YES Programs



Students Unite for Earthquake Relief

Tyr Earthquake Relief Campaign

On February 6, Türkiye was struck by a series of catastrophic earthquakes, the worst one a magnitude of 7.8. Though it lasted only minutes, 11 cities were damaged, approximately 60,000 people have lost their lives, over 120,000 people have been injured, and millions were left homeless. The winter was especially harsh in the southern part of Türkiye, where the earthquake happened.

As YES 2022-2023 exchange students, we watched the news all night long from the United States. We were far away from our homeland and the night was long for all of us. Reading the numbers of casualties, destroyed buildings and cities, tore us apart. Later, some of us learned that we lost our beloved ones, too. With the pain in our hearts, we decided that we needed to do something.

We started brainstorming for ideas among our cohort of 43 students living all across the United States. There were several people who were in the same state, but we knew it wouldn’t be possible to do anything that involved meeting up in-person. But, we thought, we could unite ourselves somehow. So we decided to connect with a local Turkish organization that we knew.

The next day we reached out to IN-Ataturk, a non-profit organization founded by the Turkish- American community in Indiana which facilitates connectivity, interaction and collaboration among Turkish Americans residing in Indiana. With their help, we started to coordinate our campaign.

Tyr Earthquake Relief Campaign Poster

We could either start a fundraiser on GoFundMe, or collect actual physical donations of goods such as clothing, etc. IN-Ataturk connected us with the Turkish Consul General in Chicago, Engin Türesin. He told us that physical donations were coming in every day to the Consulate, and we didn’t have to necessarily start a physical donation drive. Considering that we were all living in different states, we eventually decided to start our GoFundMe donation website.

We held weekly planning meetings on Zoom, and each of us started to spread the word about our fundraiser in our local host communities. We talked to our school principals and, according to our schools’ policies, we hung our campaign flyers all around our schools and anywhere that we could in our host communities. We advertised the campaign and donation drive at sporting events, school functions and other local events. Some of us even gave interviews to local television stations and newspapers.

We, as Turkish YES students hosted all around the United States, collected $10,200 in 2 months. We’re so grateful to every single American who donated to our campaign or shared the campaign with others. With this catastrophe we all saw how united two different countries can become. Thank you for donating to our campaign. We appreciate your help to our country.

We are directing this donation towards AHBAP, a highly effective Turkish non-governmental organization with extensive experience in disaster relief efforts. The funds are going to be used to provide relief and support to victims of earthquakes, including healthcare and education for those who have lost their homes and families. With this fund, we aim to help rebuild the lives of those affected by the earthquake and ensure that they have the resources that they will need to recover.

YES 2022-2023 students, Türkiye: Firat Akil, Deren Albayrak, Zeynep Altunbas, Ilkay Apaydin, Cem Arica, Ilcim Arslan, Deniz Aslan, Ecem Aslan, Dilay Atalan, Deniz Aygun, Sukru Bagdatli, Denys Bastan, Nehir Biyikli, Sude Bozkaya, Deniz Celik, Kivanc Celik, Ismet Ceylan, Livanur Ceylan, Hilde Demir, Ada Dinmez, Asude Dogan, Ismail Ergene Robin Gunes, Utku Hatipoglu, Muhammed Inal, Ece Kale, Sude Kanan, Ipek Kara, Yaren Karabayir, Ege Konca, Eylul Korkmaz, Maruf Kurt, Hatime Macit, Sila Ozbayrak, Ozge Ozdemir, Eren Ozgun, Azra Ozturk, Kagan Tenekeci, Duru Turmen, Rumeysa Ulusoy, Aliye Uzunlar, Baris Yildiz