Journeys Towards Rebuilding
After disaster strikes and the immediate needs of the affected population are met, what comes next? Working with local partners, CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) provided immediate relief to over 27,000 people in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that caused widespread destruction across Southern Türkiye and Northwest Syria in February 2023. Once the food kits, cash voucher cards, and hygiene items were distributed, the road to long–term recovery began.
In the Hassa district of Hatay Province, CORE worked with the local municipality, partner organization YSYD, and the Chamber of Craftsmen to rebuild economic capacity in the region by supporting the restoration of small businesses and agricultural ventures led by women entrepreneurs, directly affecting more than 350 people.
“After the earthquake, we went to the greenhouse before dawn,” said Sebiha Deli, a 53-year-old mother of three and cancer patient.
Sebiha had grown vegetables for years to supplement her husband’s pension and feed her family. After the earthquake, displaced families began congregating in her greenhouse.
“We all gathered about 20 people to stay in our greenhouse together … and then everyone set up a tent for themselves,” Sebiha said.
With CORE’s grants, Sebiha started anew, ordering the necessary materials needed to restart vegetable production, allowing her to keep her business afloat and provide for her family while maintaining this newfound safe haven for her community.
Reyhani Yeral worked in her greenhouse for eight years. At first, she started growing flowers and eventually switched to farming vegetables to help provide for her family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On February 6, things for Reyhani and her family got much worse. The 44-year-old, who is also battling cancer, saw her greenhouse become a shelter for her displaced family after the earthquake.
“Life hasn’t been anything like it used to be. The depression … we can’t get used to it. Whenever we go to downtown [Hatay], to witness that destruction … it hurts us financially and spiritually,” Reyhani said.
Reyhani walks around her greenhouse with a member of CORE staff. CORE Photo by ImagesLive.
Reyhani talks with a member of CORE staff inside her greenhouse. CORE Photo by ImagesLive.
Reyhani’s husband and life partner of 25 years died of a sudden heart attack in May, leaving her to rebuild her life alone. “It’s all to support my daughters. I have to provide for my family. Life must go on,” she said.
Reyhani had a list of her most important needs – chief among them: electricity. With CORE’s support, Reyhani purchased a generator that has been vital in keeping her and her animals warm when the power grid fails, a common occurrence, she says, as the area’s population swelled in the earthquake’s aftermath. In the wake of everything bad that’s happened, Reyhani said, “This project gave us relief.”
“My life was good before the earthquake,” said Bestami Yenican, a 47-year-old tailor, who followed in his father’s professional footsteps. A family enterprise, the work encompassed multiple locations, where the eldest of his six daughters worked alongside him. Life was not perfect, but they were happy.
Then, on February 6, while his family slept in their beds, the earthquake struck. With no time to get to safety, Bestami used his body to shield his youngest daughter, age 2, who had been curled up in bed with her parents, until rescuers pulled them from the rubble of their home 44 hours later.
While Bestami survived, the earthquake claimed much of his life. His business, his savings, his home, his wife, and four of his daughters were all gone.
“I was someone who worked with his children. I didn’t have staff. Now I can see their memories everywhere I look,” he shared.
With two daughters to care for, Bestami needed help rebuilding a life for his girls. CORE’s support allowed Bestami to replace some of the material items for his business that were lost, giving him enough assistance to reopen his shop.
“I am not going to give up,” he said. “After all, I have two more children. I want them to see the world [and see] we are back in our own business again. Your help was relieving for us. And we are ever so grateful.”