Lotus Students Work to Give Aid
The Muslim Student Association of Lotus Fundraises to Help Victims of Earthquake in Syria and Turkey
February 18, 2023
On the morning of February 6, 2023, a devastating earthquake struck Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon. Seismologists attribute the quake due to released tensions in between the Anatolia, Arabian, and African plates. The first earthquake was recorded at a 7.8 magnitude, which was one of the strongest earthquakes to hit this region in over 100 years. The following earthquake was registered at a 7.5 magnitude on the Richter scale.
The earthquake, according to the American Friends service committee, “left millions in Turkey and Syria facing severe weather conditions without adequate shelter, food, and water.” Days after the earthquake, rescue teams began to search for people buried beneath the rubble. Day by day, the death toll continues to grow in the thousands (currently about 40,000) as finding survivors becomes scarce.
Organizations across the globe are responding to the crisis by providing money, emergency response personnel, and other forms of aid. However, this isn’t enough. The WHO (World Health Organization) has estimated the quake to impact about 23 million people, as ten aftershocks were recorded with the uncertain possibility for more.
The severity of the situation is even worse in Syria as emergency aid is not being delivered due to internal political conflicts deterring international support. With this, it is becoming increasingly difficult to help Syrian victims.
Photo Credit: “Turkey, Van earthquake, IHH relief effort, October 26 2011.” by İHH İnsani Yardım
Currently, the Lotus Muslim Student Association is making efforts to aid the humanitarian crisis by donating supplies. Esra Hima, President of the MSA explains, “The efforts the MSA has been committing to overcome is to have physical donations shipped out. We are doing a separate relief drive for Syria where we reached out to three communities besides Lotus and raised thousands of dollars to hopefully be transferred to helping Syria on the ground.”
Esra shares what students can offer for the donation. “The MSA accepts items such as winter clothing [anything that can help the victims survive in the freezing temperatures], hygiene products, baby formula, diapers, and small housing utilities. Bring donation items to room 218 into Ms. Khadija’s and if you would like to donate more or help in any other way, please reach out to MSA Presidents Newal Nasir or Esra Hima. The MSA is asking you to please participate in this donation drive with whatever you can.”
(Update 02/17: MSA has exceeded the donation limit and would like to thank everyone who has donated. They are working on getting the shipments to Turkey and will keep Lotus updated. They are, however, still accepting monetary donations for Syria to Ms. Khadija’s room this week!)
Mr. Durmus, who approved the initiative, shares a personal connection with the impacted region in Turkey having attended university there for two years.
He comments, “I lived in that region; it’s a sentimental area for me as well, and it is a center of very diverse culture. I had so many friends who lost their loved ones and personally. I have a couple of friends in Colorado that lost more than twenty members of their family… A young gentleman from my town who was playing for a team there lost his life. I was just on the phone with my dad two days ago and he was just returning from the funeral from a distant relative. The devastation is affecting us in many ways for our friends, loved ones, and relatives.”
Both Esra and Mr. Durmus emphasize the reality of the situation, grappling with the fact that human lives are at stake.
Esra declared, “What is most heartbreaking about this event is that many people across the globe are ignoring it. They aren’t paying tribute to the victims who passed away and to those who are currently fighting off this unfortunate and horrific event. I would like to note that this event has left many children without parents and parents without their kids…This is a humanitarian cause, not a political cause. We are all humans and therefore should be offering our help in any way possible.”
Mr. Durmus states, “I mean, this is real life…we are talking about human lives, not just a number.”
This event has caused a great stir around the world. We encourage everyone to raise awareness, support those impacted, and make donations to the drive if you are able to.