‘”We are here, get us out of here.” I started from behind pushing my sister until the hole was completely enlarged, and she and I came out of it to life again.’
Ali and his little sister were under the rubble for 12 hours, along with their mother and brother. Their brother was trapped under the roof of the house and Ali had to listen to his cries get weaker and weaker until eventually they stopped. By the time Ali and the rescue efforts had managed to dig down to where his mother and brother were, his mother had also gone.
Ali’s story is not unique, the devastation and destruction following the earthquakes on 6th February 2023 was immense; the death toll is at over 50,000 and a further 100,000 have been injured. People have lost their families, their homes and any sense of stability. Millions of Syrian refugees along the Turkish border were already facing harsh winter conditions with little shelter, a cholera epidemic and little access to health care and are now dealing with the aftermath of the region’s worst natural disaster in a century.
READ Foundation currently runs five nonformal education centres along the Turkish-Syrian border, working with refugees and host communities to ensure access to quality education for all. These centres focus on accelerated learning, psychosocial support and activities such as robotics lessons that will ensure the students have a skill to take on through their lives. This presence meant we were well placed to respond to the emergency, delivering food, clothes, blankets and shelter. READ is now looking to shift its focus to recovery and rehabilitation through the provision of temporary learning centres (TLCs), child friendly spaces, school rehabilitation and psychosocial support. Parents and children affected by crisis or natural disaster consistently cite education as a top priority, and the role of education in making people more resilient to future shocks cannot be over emphasised.
We have years of experience supporting orphans and providing education to the world’s most vulnerable by setting up mobile classrooms in refugee camps, conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters. As the first organisation to set up TLCs after the Pakistan earthquake in 2005, our experience of post emergency and rehabilitation interventions is extensive. In response to the 2022 Pakistan floods, we were able to immediately deliver life-saving essentials before establishing child friendly spaces for learning in Sindh, ensuring a safe environment for children to learn and play. In Yemen our interventions include rehabilitating learning facilities, providing mobile learning, increasing the capacity of teachers and psychosocial support, all of which ensures boys and girls have equitable access to safe, protective learning spaces.
TLCs and safe spaces are crucial for the continued education of children impacted by conflict and disaster, and also provide stability and security in a world turned upside down. We believe it is critical that vulnerable children have a safe environment to learn and grow and we will be working to provide as many children as possible affected by this earthquake a safe, protected space to learn.
You can support the READ Foundation Turkey Earthquake appeal here.