One Year Since Turkey Syria earthquakes: Raneem's story


One Year Since Turkey Syria earthquakes: Raneem'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. In the midst of ongoing recovery efforts, the stories of individuals like Raneem serve as powerful reminders of the resilience of communities in Syria and Türkiye, as well as the considerable challenges that still lie ahead. 

Before the earthquake, Raneem, 53, lived in the town of Jindires, north of Aleppo Governorate, where she worked as a tailor to contribute to the needs of her family of five. She reminisces about her life back then sharing, “Our life was good, and we were considered a happy family.”  

However, the earthquakes brought tragedy to Raneem’s doorstep. The family’s home was lost as a result of the earthquake, as was everything they owned. But that is not all they lost. 

"I lost my eldest son under the rubble. My youngest son lost his right forearm and left leg and I lost my right leg," she says.  

Raneem, who was now unable to work, had to face the harsh reality of her new circumstances. She recalls the heartbreaking parallels between her old life and the life she now faced. “It changed horribly to the point that the mind cannot bear it. We used to live in a wonderful house made up of walls and a roof that protected us from cold and heat…to a tent that did not protect us from either.” 

After spending two months in hospital care, undergoing surgeries and amputation at Atma Hospital on the Turkish border, Raneem faced additional challenges upon leaving. “After the earthquake, we had no place to go and were forced to live in a tent (in an informal settlement), in difficult living conditions because the camp is not able to provide the services needed.” 

Relief International and it’s partners National Syrian Project for Prosthetic Limbs (NSPPL) helped bridge the gap.

We initiated an individual plan for Raneem, providing her with rehabilitation sessions and psychological support, while arranging for her to receive a new prosthetic limb. We also arranged transportation from the camp to the local rehab center to make sure she was able to get to and from her appointments.

Samir, the physical therapist who supported Raneem says, “Raneem has responded well to the treatment plan and support sessions. Her resilience has been a crucial aspect of her recovery process. It will help her adapt to the prosthetic limb, empowering her to perform daily tasks again, especially now that her muscular structure is ready for the installation of the prosthetic limb.”

Describing her anticipation for the prosthetic limb, Raneem says, “I dream of getting the limb. I can hardly believe that I will be able to move around independently, return to my work, improve our living conditions, and be able to achieve my dream of sending my children back to school.” 

While she awaits the installation of her prosthetic limb, Raneem acknowledges the positive impact of the physical therapy sessions and psychological support she has received so far. 

"I was able to regain hope that my conditions and those of my family could improve."  

As we mark one year since the earthquakes, stories like Raneem’s are all too common. More than 33,000 people were displaced from Jindires alone and over 5 million in total across Türkiye and Syria by the earthquakes.  

Relief International and partners like NSPPL, with the help of ECHO funding, are at the forefront of the response, actively addressing the challenges faced by earthquake survivors in both Syria and Türkiye. Together, we have provided over 16,000 rehabilitation sessions for people injured by the earthquakes, as well as over 2,000 assistive devices and over 1,000 prosthetic limbs.

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

As we navigate the complex landscape of post-earthquake recovery, it becomes increasingly crucial to help respond to the great demand for rehabilitation services.

For Raneem, and many individuals like her, the road to recovery is long, but with continued collective effort, it is a journey that holds the promise of restoration and resilience.

Her message to the world is, “A person’s inability to carry out their daily life independently feels like living in an open prison. Even if those around you love you, no one can imagine the difficult situation of people with disabilities. I hope you support people with disabilities and help them regain their lives.”

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