Humanitarian efforts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Türkiye and Syria continue to be provided five months after the February 6, 2023, earthquakes struck both countries. These efforts and are now being expanded in Türkiye with the launch of new projects. The efforts of the Church continue to coordinate this labor with the Turkish authorities through AFAD, Türkiye’s governmental disaster management agency.
Rahma Worldwide is introducing in the opening of the Hospital.
Dr.Ümit Multu Tiryak Director of Health Ministry of Gaziantep thanks Rahma Worldwide and the church for the donation (fltr: Dr. Ümit Multu Tiryak, Elder Peter Huber, Dr.Shadi Zaza, Elder Ruben Alliaud.
Company Erkenek is working 8 hours per day for water delivery of the church.
The company Anexis was starting to produce 100,000 food boxes.
Dr. Ümit Multu Tiryak director of Health Ministry of Gaziantep, Elder Ruben Alliaud Area precidency, Elder and Sister Huber Welfare Missionary and Dr. Shadi Zaza President Rahma Woldwide are opening officially the extended part of the Hospital in Gaziantep.
The supplier Turmaks instructs the medical staff how to use medical equipment.
The third of five mobile Hospitals donated by the church in Payas, Hatay.
The third of five mobile Hospitals donated by the church in Payas, Hatay.
Examination room of the mobile clinic.
50.000 Children received two shorts and three T-shirts each on 28th of June.
Daily, five to six trucks of bottled water donated by the church leave to the affected area daily.
Celebration of the opening of the extended part of Gaziantep Hospital.
The Europe Central Area’s Welfare and Self-Reliance Manager, Christian Ottiker, underlines that 'in the wake of the devastating earthquakes that struck Türkiye and Syria in February 2023, we stand resolute in our commitment to alleviate suffering, maintain human dignity, and instill hope to all those affected. In coordination with the government and the help of many other relief organizations, we embrace the responsibility to provide aid to the shattered communities. Under the direction of the Europe Central Area Presidency of the Church, we remain dedicated in standing alongside with the people of Türkiye, offering a helping hand on the path to healing and restoration.'
One of the new projects consists in distributing bottled water to the populations affected by the earthquakes. With the infrastructures destroyed and the high temperatures typical of the summer, this is a much-needed relief. A total of five million bottles of 1.5 liters will be distributed over two months. The first of six daily trucks were loaded with 16,800 water bottles on June 19, 2023, in the city of Malatya, where there is a natural spring water source. These trucks will deliver the bottled water to different warehouses of AFAD in four cities that are in the main affected areas – Adiyaman, Hatay, Kahramanmaras and Malatya. From there the water is then distributed to the camps where thousands of families are currently living.
A new project to distribute an additional 100,000 food boxes and 200,000 hygiene kits was also started in the month of June. It will follow the same pattern of distribution to the impacted areas through the local facilities of AFAD in impacted area. The first truck, loaded with 2,184 food boxes departed in the first week of July. Trucks that carry hygiene kits can be loaded up to 3,000 units each.
All items are being sourced and purchased locally, allowing the local economy to get back on its feet and this in turn allows for more people to be employed again. Elder and Sister Huber, service volunteers who have been coordinating the work in the country mentioned that “since many people have lost not only their homes and possessions but also their jobs, it was important for us to give these people new job opportunities wherever possible. Therefore, when ordering the water, we considered a company that was itself affected and damaged by the earthquake. The company has repaired the damage, engaged more people and is very grateful for the large order of the church. This is helping the company to survive.”
The food boxes include some basic items like sugar, salt, rice, different types of beans, bulgur, pasta, jam, sunflower oil, and tomato paste. Hygiene kits include soap, detergent, toilet paper, sanitary items, hygiene items and underwear for men and women, among other items. Each day, call centers established by AFAD in the four main cities receive requests that come regularly from each tent and container camps in the respective neighboring areas and coordinate the deliveries of these items within the following 24 hours.
The Church also helped donating new children’s clothes that are usually associated with the Bayram celebration - or Sacrifice Feast – which is one of the oldest Islamic holidays in Türkiye. It commemorates the story about Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) who showed obedience to God by agreeing to sacrifice his son. God then sent him a ram to be sacrificed instead. The Sacrifice Feast comes about 70 days after the Ramadan Feast and it has later evolved in Türkiye to become a family celebration and instead of sacrificing animals, people make donations to the poor and to charitable organizations.
