Six months after earthquakes in Turkey and Syria: STELP creates perspective for those affected

After the emergency aid provided, the work is now focused on building long-term shelters and support for those affected.

For the past six months, nothing has been the same in the regions around Hatay and Kahramanmaraş. More than 50,000 people lost their lives in the devastating quakes on February 6. Hundreds of thousands became homeless. “In the meantime, most local people at least have a roof over their heads again,” explains Serkan Eren, the founder and first board member of STELP. He himself was in the earthquake region for the last time about two weeks ago. “Many people now live in containers, but there are still some people living in tents,” he says. At first glance, people seem to be provided with the most important things. But the accommodations are only functional and provisionally furnished, in the containers it is unbearably warm during the day in the heat. Even after six months, there is no prospect of a future in the destroyed cities. “People have no jobs, no employment and the quality of life locally is zero. Many have moved away from the areas,” Eren continued.

Liveable container village in Kahramanmaraş

Together with its project partner, the Turkish sports club Galatasaray Istanbul, STELP e. V. wants to change that and give people back hope and, above all, a dignified life. That’s why the Stuttgart-based aid organization is working with Galatasaray to build a livable container village in Kahramanmaraş. With playgrounds and sports fields, several rooms in the containers, private terraces, attractive outdoor areas and psychological support, STELP creates a perspective for people in need through no fault of their own to stay on site. In addition, a second sustainable container village is being planned with partner NGOs. “Working on site is not easy for us. We need strong partners like Galatasaray to support us in the bureaucratic processes. I am very happy that we are one of the few foreign NGOs that can already implement a village. We are currently still in contact with the Turkish authorities regarding our further plans,” explains Serkan Eren.

STELP supports the construction of a multilingual children’s center

Children are especially close to STELP’s heart. Because most schools and nurseries were destroyed during the earthquake, many of them spend almost the entire day in small tents or shelters. They not only lack a place to retreat to or a place to play, but also their friends and a routine daily routine. The current situation has a considerable impact on the (psychological) development opportunities of children and young people and will also affect the educational opportunities of children in the affected regions. Therefore, STELP supports the network ‘Intercultural Social Service’ in Samandag to build a multilingual day care center for 100 children between the ages of one and six. The Stuttgart-based NGO also organizes and finances deliveries of relief supplies on site time and again.

Willingness to donate extremely decreased

“The willingness to donate after the earthquakes was huge. We received around 1.5 million euros in donations for our work in Turkey and Syria. Wir merken aber auch, dass die Spendenbereitschaft extrem nachgelassen hat”, sagt Serkan Eren.

Political situation in Syria complicates relief deliveries

“On this day, we must not forget the Syrians,” says Serkan Eren, who was also on the ground in Salqin after the earthquakes and distributed food to families in need at a camp for internal refugees. Together with partners such as Aid Pioneers, Civil Crisis Staff, and activist and journalist Helen Fares, STELP has brought several trucks full of relief supplies to towns such as Jableh and Afrin in recent months. “The politically tense situation makes our work in Syria extremely difficult. But together with our network, we keep organizing aid transports that bring relief supplies such as hygiene items, blankets and medical products to the affected people.”

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