From food and water to children’s clothes for a festival, Church adds new projects to existing efforts for quake victims in Turkey

Other projects include donating mobile hospitals, helping reconstruct quake-damaged hospitals and donating housing containers and air conditioners

The distribution of food boxes, hygiene kits and bottled water as well as a special delivery of new children’s clothes in time for a traditional Islamic holiday are among the new and continuing humanitarian efforts sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the five months following the devastating Feb. 6 earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

The new projects focus on needs and relief in Turkey and are coordinated with AFAD, Turkey’s governmental disaster management agency.

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Elder Ruben V. Alliaud, a General Authority Seventy and counselor in the Europe Central Area presidency, expressed gratitude to witness firsthand the Church’s unwavering commitment to help earthquake victims.

“This compassionate aid exemplifies the Church’s dedication to following the teachings of Jesus Christ, which fall upon all to care for those in need,” said Elder Alliaud at the inauguration of a newly reconstructed area of a quake-damaged hospital in Gaziantep, Turkey. “Through these efforts, the Church continues to demonstrate its heartfelt mission of bringing relief and to those facing adversity.”

Dr. Ümit Multu Tiryak, second from left, director of Health Ministry of Gaziantep, Turkey, is joined by Elder Ruben V. Alliaud of the Europe Central Area presidency in opening a reconstructed part of a hospital in Gaziantep, Turkey, on June 22, 2023. Also participating are Sister Carla Huber and Elder Peter Huber, center, Church welfare missionaries. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Christian Ottiker, Europe Central Area’s welfare and self-reliance manager, said that in the wake of the devastating earthquakes, “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.”

He added that under the area presidency’s direction, “we remain dedicated in standing alongside with the people of Turkey, offering a helping hand on the path to healing and restoration.”

The latest update on the Church’s relief projects and efforts were published on the United Kingdom Newsroom site Thursday, July 20.

Water distribution

One new project is distributing bottled water to the affected population, with the Church estimating the delivery of 5 million 1.5-liter bottles over two months.

The first of six daily trucks was loaded with 16,800 water bottles on June 19 in Malatya, from a natural spring water source there in one of Turkey’s quake-impacted areas.

Company Erkenek is working eight hours per day for to deliver bottled water as part of a project sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Turkey in the summer of 2023. The water is going to those still impacted by the Feb. 6, 2023, earthquakes. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Trucks are delivering the bottled water to different AFAD warehouses in four cities of the most impacted areas — Adiyaman, Hatay and Kahramanmaras along with Malatya. From the warehouses, water is distributed to camps where thousands of affected families and individuals are living.

AFAD-established call centers in each of the four main cities daily receive requests coming from tent and container camps in the neighboring areas and coordinate the deliveries of water, food and other items within a 24-hour period.

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Additional food boxes, hygiene kits

Another project is distributing 100,000 food boxes and 200,000 hygiene kits, continuing the supply of such items since early after the quakes. With the latest effort starting in June and having a similar pattern of distribution to impacted areas through AFAD facilities, the first truck of 2,184 food boxes left the first week of July.

Trucks can accommodate about 50% more hygiene kits — 3,000 units — at a time.

Food boxes include basic items such as sugar, salt, rice, different types of beans, bulgar (boiled and dried wheat), pasta, jam, sunflower oil and tomato paste.

Hygiene kits include soap, detergent, toilet paper, sanitary items, hygiene items and underwear for adults, among other items.

Aiding local employment

All items are sourced and purchased locally, which not only aids the local economy but also allows more people to be employed.

Since many people lost not only their homes and possessions but also their jobs, the Church and its welfare services representatives sought ways to give people new job opportunities wherever possible, said Elder Peter Huber and Sister Carla Huber, a full-time humanitarian couple from Switzerland based in the Church’s area headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany.

For example, when ordering water, the Church involved a quake-affected company, which has repaired damages, engaged more people and grateful for the Church’s large order, the Hubers said.

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In Turkey, 50.000 children received two pairs of shorts and three T-shirts each on June 28, 2023 — the day of the Sacrifice Festival, an Islamic holiday. The new clothing was one of several projects of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help those still impacted following the Feb. 6, 2023, earthquakes in Turkey. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Children’s clothing and ‘Sacrifice Feast’

The Church is helping to donate new children’s clothes in association with the Bayram celebration — or Sacrifice Feast. It is one of the oldest Islamic holidays in Turkey.

