Restoring dignity and childhood wonder in Türkiye

  • Emily Esworthy
  • Aug 23, 2023

Asya Halal may not know your name or what church you belong to. But thanks to you, the toddler knows what it’s like to have a full belly, clean water and a safe place to sleep.

Childhood, interrupted

Little Asya was just over one year old when the February earthquake rocked Türkiye. In an instant, her home was destroyed. Some of her family members disappeared. Her normally calm parents were frightened.

For months afterward, Asya — along with her parents and 5-year-old brother İsa — lived in a sweltering tent and drank water that made them sick. They barely slept. When LWR staff visited their tent this summer, Asya’s parents were exhausted and traumatized by the hardships they’ve endured since the quake.

Her father Erkan, a shoe salesman, described conflicting emotions. "We lost so many friends and relatives. On the one hand, we are very sad. On the other hand, I am happy that my family and my children are with me."

When asked what their daily life was like, Asya's mother Seyda lamented, "We have no place to cook, no place to wash dishes … No place to eat, no clothes, no place to sleep. When it rains, water gets in … We are devastated."

A family standing in front of a tent/shelter.

Seyda kept their tent tidy and spotless, but she said that personal hygiene was nearly impossible. "I haven’t taken a shower for about a month," she admitted. Motioning sadly toward her children, she added, "And look at the dirt on their feet."

As for Asya and İsa, the earthquake shook their childhood off its foundations.

"The children cry all the time," Seyda said. "It's so hard."

A mother holding her daughter outside of a tent.
Seyda comforting her daughter Asya outside their tent in Kirikhan, Türkiye. 


You go the distance

The world has all but forgotten the children and families in Türkiye. Many emergency response programs have ended, and the news coverage has moved on.

But not you. Our incredible donors like you never fail to extend your compassion and Christ's love when disaster strikes. You go farther, and then stay longer, to help families get back on their feet.

Immediately after the earthquake, you delivered necessities including tents, tarps, winter clothing and solar lights. You also provided ready-to-eat food and hot meals, sleeping bags and mats, and more. For families like the Halals who lost everything, your kindness carried them through extremely difficult times — those hardest days when all the children could do was cry.

But because of your generosity, today little Asya has a reason to smile. Her family is finally moving out of a tent and into a container home your caring hospitality provided.

The Halal family outside their new container home.
The Halal family outside their new container home.


Home sweet home


The Halals' new home will be part of a 400-container community on the outskirts of their home city of Kirikhan, which was largely reduced to rubble. Each furnished container will have a separate living room and bedroom, a full bath and a small kitchen. They also have clean running water, electricity and air conditioning.  

Generous Lutherans like you funded 35 of these container homes — each of which cost $5,300 — as well as 500 food packs and 500 hygiene packs to help families settle in. 

Asya especially loves her family's shiny new faucet — and the stream of clean water it produces. The first time the Halals visited their new home, her face lit up whenever her father turned the water on and off. Her tears had turned to smiles. 

A father and daughter standing in their new bathroom.

Seyda says she is relieved that her children will be able to sleep comfortably, and that her family can shower again. There's nothing like being clean to feel a renewed sense of dignity and hope.  

While taking in the small but comfortable space his family now calls home, Erkan says, "Thank you thousands of times for supporting us. God bless you all … Thank you so much for coming this far."

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Emily Esworthy, Aug 23, 2023 email