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Türkiye Diyanet Foundation is helping earthquake victims with its 30,000 staff

27 February 2023 March 1st, 2023

Following the earthquakes centered in Kahramanmaraş, Türkiye, Türkiye Diyanet Foundation (TDV) continues its work in the region with nearly 30,000 personnel, meeting the material and spiritual needs of the disaster victims.

İhsan Açık, the second chairman of the TDV Board of Trustees, who coordinated the teams in Hatay, said that with the initiative carried by the Presidency of Religious Affairs and Türkiye Diyanet Foundation, they were in the field in a short time with Imams, muadhin, preachers, muftis, and volunteers.

Stating that the muftis of all the other provinces first came to the disaster area, Açık said that a 120-person search and rescue team was deployed to the regions that felt the earthquake the most, such as Kahramanmaraş, Hatay, Adıyaman, and Malatya.

Açık, who explained that they transported aid to the provinces of the region with trailers for needs such as water, food, and clothing and that they created and activated warehouses in the disaster zone, continued as follows:

“As Türkiye Diyanet Foundation, we have established large logistics centers in 7 regions. Nearly 30 thousand imams and Muadhin have served here so far. Almost half of our muftis in the districts of Türkiye have come here, and changes are still being made regularly. The materials unloaded from these trailers are sorted here, and small vehicles are used to deliver them to the villages.”

AFAD sets up Masjids for us in the tent cities

İhsan Açık stated that the Imams in the villages and rural neighborhoods affected by the earthquakes contacted them and informed them of their needs and that they shipped the aid accordingly. Stating that Imams and muadhins from other provinces come to the coordination center, Açık said, “Everyone is assigned different tasks. Some of them said, ‘Teacher, you need to go to the cemetery urgently. There you have to deal with the funeral burial. You have to shroud him, lead the funeral prayer and then bury him. This is also a very important task. Many of our officials may not have washed and buried this many funerals, prayed for this many funerals in their lives.” 

Reminding that the call to prayer could not be heard in many places in the early days due to the devastation of mosques and the breakdown of loudspeaker systems, Açık stated that the officials ensured this and that the call to prayer is now everywhere. 

Mentioning that they are also trying to meet the need for collective prayers, Açık said, “Now we are trying to provide this with tent masjids. Our AFAD arranges masjids for us in tent cities. There are both male and female masjids there.”

“15 thousand copies of the Holy Quran were sent to the region”

Açık said that people who were rescued from the rubble wanted to read the Holy Qur’an and pray, and they were approached about this matter.

Açık, who said that they are also working on this, said:

“When he is under the rubble, he wants to read the Holy Quran, but when he comes out, he has no Holy Quran or Dua book. Requests for Holy Qurans and Dua books started to come. 15 thousand Holy Qurans were sent to this region and are still being sent. Later on, when the tents began to be set up, the earthquake victims asked for coloring books or children’s books for their children. Thankfully, our Disaster And Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) provided us with some tents in the tent cities. We tried to convert some of those into Quran courses for children aged 4-6. Our aim here is for the children to be rehabilitated, to talk to their friends, and to share their pain with other siblings who have experienced the earthquake.” 

Emphasizing that they also helped earthquake victims who wanted to go to their relatives in other provinces, Açık said that they opened the doors of Diyanet Houses, academy centers, and mosques with guesthouses in those provinces for their accommodation.

Açık stated that; in addition to the officials affiliated with TDV and the Presidency of Religious Affairs, they have been providing services with approximately 20 thousand volunteers in the earthquake zone.