The celebration commemorates the obedience of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to God by being willing to sacrifice his son. God then spared Isaac’s life by sending a ram to be sacrificed instead.

The Sacrifice Feast occurs about 70 days after the Ramadan Feast, and in Turkey it has evolved into a family celebration. Rather than sacrificing animals, individuals make donations to the poor and to charitable organizations.

Also, it is customary to wear one’s best clothes during the holiday, and children traditionally expect to receive a new set of clothes as a present. The damages and losses resulted in most families in impacted areas being unable to have a way or means to purchase such clothes, so the Europe Central Area presidency directed the provision of 50,000 bags that included clothes in eight children’s sizes for both boys and girls.

Church service volunteers and Latter-day Saints living in Turkey helped with the assembling, sorting and distribution of the clothes. The project was completed and deliveries made on time for the holiday celebration on June 28 this year.

Bundles of clothes — provided, sorted and packed in part by the Church of Jesus Christ and its members — await distribution in Turkey’s AFAD warehouses in the summer of 2023. The clothes are being delivered to individuals and families impacted by the Feb. 6, 2023, earthquakes in Turkey. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Air conditioning

Another new project is to supply 5,000 air conditioning units for installation in the housing containers used by many families as temporary homes.

With summer temperatures outside between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius (104 to 122 Fahrenheit), conditions inside the temporary homes are extreme.

AFAD is ordering 50,000 air conditioning units, with the installation being done by the local provider and other companies. The project is expected to be completed in over the next several weeks.

Housing containers for health, medical staff

Another new Church-sponsored project is the construction and distribution of 50 housing containers for health and medical staff working in the main hospital of Antakya, in the Hatay area. The containers include two single bedrooms, two toilets and an air conditioning unit.

The project is being done in collaboration with the Health Ministry of Turkey and will be completed this month.

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Pictured is the third of five mobile hospitals — this one in Payas in Turkey’s Hatay province — that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated following the Feb. 6, 2023, earthquakes in Turkey. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Other projects nearing completion

A number of relief projects launched by the Church soon after the February earthquakes are now nearing completion.

The last of five Church-provided emergency mobile hospitals was installed in the city of Altinözü, Hatay province, opening its doors on June 22. It joins similar facilities in the three Hatay cities of Erzin, Payas and Yayladagi and the city of Oğuzeli, in the Gaziantep province.

Medical staff working in the mobile hospitals were previously working in hospital facilities rendered useless or dangerous because of earthquake damage in the impacted areas.

When the emergency mobile hospitals are no longer needed, they’ll be stored in a central facility in Turkey, ready to be deployed to other areas of the country as needed.

Inside the examination room of a mobile clinic donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints following the Feb. 6, 2023, earthquakes in Turkey. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

A project supplying 500 housing containers for quake-displaced individuals and families is approaching completion, with 434 units already installed in several camps around Antakya and the remaining 66 by the end of the month.

The containers are used to house families in better conditions, progressively replacing tent camps.

Also recently completed was the rehabilitation of the Dr. Ersin Arslan Education and Research Hospital in Gaziantep, which before the earthquakes admitted 2,000 patients daily. Its severe damage resulted in most of the hospital being evacuated, sending patients and quake victims to other overloaded hospitals.

New waiting and operation rooms in Dr. Ersin Aslan Education and Research Hospital in Gaziantep, Turkey, in the summer of 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

With an invitation from Rahma Worldwide, an NGO that provides care and relief support worldwide, the Church’s area leaders decided to provide funds to help rebuild and renovate the first and second basement levels of the hospital, which was able to accommodate and treat additional patients.

Elder Alliaud participated in the June 22 inauguration of the two additional floors, with local companies involved in the construction work appreciative to be able to re-start their businesses and provide much-needed employment in the area.

Rahma Worldwide is introducing in the opening of reconstructed basement levels of the Dr. Ersin Arslan Education and Research Hospital in Gaziantep, Turkey on June 22, 2023. The Church helped restore the two levels that were inoperable after the devastating Feb. 6, 2023, earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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