Journeys Towards Rebuilding
On February 6, 2023, in southwestern Türkiye, there was a jolt and roar. Then, the world violently pushed forward and pulled back. The brutal shaking went on for a harrowing 75 seconds. Millions of buildings were damaged, many of them beyond repair, leaving over 50,000 people dead and 3 million without a place to call home.
In the aftermath, CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) mobilized and arrived in the country to assist by distributing food kits, cash voucher cards, and hygiene supplies. After meeting immediate needs, the long road to recovery began. With our local partner in Türkiye, YSYD, CORE provided financial support to impacted local business owners in the Hassa district of Hatay Province to offer a sense of stability and a meaningful way forward.
48-year-old Nesrin worked tirelessly to grow her textile business on the bottom floor of a three-story building that she and her family also call home. Then, the earthquake hit.
In the shaking, the building that Nesrin had built her life around suffered severe damage, tilting to one side – in one moment, she lost both her home and workplace. She felt like she had witnessed the end of the world.
Now, with almost nothing to their name, Nesrin’s husband said they moved in hopes of getting jobs to provide just enough for their children and grandchildren to survive. But the whole ordeal took its toll. Nesrin said the family had plenty of sleepless nights, unsure of what the future might hold.
Fortunately, they found some relief when they moved into temporary housing and more confidence when the Hassa Municipality gave Nesrin a new workspace in a “container market,” where business owners could get back on their feet.
With assistance from CORE and our local partner YSYD, Nesrin received the necessary equipment to help her business thrive. With her future back on track, she has hope for whatever may come next.
“We hit rock bottom. We had nothing left. We have lost everything, but this gave me hope. Like therapy, it felt so good,” she said.
For 31-year-old Haydar, life was everything it was supposed to be. He had a wife and a child, a home in Hassa, and his coffee shop, a place that provided a steady income and gave him and those who visited a sense of community.
Then, the powerful earthquake struck, upending everything he had worked so hard to build. Luckily, his family was safe, but the earthquake destroyed their home and his beloved coffee shop. With almost nothing left, he and his family moved back with his parents to regroup. But getting back on their feet proved difficult.
Then, the local government in Hassa provided him with an opportunity to start over by giving him a storefront. CORE and YSYD stepped in to help Haydar buy new equipment to get his shop back up and running.
“So, what you really gave us was support, a little ray of sunshine. We had hope…Thank you for your help. We have figured out how to hold onto life again,” Haydar said.
Now, Haydar has reopened his coffee shop in this new space where people can gather and enjoy all that is good in the world. For Haydar, this support has been crucial in helping him get his life back on track, and it gives him a glimmer of hope for what will come next. He has his eyes squarely set on the future.
Osman is 28, and for a few years, things were going well. After spending years working on a ship, he diligently studied graphic design and eventually opened his own advertising business. It thrived and Osman was even able to hire four employees to keep things running.
On the night of February 6th, he was in his sixth-floor apartment with his wife and six-month-old baby. When the quake hit, he quickly grabbed his family and fell to the floor, using the bed to shield them from falling debris. When the shaking stopped, and they carefully made it to the ground floor, they saw chaos.
“We got down. It was a total apocalypse. People were running, bumping each other. Some were barefoot,” Osman said.
The family spent the next few days at Osman’s father-in-law’s house a few kilometers out of town as people began helping those trapped and hurt and assessing the severe damage. In the aftermath, Osman discovered that his business had been destroyed. Everything he had worked so hard for was now gone, and he questioned his future.
He said, “We fell into despair. Would we ever open a shop again?”
Thankfully, all was not lost. Through the small business support program, Osman re-opened his shop. And now with the provision of new equipment, he can help advertise for other shops that are beginning to reopen and continue to support the community that he calls home.
CORE photos by Images Live