Slow Food communities in Turkey: building a new future for the victims of the earthquake

27 Feb 2023

Slow Food Convivia and Communities in Turkey organized to reach the cities most badly-affected by the earthquake of February 6, and offer their support.

 width=“With this terrible earthquake people lost not just their houses, but their memories, their belongings, their communities. A few days ago I heard someone say: ‘The Fear will pass but the sadness will always be here with us.’” Sabiha Apaydın Gönenli, of the Slow Food Community Heritage Vines of Turkey, describes the situation in her country: “People reacted immediately, trying to help in whatever way they could. With our network of restaurants we tried to send some food and kitchen equipment to the most affected cities, though we knew we had to do more. In the first two days people had nothing to eat, they needed to be saved”. The Turkish people showed incredible solidarity, investing their time and money to help autonomously, without waiting for official aid systems. “We used to buy a lot of vegetables, wine, oil and fruits from the affected area for our restaurant, as it is a very rich agricultural region. That’s why now it’s important to start thinking about the future for these people: they can’t leave their villages and their fields, as we risk losing part of our biodiversity. We must take care of our nature. Our scope now and in the years to come is to help them stay, giving them economic and psychological support. There are too many orphans left behind who deserve a future,” continued Sabiha.

 width=Her words are echoed by Mustafa Alper, leader of the Slow Food Ida Convivium: “The earthquake area is 1400 km away from where we are,” he explains . “We managed to get to the area after a long drive and we set to work in a kitchen organized by our local municipality. We brought some food, some olive oil, cheese, bulgur and some fuel. Before leaving, women of the community baked some sourdough bread, which can be kept fresh for a long period and everybody participated in collecting goods. The situation we face here is very difficult to describe. Many houses have been destroyed or cannot be inhabited, people sleep in tents and in their vehicles. Our team also set up a tent camp and barrel stoves were built outside to keep people warm. People were unable to leave the city, and we help those who cannot leave, those who work here, and those who are waiting for their funerals. Since the day the earthquake occurred, many institutions, organizations, local government branches and volunteers have brought some help, though there is still a lack of global coordination. Yesterday I saw women working in the fields among the ruins. They were planting vegetable seeds surrounded by their children, trying to keep going and thinking about the future even if they had just lost their relatives. I think this is very important, a lot of people are returning to their villages in the countryside. Hope and food can be found in the villages! The city of Hatay as we know, no longer exists. The social, cultural and economic structure formed over tens of thousands of years have completely collapsed. Future plans to support the region should take the demographic structure and the ancient culture of the region into consideration.”

You can support people affected by the earthquake by donating here: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/disaster-support-in-turkey/

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