It is also customary to wear the best clothes during this holiday, and traditionally, children expect to receive a new set of clothes as a present. With the destruction caused by the earthquakes, most families simply did not have a way to purchase those clothes. The Europe Central Area Church leadership decided to help and has provided 50,000 bags that included clothes for children in eight sizes, for boys and girls.
The assembling, sorting and distribution of these clothes was done with the help of Church service volunteers and members of the Church who live in Türkiye. It was completed on time, as the holiday was celebrated this year on June 28. Elder Rubén V. Alliaud, second counselor in the Europe Central Presidency, participated in the distribution of the children’s clothing.
The Church also launched a new project that aims to supply 5,000 air conditioning units that will be installed in the housing containers that are the temporary homes of many families. With temperatures soaring to 40-50 degrees Celsius in the summer, conditions inside these temporary homes are also extreme. Being able to lower the temperature allows the families to live and rest at night. AFAD is also ordering 50,000 A/C units and it is expected the installation is done by the local provider Beko and by other companies. This project will be completed in the new few weeks.
Another new project sponsored by the Church was the construction and distribution of 50 housing containers for health and medical staff that is currently working in the main hospital of Antakya, in the Hatay area. These special housing containers include two single bedrooms, two toilets and an air conditioning unit. The project is being done in collaboration with the Health Ministry of Türkiye and it will be completed by mid-July.
Other relief projects launched by the Church a few days after the earthquakes struck are now nearing completion. The final mobile hospital of the five provided by the Church was installed in the city of Altinözü, Hatay province, and opened doors on June 22, 2023. The other four locations are the city of Erzin, the city of Payas and the city of Yayladagi, also in the Hatay province, and in the city Oğuzeli, in the Gaziantep province. The medical staff that works in these mobile hospitals was originally working in hospitals in the impacted areas that can now longer operate because of the damage they’ve sustained. Whenever these emergency mobile hospitals are no longer needed, they will be stored in a central facility in Türkiye and will be ready to be deployed to other areas of the country, as needed.
Another project consisting of supplying 500 housing containers for those displaced by the earthquakes is approaching its completion. 434 units have already been installed in several camps around Antakya and the remaining 66 units will be installed throughout the month of July 2023. These containers are used to house families in better conditions and progressively replace tent camps.
Also recently completed was the rehabilitation of the ‘Dr. Ersin Arslan Education and Research Hospital’ in the city of Gaziantep. The hospital was badly damaged by the earthquakes and most of it had to be evacuated. Other hospitals in that area were extremely overloaded with patients. Following an invitation from Rahma Worldwide, an NGO that also provides care and relief support across the globe, the local Area Church leadership decided to provide the funds to help rebuild and renovate the first and second basement levels of the hospital, so it would be able accommodate and treat the added influx of patients. Before the earthquakes, the hospital had about 2,000 daily admissions, that amount doubled after the earthquake.
After a month of work, the new hospital area that includes two additional floors was inaugurated on June 22, 2023. The Provincial Health Director Dr. Ümit Mutlu Tiriaki expressed his appreciation for Rahma Worldwide and the Church for this significant donation. The local companies that were involved in the construction work were also extremely grateful for the opportunity to re-start their own business and provide much-needed employment in the area.
Elder Ruben V. Alliaud, of the Europe Central Area Presidency, expressed profound gratitude for the opportunity to witness firsthand the Church’s unwavering commitment to help the victims of the devastating earthquakes. Present in the inauguration of the new reconstructed area of the hospital in Gaziantep, Elder Alliaud emphasized that “this compassionate aid exemplifies the Church's dedication to following the teachings of Jesus Christ, which call upon all to care for those in need. Through these efforts, the Church continues to demonstrate its heartfelt mission of bringing relief and hope to those facing adversity.'
Humanitarian Services of The Church of Jesus Christ
Humanitarian Services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints relieves suffering, fosters self-reliance and provides opportunities for service. It follows the admonition of Jesus Christ to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, clothe the naked and visit the sick and afflicted.
The Church’s humanitarian outreach is made possible by the generous donations and volunteerism of Latter-day Saints and friends of the faith. More than 6 million hours of labor are contributed each year by volunteers in support of welfare initiatives.
The Church sponsors relief and development projects in more than 180 countries and territories and gives assistance without regard to race, religious affiliation or nationality. Aid is based on the core principles of personal responsibility, community support, self-reliance and sustainability.
The projects in Türkiye and Syria are funded in part by LDS Charities Australia.