Greenville Co. Turkish houses prepare for Food Festival for Earthquake Relief
On Feb. 26, Greenville County’s Turkish communities will host a Food Festival for Earthquake Relief, a fundraiser happening at First Baptist Church of Travelers Rest from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - This week the U.S. announced it would provide an additional $100 million in relief to earthquake-stricken Turkey and Syria. But for the Turkish community in our area – the grim images of leveled cities are a reminder that more money and aid is likely needed.
Fikret Burgazli moved to America in 2017 for a better life, but he says he recalls a nation of hard-working, generous people who had pride for their country, their food, and other contributions to modern civilization.
“It was like a heaven, really it was great to be in Turkey,” Burgazli said. “Sometimes I’m watching, the movies on the television and when I see places like Instanbul and the bridges and I feel emotional. So, it’s really hard.”
But he says even harder are the scenes steadily coming out of southern Turkey.
“The pain will make you sick,” he said.
Burgazli can’t stomach the images anymore and neither can his friend Yuksel Sonmez.
“No way,” Sonmez said. “It can affect you psychologically and physically.”
Sonmez has a sister whose home is in the disaster zone.
“Her home, and the other homes in the city need to completely be rebuilt,” he said.
But Sonmez also says the earthquake exposed another problem, a construction boom over the last few decades that involved shoddy and inferior construction.
“We have a saying, ‘earthquakes aren’t killing people, illegal buildings are killing people,’” he said.
And the road ahead is still unclear.
“It gives you some sense of the scale of this,” said Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State during a Feb. 19 visit to Turkey. “We’ve had tens of thousands of deaths, and tens of millions of people affected by this earthquake. And of course we still don’t know the full extent of it.”
The U.S. government has pledged $185 million total thus far in relief and aid. Secretary Blinken projects a long-term effort for the roughly 20 million people. Locally though, another pledge is growing amongst South Carolina’s Turkish communities.
“We can do something here,” Burgazli said.
“If you help someone right now, tomorrow you may need help and somebody else will come and help you,” Sonmez added.
On Feb. 26, Greenville County’s Turkish communities will host a Turkish Food Festival for Earthquake Relief, a fundraiser happening at First Baptist Church of Travelers Rest from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
“Right now, every Turkish house in Greenville County is preparing something,” Burgazli said.
“Everyone is cooking at home from their own budget,” Sonmez added.
Expect traditional Turkish dishes, and all proceeds will benefit the people thousands of miles away in need. But this community calls it the first of possibly many.
“They don’t have any money, they don’t have food, they don’t have savings – maybe (some) in the bank, if they have that,” Burgazli said. “(Regardless), it will take some time to rebuild these things – building a house, buying a vehicle, getting a job, it will take some time. So, these people will need constant help. Continuous help from us.”
Help that’s coming from more directions.
“The world is too big,” Sonmez said.
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