Message From Director
Dear Humanity First USA Community,
Many of us have followed the news coverage of the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria since early February. The need for help in the region is still significant. Humanity First will remain in the field for the coming months.
Humanity First USA quickly joined the global HF response to this disaster. We have sent volunteer Doctors4Humanity physicians, logistical coordinators, and people with experience running large-scale kitchens to Türkiye. HFUSA volunteers from 15 cities collected, sorted, and delivered 28,000 items of warm clothing and supplies for victims.
Globally, Humanity First has donated over 7,400 hours of volunteer time, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to this effort. Our relationships and collaboration with Turkish Consulates, the Turkish federal disaster management agency AFAD, the Turkish Red Crescent Society, the WHO, and companies like Airlink have opened doors and stretched our funds to help thousands of people.
A few highlights of HF relief efforts in Türkiye:
Food and Supplies: Over 85,000 meals since the earthquake.
- HF mobilized the day after the earthquake. We quickly began to procure supplies, set up medical camps, and serve warm meals. We have steadily expanded this effort.
- In tent camps, we have distributed snacks and toys like soccer balls to children and hygiene kits to families.
- Since March 4th, HF has partnered with the Turkish Red Crescent Society to operate a kitchen at the Do?a Park center in Belen, a camp housing 2,000 people. The HF team serves as many as 9,000 meals per day at the primary kitchen and multiple nearby tent camps and helps prepare meals for villages and rural areas.
- Team members have slept in a tent by the kitchen to welcome people to take extra food items if they need at any time of day or night.
- Two government leaders of Belen visited to inspect the kitchen. One told our team that we are the best organization that has been there so far.
Food Service Spotlight:
The HF team is attuned to the needs of the people living temporarily in tent camps and has resolved challenges with speed and resourcefulness. We secured meat for lunch on the first day of the kitchen and for many meals since. People told us they were grateful to have this addition to noodles and beans. When bread was not delivered by one vendor, the team bought new fresh bread in time for an early breakfast. When a heavy wind took down a kitchen tent in one of the camps, the HF team found a better space to serve food again the very next day. And when a child lost his shoes in the cold weather, one teammate went to the bazaar to buy him a new pair.
HFUSA is committing a significant portion of our funds raised, and is seeking additional corporate sponsors, to be the largest financial supporter of the kitchen in Belen for the next 6 months. The amount and flexibility of these funds allow the HF team to buy all the needed supplies and to respond to challenging conditions.
The HF Germany team cooking enough for thousands of meals per day and delivering to nearby tent camps.
Medical camps: Over 4,700 patients seen and 8,500 medications delivered.
- HF launched medical camps in Antakya and Osmaniye within the first days of the disaster. When feasible, we have added mobile clinics traveling to other areas of the Hatay Province.
- We treat 150-300 patients per day across the camps and clinics. Primary care and chronic disease management includes acute wounds, infections, and mental illness.
- U.S. physicians on the ground have included Dr. Kaleem Malik, a Chicago emergency medicine doctor. Dr. Malik is a longtime HFUSA volunteer who received the Illinois Red Cross 2020 Disaster Services Hero Award. Others included Dr. Selahattin Kurter of Milwaukee, Dr. Saqib Ali of Chicago, and Dr. Amin Bokhari, a US citizen living in Canada.
- The Health Minister of Türkiye, as well as both the President and Governor of Hatay personally visited our camps and expressed appreciation for our work.
- Critically, the HF teams is registered with the Health Ministry as a medical partner and with WHO as an Emergency Medical Team Coordination Cell (EMTCC). This means that we can continue to operate medical camps and bring international personnel and support to Türkiye.
UN’s ReliefWeb on March 3rd reported that one month after the first earthquake, “the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns of the urgent need of a sustainable short- and long-term response to the health and mental health and psychosocial needs to prevent a ‘second disaster’.”
HFUSA’s Dr. Selahattin Kurter was one of the first U.S. doctors to travel to Türkiye. He has family there, speaks Turkish, and is a psychiatrist with experience in trauma support. Dr. Kurter immediately helped people to maintain mental health treatments, including patients with schizophrenia, panic attacks, and other conditions who had lost their medications in the rubble.
Dr. Kurter and a partner volunteer speak with a family seeking care.
The joint international HF team is working very effectively on the ground with help from supporters and partners. We are grateful for the support and prayers from the entire Humanity First family.
Chairman and Executive Director, Humanity First USA