Sadaqah Blue hijab to contribute to this cause now! If you'd like to make a larger donation, you can make a donation here.