At 04:00 on 6 February 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, followed by several large aftershocks, took place near the city of Gaziantep, Türkiye, in the southeastern part of the country. People across Türkiye, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and Israel were reported to have felt it. Since then, OM's partners have responded to help many.
In a small village in the south of Turkey, in a distribution warehouse of one of OM’s local partners, a woman stood preparing a salad for people impacted by the recent earthquakes in the area.
Cigdem herself had awoken in the early hours on 6 February to the violent shaking of her house and rushed to wake her grandchildren and bring them outside to safety. For a while, the building remained standing, but then the family watched as it crumbled to the ground.
“We have nothing left,” she shared with a visiting OM partner. When asked where she was staying now, she replied: “Here”, indicating the warehouse she was working in. “These people have helped put up a tent for me and my family. In return, I help them prepare food for the many people that come every day.”
Cigdem is experiencing the love of Christ through the local partners who helped to shelter her. “I don’t know what the future is,” she said, “but I know God will help us.”
Many people, like Cigdem, fled from cities to more remote villages. Some had family living there or knew someone who might house them, but even villages have seen losses. In Cigdem's village, an OM local partner responded the day following the initial earthquake by setting up a camp stove and some basic supplies. In the first week, volunteers cooked non-stop to feed those who had lost homes and were helping with search and rescue efforts. Eventually, better equipment was delivered, and the partners were given a storage space where they built a field kitchen in two containers. Volunteers continue to prepare three meals every day for over 500 people. Aid/Food packages are distributed from this location into more outlying affected areas around the village.
Recently, a large water drum and filter system were delivered and set up to ensure people could collect clean water. Many remaining homes still experience long periods without water and electricity as local authorities work to restore infrastructure.
Mehmet*, a trained chef, is a Jesus follower from an unaffected city in Turkey who responded quickly to the need to help feed so many people. He arrived in the village shortly after the first earthquake to help cook in soup kitchens. “I’m able to use my skills to help in a practical way and bless people. It’s tiring, but we are here for our country.” He is just one of many volunteers who are serving those in need during this time and living out their faith.