One Year Since the Türkiye and Syria earthquakes: Aziza's Story


One Year Since the Türkiye and Syria earthquakes: Aziza's Story

It has been a year since Türkiye and Syria were devastated by earthquakes, killing over 55,000 people, injuring 130,000, and impacting over 15 million.

Among the 15 million-plus affected people is Aziza, a 59-year-old with a history of cognitive issues. In 2015, she fled the Syrian war to Hatay, Türkiye, where she moved in with her sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and nephews. 

 Aziza’s family struggled to find work, but were able to bring in just enough money to make ends meet. 

 The earthquakes changed everything. 

The family’s home was damaged and several members of Aziza’s family were injured. They were forced to seek treatment at the Adana City hotel and eventually found shelter in Mersin.  

 The earthquake left Aziza with muscle weakness and an imbalance in her walk. Unable to move without an assistive device, she leaned on her sister, Hadiya, for support.  

Hadiya became the primary caregiver for Aziza and her (Hadiya’s) husband, whose leg was broken during the earthquake. This new dynamic added an immense strain to the family, taking a very large toll on Hadiya. 

 Clearly in need of assistance, concerned neighbors eventually referred the family to Relief International, and our local partner EVSAD (Turkish Home Health and Social Services Association).

 We conducted comprehensive assessments including balance and muscle tests to determine the best course of action for Aziza. A physiotherapist worked diligently with her, developing a muscle-strengthening program and exercise regimen to help get her moving, as well as providing a four-wheeled walker for improved mobility. This device not only enhanced her mobility indoors and outdoors but also allowed her to rest when needed. 

 Aziza now feels empowered by her newfound mobility, relieving the pressures from both her and her Hadiya.  

 "My sister had a hard time walking even at home and would sometimes fall. However, thanks to this device, she has become much more comfortable. She can walk without fear and has a place to sit when tired. She is happy she is able to go wherever she wants now," says Hadiya

As we mark one year since the earthquakes, stories like Aziza’s are unfortunately all too common. In Hatay, Türkiye alone, more than 700,000 people were displaced, including 350,000 Syrian refugees.

 Relief International and local partners, with the help of USAID (Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance) funding, are at the forefront of the response, actively addressing the challenges faced by earthquake survivors in both Syria and Türkiye.

 Assistive devices, prosthetic limbs, and physiotherapy sessions together can be transformational. They improve mobility and confidence, help people become more independent, and ultimately move on with their lives. 

Together with our partners, we have provided over 16,000 rehabilitation sessions for people injured by the earthquakes, along with over 2,000 assistive devices and over 1,000 prosthetic limbs.

Yet, even after a whole year, many individuals with serious injuries are still at the very start of a tough recovery journey. Across both Syria and Türkiye, hundreds of people are still waiting for assistive devices and prosthetic limbs. 

The road to recovery is long. Yet, with continued collective effort, it is a journey that holds the promise of restoration and resilience. 

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