Response Team Foundation volunteers were some of the first on ground to help in the emergency relief efforts following the cataclysmic earthquake in Turkey that claimed over 50,000 lives, as well as thousands of homes in February of 2023.
Within the very first hours of landing, they began assisting emergency shelters for survivors, giving psychosocial first aid for both adults and children, many of which had been orphaned, as well as assessing the areas that had been the most hit in order to direct aid there.
After registering with the Turkish government in charge of disaster relief, and through the introduction of Turkey’s Minister of health, the Response Team Foundation team were given the opportunity to offer assistance in trauma counseling to one of the largest hospitals in the disaster zone and soon after, to team up with a local charity to head directly to the epicenter to help build and run 1 of 12 tent cities in Hatay.
Around 630 temporary structures were assembled to house 6500 displaced survivors. Day to day management included setting up hygiene complexes, warehouse management of supplies, food and aid distribution and running psychosocial first aid counseling tents.
While establishing the camp, one of the priorities was the need to create a safe space for mothers and children that would provide both security and various forms of therapy. These tents were decorated and supplied in collaboration with local celebrities who also donated their time to bring the children much needed art, music, dance, movement and play. This proved to be an invaluable medium for coping and overcoming the shock and trauma so many young ones had been suffering from since the disaster.
Response Team Foundation also gave much needed daily trauma counseling sessions for aid workers and medical personnel they were working alongside, many of which were locals and had experienced great loss.
During the weeks of being on ground, several field trips were made to the more remote villages that had received little to no help due to difficult access, making it possible to gather further data, deliver aid, and bring encouragement to the many individuals that went through this unequaled disaster.