Reacting to the earthquake that rocked east Turkey on October 23rd, 2011, AAR JAPAN deployed 3 staff members on October 26th to help with the relief effort through distribution of food and daily necessities. Right in the midst of our efforts in the affected area, a strong aftershock again hit the same area, and unfortunately, one of our staff members Atsushi MIYAZAKI lost his life in a collapse hotel building.
We had suspended our activities after the incident, but as it remained that much assistance was still needed by those affected in Turkey, we decided to restart our project again. On December 14th, Kiyoto ONISHI, Deputy Secretary General of AAR JAPAN, entered Turkey to pick up where we left off, and on December 26th, Yoshifumi KAWABATA, a staff member of AAR JAPAN, also flew over to join him. On December 28th, we made a distribution of relief items to Akcaoren Town in Van Province in eastern Turkey.
People Suffering Through the Cold Winter in Tents
Akcaoren Town is a small town surrounded by mountains. Most houses have either completely collapsed or half collapsed as a result of the earthquake. Even those people whose houses didn’t collapse are living in tents out of fear for the next aftershock. The government of Turkey has provided some container houses, but it is not nearly enough to accommodate everyone. And if all that was not bad enough, the cold temperature during this season is unforgiving – water puddles remain frozen even during the daytime, and the temperature dips well below zero degrees Celsius during the night.
The morning of December 28th, our team packed our car with relief items procured in Van City, and made the one hour drive to Akcaoren Town. We distributed food items such as rice, sugar, biscuits, and macaroni, as well as non-food daily necessities such as underwear, detergent, towels to a total of 78 households. Once all items were distributed, they loaded their bags onto trolleys and returned home to share them with their families.
Afterwards, we got to talk to Mr. Yusuf BUCAGA (65 years old), the mayor of Akcaoren Town. He reported that, “We have received some relief goods from organizations such as the Red Crescent Society, but it was not enough for to ride the winter with. Thank you for coming all the way from Japan to help us.” He also remembered the day when Atsushi MIYAZAKI, our departed colleague, visited Akcaoren to survey the town. He said that he could not help crying when he heard of the news. “I talked a lot to Atsushi over tea. I immediately felt a certain closeness to him because he was just the type of guy that talks to everyone with a smile. I am truly grateful to the people of Japan for the support we have been given,” he said.
It is certain that the affected areas in Turkey will need further assistance. AAR JAPAN is committed to continue to provide aid to Turkey, and we are grateful for all the warm support that has come from all around Japan.
Distributed items per family
Food items: 10 kg of rice, 2 kg of oil, 750 g of salt, 3 kg of sugar, 3 kg of beans, 1 kg of macaroni, 1 kg of tea, 2 kg of canned tomatoes, 1 box of biscuits Non-food items: Underwear (2 pairs for men, 2 pairs for women, 4 pairs for children), 2 packs of women’s sanitary products, 1 box of detergent, 800 g of soap, 1 unit of hand cream, 3 towels, 1 tub