Fife charity worker describes Turkish devastation following earthquake
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Donna Jennings from Wormit recently returned from Antakya in Turkey where a 7.8 magnitude earthquake caused devastation in February. The death toll in the area is speculated to be higher than the official figure of 50,000.
Having previously worked on projects in Iraq, Donna’s contact there first alerted the charity to a need for support due to a lack of help for children affected by the earthquake. With her For the Love Of a Child (FLOC) charity, she visited the country for a week and worked with the distribution teams. The charity received money from people around Fife to provide toys and hygiene packs for children who had in some cases lost everything.
Donna has also worked in Lebanon and Afghanistan, where the cause of the trauma has often man-made, but she said the fact that Antakya has been decimated by a natural disaster, coupled with local issues, meant it felt different.
She explained: “It was very hard, very difficult – especially the first time we drove through Antakya. It was quite overwhelming. It is different because it’s a natural disaster so I wonder what people do with their anger and their loss. Usually when you go through loss you want to find something to blame. I think there will be anger that the buildings weren’t built properly and the corruption in government.
“I think the difference is the sheer scale of it. If you go to the kind of places that I’ve been, you see pockets where the war is, but there are safer places. With this it was whole swathes of areas just completely devastated - and there’s the fact it could happen again. That's the biggest thing”.
Donna founded the FLOC charity in 2010 following the death of her five year old son and said it was an opportunity to remember her him.
She said: “I always want to remember him and he was the little seed. His life was the seed that’s grown and is bearing fruit – so his life mattered and every time I help kids, it helps me.
The charity uses dramatherapy to help children and their families deal with trauma, loss and their mental wellbeing. The charity also runs domestic projects, including working with Scottish schools and with refugees.
She said: “What makes our charity different is we use creative arts therapies and drama therapy, which uses all the art forms. It’s great for children, we just get the parachute out and we play lots of games. Games really help the children to overcome their fear and anxiety”.
Next up, the group hopes to fund a van it can use to deliver mobile drama therapy to children in the internally displaced people camps around Antakya. The aim is to allow the youngstres to process their trauma in a safe way so they can heal. You can find out more about how you can contribute here: https://www.fortheloveofachild.org.uk/list-style/