A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the southeast of Turkey and northwest of Syria on Feb. 6. More than 7 million children have been affected by this earthquake, and the death toll has surpassed 35,000 and will continue to rise according to World Vision. After the devastating news, Drew students from Turkey and Syria sprung into action to help their countries.
On Feb. 8, at 6 p.m., the Tilghman House, Sudenaz Yilmaz (’25), her brother Efe Yilmaz (‘26) and Karnie Dishoyan (’23) hosted an information session on ways to donate to their home countries. They provided QR codes to donate for Syria and Turkey. The students described the effects of this catastrophic event as tears fell from their eyes and students were shown pictures of the earthquake’s effects that often do not surface on social media as quickly.
Dishoyan explained that the international sanctions on Syria have made it even more difficult for Syrians to receive any form of aid. In light of these difficulties, Dishoyan organized her own fundraiser to personally send donations to those affected. Students can send donations to @Karni-Dechoian on Venmo. Sudenaz Yilmaz and Dishoyan emphasized that a little can go a long way. For example, donating one dollar allows people to purchase one full meal.
Later, Dishoyan said being so far from home was difficult even in normal times.
“When a crisis occurs, not only do I miss family and friends but I also want to be able to alleviate the pain, which can be difficult to do from so far away. The Drew community has helped me feel seen and heard,” she said.
At Drew, Dishoyan said: “I felt helpless but with this community I’m lucky to be provided with the connections that can help me make a difference. The community here at Drew has raised awareness on issues going on outside the US. This makes students well rounded and is symbolic to the liberal arts education we get here.”
The student government has donated $500 to send resources to the Turkish and Syrian embassies, and Dishoyan has reached out to the French department and other departments to help fundraise more donations.
The earthquake “has fostered a closer bond between Syrian and Turkish students here at Drew,” she said. “Unfortunately it might be a trauma bond. This bond can also be seen as a human bond. In any way we can help each other, we are there for each other.”
“I appreciate Drew’s community in making underrepresented communities feel heard,” Dishoyan said.
Nicole Giao is a sophomore majoring in international relations and minoring in French.