A group of women from Birmingham have visited Türkiye this week to help child refugees following the devastating earthquake in the region earlier this year.

The delegation fundraised thousands of pounds in Birmingham before taking the donations directly to displaced families living in refugee camps in the Turkish south-central city of Gaziantep, where they distributed money and toys to those in need.

As part of Eid celebrations, the team of 10 women also provided care packages for earthquake victims residing across temporary accommodation in Adiyaman and Osmaniye; most of whom are living in minimalist tents provided by the Turkish government and international aid organisations.

Aisha Nazir gives out toys to a young girl at a refugee camp in Osmaniya, TürkiyeAdam Yosef
Aisha Nazir gives out toys to a young girl at a refugee camp in Gaziantep, Türkiye

The care packages included essential sanitary items for women and babies, while families also received zakat (Islamic alms) donations made by British Muslims ahead of Eid celebrations; along with the distribution of Qurbani, meat provided to the needy during Eid al-Adha.

The all-female crew was deployed to the earthquake stricken regions of Türkiye (Turkey) by Birmingham charity ISRA UK to assist the refugees residing in camps, many of whom have lost family, loves ones and their homes.

The women were responding to the aftermath of recent earthquakes which shook the region in February 2023; killing at least 59,259 people in southern and central Turkey and northern and western Syria.

“We’re here in Gaziantep purely because of the earthquake that occurred here earlier this year in February,” said ISRA UK’s volunteer deployment co-ordinator Saraya Hussain.

Charity volunteer Saraya Hussain (third from right) co-ordinated the women's humanitarian deployment to Türkiye Adam Yosef
Charity volunteer Saraya Hussain (third from right) co-ordinated the women’s humanitarian deployment to Türkiye

“We responded immediately by sending emergency aid over to Turkey which is quite close to the Syrian border where the earthquake happened. At the time, we sent vital items like blankets, warm clothing as it was very cold at the time, food and shelter.

“Currently, Turkey has one of the largest refugee populations, the vast majority of those being from Syria, so the need is huge after the earthquake. Now, we’re here on the ground to further respond to that need by distributing care packages, women’s hygiene kits, supporting the infrastructure here for hot food and shelter.

“We’re an all-women’s deployment group because when we initially put a call out for emergency aid, it was mainly women who responded; so we’re also focusing on other needs that aren’t currently being met in a gender-sensitive way.”

Salima Abdou (right) from Birmingham greets young children in the refugee campAdam Yosef
Salima Abdou (right) from Birmingham greets young children in the Turkish refugee camp

Assisting victims of the deadliest earthquake worldwide since the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the volunteer squad joined forces with the Turkish Red Crescent and Hayat Yolu in order to deliver aid and bring some festive cheer to families rebuilding their lives.

Many of those affected by the natural disaster have been Syrians living in Türkiye. More than 1.7 million Syrian refugees live in the 10 southern Turkish provinces devastated by the recent earthquakes.

As part of the humanitarian visit, which coincided with Refugee Week, the volunteers organised an Eid party for younger residents in the camp, handed out gifts and sweets, and hired a clown and DJ to entertain children.

Hundreds of children even came together for an impromptu song and dance to the YouTube musical hit ‘Baby Shark’.

Kheira Mohammed from Birmingham hands out toys to celebrate Eid in the refugee campAdam Yosef
Kheira Mohammed from Birmingham hands out toys to celebrate Eid in the refugee camp

ISRA UK is an international charity established in 1984, founded and based in Birmingham. The organisation has been working to assist the vulnerable and needy all over the word for nearly 40 years, including in Türkiye, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Palestine and Uganda.

Staff and volunteers at the Islamic charity, based in Ladypool Road in Birmingham, are continuing their ongoing efforts to bring aid relief to earthquake victims in Türkiye and Syria. To donate, please visit: www.israuk.org.

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