Anne O’Rorke, the Waterford woman who launched the nonprofit Team International Assistance for Integration (TIAFI) in Turkey in 2017, is appealing for donations in the wake of the devastating earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday, February 6.
“TİAFİ is doing everything we can to support victims of the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria,” the organization said on social media on Tuesday.
TIAFI is encouraging people to donate via its GoFundMe page or bank accounts.
TİAFİ is doing everything we can to support victims of the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. İf you would like to help...Posted by TIAFI on Tuesday, February 7, 2023
After managing to get emergency medical supplies to clinics in Idlib in northern Syria, TIAFI said on Wednesday that it was "working through the night to get emergency medical supplies to a second hospital in Idlib."
“We are trying to get the basics into these centres in Idlib," Irish woman O'Rorke, the head of TIAFI, told The Journal this week.
"They need fuel for the ambulance, they need blood bags, syringes, and catheters.
“We have a tight window to get a delivery to them. Many of the roads are cut off, there is flooding in areas, it isn’t going to be easy.
“We don’t have time to wait – this is very real, people are dying.”
O'Rorke said TIAFI is concerned about getting support to hard-to-reach communities in Syria.
"There is no one coming with cranes to help some of the people I have spoken to today," O'Rorke told The Journal, "so as a small Syrian-focused organization, we really see it as our duty to do what we can to help those falling between the cracks.”
O’Rorke said that most of TIAFI’s team are Syrian refugees and that they’re “desperate” to help despite having so little.
“Syrians have been dropping off blankets and clothes here so we can donate them to the Turkish government, because that is all they have to give,” O’Rorke told The Journal.
“We have all been crying,” O’Rorke said. “But these women have faced war, Covid-19, poverty, and now an earthquake. I don’t know how they keep going, but they do, and so what they want to know is ‘How can we help? What can we do?’”
O’Rorke, who had moved to Izmir, Turkey from Ireland to head up a construction company, launched TIAFI in 2017 “in response to the difficulties experienced by the vast number of refugees fleeing from war-torn Syria who require physical and social support in a safe and welcoming environment.”
TIAFI opened a community center in the Tepecik neighborhood with the aim of increasing "the empowerment, self-sufficiency, and integration of vulnerable Syrian and Turkish families in Izmir."
AnnePosted by TIAFI on Monday, January 2, 2023
On Monday, Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) said that two earthquakes had occurred, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake in Pazarcık, Kahramanmaraş at 04:17 am, followed by an additional 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Elbistan at 1:24 pm.
Reuters reported on Wednesday evening that the death toll in Turkey and Syria had surpassed 12,000.
Among those killed in the tragedy were three family members of Sabrina Dourmash, a Syrian refugee currently living in Co Roscommon. Dourmash's mother, sister-in-law, and two-year-old nephew were killed in Aleppo when the building they were in collapsed.
Dourmash told RTÉ News: "I feel lucky that some of my family have survived but I wish I could be there for my brother's children to feed them and keep them warm in freezing temperatures.
"It's just heartbreaking."
Meanwhile, three tons of aid donated to the Turkish embassy in Dublin was shipped to Turkey on Wednesday, RTÉ reported, with the Turkish ambassador predicting another shipment would be made on Thursday.
In Ireland, donations can be made at any post office to the Irish aid agency GOAL, the Irish humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide, the Irish Red Cross, or UNICEF Ireland.
Amidst a global outpouring of support and solidarity, Ireland announced on Monday it would provide €2 million in emergency assistance to the people of Turkey and Syria.