This past March, GAiN’s DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team) visited Turkey to help provide housing, including tents and tiny houses, to those who had lost their homes in the devastating earthquake that occurred in early February. One of the team members named Mitch shared about an encounter she had with a family whose home was completely destroyed:
Tulay is 32 years old and a mother of three gregarious boys. We met the family and a lot of other people because we were about to set up a tent. When we arrived, the boys (aged 9, 10 and 11) were in the middle of an intense football match with questionable rules. Since we had to wait for our work materials to arrive, we joined them.
For a moment, the world seemed like a less devastating place as we were running around in the sun, giggling and laughing every time one of the little boys lost his shoe in the dirt.
“I want to team up with you,” one of them said to me through a translator app and immediately his little cousin jumped in and said he wanted to be part of the team too. So we continued kicking a flat ball into a non-existent goal, losing shoes and running into each other.
When we eventually sat down and shared some freshly baked bread, the family and I started talking. “I was all alone with the kids on the night of the earthquake,” Tulay shared. “Our house got destroyed completely and now we are staying in this tent together with our neighbors.”
When I asked one of the boys where he went to school, he told me that the building was destroyed so there is no school for him to attend right now. I asked him if he liked going to school and he simply stated: “Medium.”
This somehow made me laugh because he was exactly like a 10-year-old boy was supposed to be: playing football and not liking school too much. At the same time, it made me sad to see how drastically the lives of these little boys have changed, and the fact that there was nothing I could do about it.
We sat there for a while, chatting through a translator app and sharing bread with their 7-year-old cousin who would only take a bite if I had one first. My poor Turkish made them laugh. In this small moment of peace and contentment, I hoped they could forget what they had been through — even if it was only for a second.