Disaster relief

Turkish Rotaractor details experience of helping ShelterBox respond to earthquake

Turkish Rotaractor details experience of helping ShelterBox respond to earthquake

Yunus Emre recently spoke to ShelterBox, Rotary’s disaster relief partners, about his experience of distributing aid to those affected by 2023’s devastating earthquakes in Turkey.

Rotary has been instrumental in ShelterBox’s response to the earthquakes in Türkiye from the very beginning.

Rotarians provided ShelterBox with critical introductions to local authorities, valuable translation services at training sessions, help arranging travel and logistics across the country, not to mention assistance in the distribution of aid.

These incredible Rotary connections have made a huge difference – they have been essential to ShelterBox’s response in Türkiye.

One such connection has been with Yunus Emre, the President of Istanbul Erenköy Rotaract Club. He was one of many Rotaract members who became involved in the Türkiye earthquake response, accompanying the ShelterBox team during distributions and even supporting with translation during visits to affected areas.

We sat down with Emre and spoke about his involvement, the impact of the Rotary and ShelterBox partnership.

Could you tell us about your involvement with ShelterBox during this response?

I was in Gaziantep, the city where my family live, when the earthquakes happened. In the first few days, our Rotaract Club was looking to help people as much as we could. Then I heard that ShelterBox was arriving in Türkiye, and I was keen to get involved as I had heard of their work before. I also thought it would help us reach more places. So, that’s how my journey with ShelterBox began.

I have since travelled all over with ShelterBox in Gaziantep, Samandag, Adiyaman and Malatya, helping out at distributions along with other Rotarians. It has been really important for me to do this – it’s such a big job and so important.

Can you tell us what it was like being involved in the distributions with ShelterBox?

Emre is the President of Istanbul Erenköy Rotaract Club.

With ShelterBox, we visited a lot of different places. When I first started, we were seeing a lot of damage wherever we went. We were visiting a lot of villages and harder-to-access rural areas. We are so glad for everything that ShelterBox is doing in Turkiye.

If you could say one thing to other Rotarians about the work that Rotary and ShelterBox are doing, what would it be?

Even before the earthquakes, I had heard a lot of things about ShelterBox. I knew they’d help people and knew that Rotary and ShelterBox were partners. But [since the earthquakes] I realised how important ShelterBox’s mission is during times like these. I think all Rotarians should work with ShelterBox to understand the benefit of their work. I want Rotarians to come together and make more people aware of ShelterBox’s work.

How would you describe the impact of the partnership between Rotary and ShelterBox on your local community?

It is really important. Rotarians have also been affected by the earthquakes, but they are still trying to support other people. Having ShelterBox supporting us has made this a lot better and manageable for us. ShelterBox helps make operations run smoother.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I want to thank ShelterBox and all of its supporters. I see the impact that you have made in Türkiye – in my own country and hometown. But I see [ShelterBox’s] impact everywhere, not just in Türkiye. It is very important to work together.

In particular, I want to thank everyone who I worked with in Turkiye. They are always working – it’s like they’re Superman! So, I thank you so much.

In collaboration with Rotary, ShelterBox’s Project 1 in Türkiye supported 2,000 families affected by the earthquakes in Hatay, Antep Maras, Malatya and Andiyaman. The project supported people’s immediate safety by providing a considerable shelter package including emergency shelter and essential household items such as thermal blankets, mattresses, stoves and solar lights. To find out more about ShelterBox’s response in Turkiye and Syria, visit: Earthquake in Turkey and Syria – ShelterBox.