Turkey’s eastern Van Province was rocked by a 7.2 earthquake on October 23rd, leaving 604 people dead and 28,000 houses uninhabitable. Following severe aftershocks this week that caused further collapse many people are afraid to return to buildings which are not damaged for fear of further seismic activity.
I haven’t managed to find a single organisation accepting unskilled or unaffiliated volunteers (as usual) but there is certainly much to be done. Turkey sits on two major fault lines and has experienced many large and devastating earthquakes in its history. Having been spared for a decade the country is well prepared with stocks of tents and other relief items. Neighbouring countries have also offered equipment and experts to assist the community. Heavy equipment has moved in quickly and with a particularly young local population, labour is on hand as and when the rubble clearance begins in earnest.
Given that Turkey is well developed and that the response to this disaster is well-coordinated and well supplied, it seems like the local community could support a handful of experienced and intrepid volunteers wanting to start digging through the rubble that the machines can’t reach. Much has been made, and rightly so, of the potential negative impact that unsolicited volunteers can have on local resources, including housing and food. Remembering that temperatures are well below freezing at night, a decent tent, some water purifying tablets and a giant sack of Pasta ‘n’ Sauce should ensure that you’re not a burden on this particular disaster-impacted area.
Pack a wooly hat and a shovel and let me know how it goes!
Accompanying my friend to the hospital to have her huge pus-filled armpit swelling lanced I took the opportunity to ask the doctor about a mysterious rash of red dots that have spread over the last couple of days, from my left hand, up my arm, across my back and down the other side! Fearing that my pillow was infested with bedbugs and would therefore have to be burned – bear in mind there’s nowhere to buy another and I sleep on the floor – I was happy to hear that either I’m being bitten by ants and need to move my bed or I have an allergic reaction and need to wash more often. Considering how often I’ve been showering – read: not a lot – I’m going with the second one and am now making a concerted effort to shower at least once a week – joking, once a day. Probably.
Sorry All, Haiti has this strange effect on me. It is an all-encompassing place. There is always so much going on, so much work to do, so much fun to be had that blog-writing has definitely taken a back seat since I arrived. Well, not even taken a seat really!
I have been planning and teaching an advanced English course to some of our staff and volunteers, preparing reports on natural disasters around the world for All Hands and spending the weekends in Port-au-Prince working in a bar, bringing in some cash so that I can keep volunteering. Today I’ll be accompanying two volunteers to the local clinic with minor complaints, calling the Canadian Embassy about a lost passport and working on this week’s English classes. In other news, we discovered a new bar last night, mere meters from base, with a large selection of flavoured moonshine – and for only 25p per eyelash melting shot. As they say here in Haiti, “Oh-oh!” (emphasis on the second ‘oh’ and with a higher pitch).