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A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Hare Krishna Devotees Provide Aid to Survivors in Turkey
By Gandharvika prema Dasi, ISKCON Hungary   |  Feb 12, 2023
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Turkish and Hungarian devotees meet in Istanbul

Devotees from Turkey and Hungary met in Istanbul so that they jointly distribute cooked food for the survivors in the most heavily damaged earthquake-stricken area in Turkey.

With permission from the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), the devotees will arrive to Antakya, Hatay province on Sunday, where they will prepare cooked food in a truck converted into a mobile kitchen and they will distribute it locally. The simple, nourishing food will help feed the survivors as well as those participating in the rescue operations. Distribution will take place at a central location designated by the military authorities.

The first response to any natural disaster is to search for survivors and treat the wounded. In the meantime, the emergency infrastructure has to be set up. Looking after the survivors poses a challenge because in the disaster-stricken area, the infrastructure is destroyed, roads are hardly usable and those buildings that are still standing may collapse at any moment. In such a situation, the arrival of professionally equipped, experienced charity teams can be of immense help. They can provide stop gaps by supplying mentally and physically fresh human force and giving tangible help to surviving people. Even though the place is unsafe, helping locally is important because the survivors cannot, or will not, leave the area as they are looking for their missing family members who may be waiting to be rescued under the rubble.

Street view after the earthquake.

The food distribution mission takes off with the help of the Turkish subsidiary and the support of the international transport and logistics company, DSV, which provides vehicles, food ingredients, utensils, drivers, and interpreters as well as coordinators és volunteers to help the mission. Donations are arriving from such international companies that had helped earlier the aid mission the Hare Krishna Food for Life had provided for Ukraine.

DSV storehouse equipment prepared.

Before heading to South Turkey, Turkish devotees led by Nrsimha Krishna Das had tirelessly worked on making lists of the equipment and procuring the materials needed for the special disaster relief, where there is no kitchen, no stuff, and no infrastructure available, and the weather is really harsh, with the temperature well below zero at night. Coordinators like Sattvika Das help his work in the background to get all the permissions, find the right contacts, and do all the necessary work backstage. The cooperation between the two yatras (Turkish and Hungarian) is owed to Radha Krishna Das, who is the GBC secretary of both countries, thus making it easier and smoother for both parties to work hand in hand. The Food for Life mission in Turkey is supported by a number of generous donors, namely the Lotus Trust from the UK, Sewa Canada, and Sewa USA. We owe our gratitude to them for their donations.”

Devotees from ISKCON Hungary and ISKCON Turkey.

The Hungarian team is led by Bhakta-vatsala Das, the experienced chairman of the food distribution foundation. Taking into account the circumstances, they will set up facilities to provide hundreds, or even thousands of portions of hot food daily. This mission will not affect the food distribution programme in Hungary – that will be carried on seamlessly by those staff members who are staying behind in Hungary.

Setting up the temporary FFL kitchen.

This is not the first time when Hungarian food aid distributors participate in feeding disaster-stricken people. The Hungarian Food for Life was there in Sri Lanka after the tsunami, in Haiti after the earthquake, in Bosnia after the landslide, and also in Ukraine whereas in Hungary they assisted people at flood-stricken areas, the victims of the mudslide, and were assisting waves of refugees. Even the COVID-19 pandemic could not stop their mission. Together with the Turkish yatra, they will make their best to decrease the misery of many poor people in Turkey.

The camp for the victims.

Hare Krishna devotees express their heartfelt sympathies to the Turkish people, they offer their prayers for the casualties and for the rapid restoration of the survivors’ living conditions which they are helping with the food distribution. Such disaster situations are painful reminders of the transient nature of human life, therefore the devotees hope that they remind warring parties in various conflicts to stop hostilities the sooner the better.

You can give a donation to support the food relief programme here:
Food for Life Hungary – https://karitativ.hu/en/main/ *mention “Turkey” in the comment
Food for Life Turkey – https://www.yasamicinyemek.org/en

 

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