Newsportal - Ruhr-Universität Bochum
“Acknowledge our pain, talk to us and stand with us.”
Sena Demir is studying English and American Studies. She moved from Turkey to Bochum in April 2022. In an interview she reports, how she felt when she heard from the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
Sena Demir, when and where did you receive the first information about the earthquake?
I woke up very early that day. I don’t have any social media accounts, but I was listening to a live podcast on YouTube and I heard the newsbreak. Every channel was mentioning another city as the epicentre of the earthquake. I immediately tried to contact my friends and their families in those cities. However, I still haven’t managed to talk to all of them.
What was your first thought?
As someone who experienced one of the biggest earthquakes in Turkey’s history back in 1999, when I was only five years old, unfortunately, I am very familiar with what such an earthquake can cause in countries like Turkey and Syria. My first reaction was to try to reach the people I know. However, there was no signal on the earthquake victims’ mobile phones due to the damage and nobody officially confirmed what the situation was really like until the next day.
Those, whose homes had not collapsed, were getting back into their homes due to the harsh winter conditions in the area. Then I heard about the second earthquake and saw some videos of buildings that hadn’t collapsed in the first earthquake collapse. What can one think when your home, the supposedly safest spot on earth, collapses and buries you and all your beloved ones into darkness and deafening silence under wreckage?
Tweets, stories, and posts are still saving lives, helping us to reach those who are in need.
What do the people need?
The earthquake razed Maslow’s pyramid of needs to the ground in Turkey and Syria. They need everything, from physiological essentials such as shelter, food, and clean water, to medical supplies, and socio-psychological support for all. They immediately need tents, containers, hygiene kits, mobile toilets and showers, medicine, vitamins, heaters, coats, boots, socks, and underwear. Those are essential to be able to survive. Nobody knows when the dreadful shock ends. Until then,both, in Turkey and Syria, people need to be reminded that they are human beings and that they are not left alone.
How do you try to help? And how can people from Germany help?
I couldn’t travel back to Turkey to be with my friends and my family, and I couldn’t accept sitting with my hands tied, bearing the heaviness of the situation. I believe it is not going to take a short time to rearise for anyone. Therefore, we want to raise awareness and thus started working on a project called “Call for Collective Solidarity” for the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. We will be introducing trustworthy organisations that have been actively working in the region such as Ahbap, The White Helmets and Orange. It’s very important to support the volunteers in the region to see immediate change.
Volunteering students will set up information desks on campus, and hang printouts of QR codes linked to organisations’ donation webpages for one-time or monthly donations. I also find it absolutely crucial to mention that our culture is rooted in collectivism, not individualism. Our information desk and volunteers will be in front of the library from 20 Februrary 2023 onwards. I invite everyone to get in touch with us, to try to acknowledge our pain, to talk to us and stand with us.
17 February 2023