The news this week, in an online report by Arnold R. Grahl, highlights the continued effort of TRF to lighten the burden of victims of devastating disasters.

A year after the most powerful earthquake in nearly a century devastated parts of Turkey and Syria, Rotary members have helped people rebuild with container homes for hundreds of families, hospital equipment, and other essential support. A special Disaster Relief Fund created by The Rotary Foundation, now closed to contributions, raised more than US$2 million from donors around the world and funded about 60 grants that have allowed Rotary members to provide shelter, medical care, and other necessities. The earthquake on 6 February 2023 killed more than 55,000 people and affected 15 million others across southern Turkey and northern Syria. Many clubs and districts have organized humanitarian initiatives guided by Rotarians in the affected areas. The three districts in Turkey worked together to implement projects totaling US$10 million. Immediately after the earthquake, Rotarians in Turkey set up three tent cities to provide temporary shelter for 2,000 families. The districts have since used US$50,000 Disaster Response Grants coupled with other funds to establish two container cities while providing support for a third container city built by the local government in Ankara. Refik Kutluer, president of the Rotary Club of Ankara International, says his club arranged for six children whose limbs were amputated from injuries suffered in the earthquake to receive prosthetic limbs at hospitals in the United States. The treatments were provided at no cost to the families. “All these children have returned home and are again able to walk,” Kutluer says. “They continue to express their gratitude to Rotary saying that after the earthquake, they felt hopeless, but now they have been restored to life.” The Ankara International club also provided a mobile science laboratory and classroom for Ata College, almost completely destroyed by the earthquake. The school lost 26 students, two teachers, and two staff members in the quake. Classes are being held in prefabricated buildings. Rotary and Rotaract members have also purchased essential equipment for a hospital in Antakya. Using two US$50,000 grants, District 2430, Turkey, provided an ultrasound machine that hospital administrators requested as well as equipment to perform colonoscopies and endoscopies.

Written by Christopher W Knapp, District 6000 Foundation Chair

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