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Helping Children in Turkey to Start Learning Again

The BNI Foundation is Helping Children in Turkey to Start Learning Again

On 6 February, 2023 at 04:17 local time, southern and central Turkey and northern Syria were hit by the strongest earthquake in modern times. As of 10 March, 55,000 people are reported to have died, 2.4 million have been displaced, up to 24 million affected and over 200,000 buildings have been destroyed in an area the size of Germany.

Whenever such horrendous natural disasters occur, BNI members around the world, and understandably in particular those from the areas worst affected, turn to us and ask “what is the BNI Foundation doing to help?” Normally our answer is simple:

• The BNI Foundation is focused on Children & Education. • We are not a disaster relief organization, not because we don’t want to help, but simply because we don’t have the resources to make an impact when faced with damage and suffering of such magnitude. • At these times, well-known international aid organizations such as ICRC (The Red Cross) and UNICEF do an excellent job and have the financial and logistical resources to make a difference in the dramatic first days and weeks. Yes, part of their donation income is used to cover administrative costs, but donations to them really do make their work possible. • If there is a Rotary, Lions, or other service club near to you, reach out to them and ask what they are doing. They have values which are well-aligned with those of the BNI Foundation and often work directly with other clubs in the affected areas to provide prompt and direct support.

After the initial intense media coverage has died down and the story is no longer in the headline news, the immediate flow of donations subsides. As the rebuilding process begins while much of the world turns its attention to other matters, the time comes when the BNI Foundation can have an impact on children and their education in schools which have been damaged or destroyed.

BUT for Turkey we are fortunate to already have our own BNI option! – Yardım – Herkesin bir gün yardıma ihtiyacı olabilir (bnisupportforturkiye.com).

BNI Turkey National Director Ayşe Aslan has launched an appeal to provide 100 families in the worst affected areas with a container to live in until they can return to permanent accommodation. In addition to the many homes lost, families are understandably afraid of returning to damaged properties for fear of further aftershocks. Being housed in a container will provide them with safe shelter as they attempt to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. It will also enable children to feel more secure and slowly return to their school studies, something which is at the heart of everything that the BNI Foundation stands for.

Containers cost approx. TL45,000 or USD 2,500 each and the BNI Foundation in both Germany & Austria, where many of our Members have relatives in Turkey severely impacted by the earthquake, have donated to the BNI Support for Turkey appeal to purchase one container in the name of each country. BNI HQ has also donated $5,000 to accommodate two more families and we invite BNI Teams and regions around the world to do the same. Account details for international bank transfers are available via the link above, but the credit card option seems only to be available within Turkey. If an international transfer is not possible, please donate via the “Donate Now” button on www.bnifoundation.org, adding “Support for Turkey” and your name or that of your Chapter or Region in the text field. We will ensure that your donation is forwarded to Turkey promptly.

This is a unique way for the many BNI Members and Chapters around the world who would like to help directly if only they know how to make a difference in the lives of children in Turkey whose life changed so dramatically only a few weeks ago.

Thank you for whatever support you feel able to give!

Kevin Barber, March 17, 2023

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