When Türkiye earthquake struck in 2023, Zehra, a 40 year old mother, and her family were severely affected due to the damage to their home received. Their struggle for life began immediately after the earthquake. 

In addition to the loss of their loved ones, they also experienced a significant decline in their quality of life in Antakya. Accessing basic necessities became challenging. Now the mother-of-six lives with her husband and children in a tent next to their relatives, approximately 10 minutes’ walk from their damaged house. 

Zehra is actively searching for employment; however, job opportunities are limited. She and her family have considered moving to other cities in search of work, but that poses yet another set of challenges for them. 

After the earthquake, Save the Children quickly provided humanitarian relief, distributing food, daily necessities, children’s school supplies, and personal hygiene items. We also provided cash assistance to the affected families to support them in meeting their basic needs. We set up a safe space for children, mothers, and babies, enabling children to regain joy and relief through play and addressing the needs of mothers and babies. 

Unlivable Tent Dwellings: 7 Families Sharing a Single Toilet

In the area where they live, they have built their own showers and toilets which are shared among families living in 7 tents. However, obtaining sanitary and hygiene items has become increasingly difficult. With the arrival of summer, their need for hygiene products has increased significantly. Zehra emphasizes the importance of cleanliness and regular showers, as she is aware of the potential risks of skin disease and other illnesses due to poor hygiene conditions. With 3 daughters, Zehra and her family have a critical need for sanitary pads, underwear, and cleaning products, particularly during the height of summer. This was even more so the case right after the earthquake, as sanitary pads were one of the hardest products to find. 

As the summer heat arrives, she also emphasises the importance of taking showers regularly and accessing women’s hygiene products in order to stay clean. Among the delivered items, shampoos and women sanitary pads are crucial for her. She remembers the challenge after the earthquake when she had to use clothes in place of sanitary products and burn them after each use. 

Inclusive Support: Empowering Survivors to Overcome Hardships

Zehra’s 15-year-old daughter, Dilek, is a positive adolescent girl who strives to empower those around her. She vividly recalls the days after the earthquake when they managed to overcome difficult times, 

The initial days were really hard. Sometimes we couldn’t find water even for 2-3 days. We had to stay thirsty. We couldn’t find food.”  

Save the Children repairs damaged schools so that children can continue their education. On the other hand, Save the Children held psychosocial support sessions for children affected by the earthquake. Children created their drawings by imagining their dreams and thinking about things that made them feel happy, working to improve the well-being of children while encouraging them to express their emotions and thoughts. 

Save the Children provides displaced families with safe water and toilet and shower facilities. Save the Children, through the funding received from the Disaster Relief Fund of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, provided hygiene and dignity kits to Zehra and her family. These kits consist of cleaning products and personal hygiene products for all genders. With these items, Zehra and her family will be better able to cope with living in a tent during the hot summer months, as well as minimise the risk of health risks linked to poor hygiene. Ultimately, we bring a brighter future for children. 

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