The Assistance that Changed Life After the Earthquake in Türkiye: Hatice’s Story - GOAL Global Skip to content

The Assistance that Changed Life After the Earthquake in Türkiye: Hatice’s Story


February 29, 2024 • 3 min read

Fleeing war-torn Syria with her family, Hatice* found refuge in Türkiye, only to face the devastation of a powerful earthquake years later. Despite losing their home, Hatice's determination to provide for her family never wavers. Thanks to the support from GOAL's LINK project, funded by the European Union, she found renewed hope and stability.

Over 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently seek safety in Türkiye; the scale of the displacement highlights the worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria, rooted in 13 years of conflict and further compounded by the devastating earthquakes that struck Northwest Syria and Türkiye in February 2023. Türkiye, already grappling with its own challenges in the aftermath of the earthquakes, now hosts the highest number of refugees globally.

“We did not feel safe at all.”

Among the millions forced to flee their homes in Syria is Hatice, a mother expecting her second child and the wife of Farhid*. Their story is symbolic of the struggles faced by Syrians enduring years of hardship amidst the relentless bombardment of their country’s civil war.

Describing her families experience living in Syria, Hatice shared,

“We lived during the war in appalling and very frightening conditions. There was a severe bombing, and my friends and relatives died in front of me. We were surrounded by the bombing areas for years without water or electricity. We did not feel safe at all. Instead, we suffered greatly from hunger, poverty, and fear.”

“My house was destroyed in the earthquake.”

Despite this unimaginable suffering, with her family alongside her, Hatice clung to hope,

“I felt that there were supportive people beside me, and I felt that there was hope in life.”

They fled the ceaseless anguish of war and sought refuge in Türkiye with great hopes for a better future. Years later, Hatice and her family found themselves reliving their worst nightmares once again when, in the early hours of February 6, a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake shocked southeast Türkiye near the Syrian border, leaving millions in mourning.

Assuming their safety in Türkiye, Hatice was shocked when the earthquake struck, she explained,

“We came to Türkiye four years ago. Our financial circumstances were difficult, but we felt very safe. However, my house and furniture were destroyed when the earthquake occurred. I had to work in hard conditions of agriculture during my eighth month of pregnancy to provide food and milk for my daughter.”

Humanitarian support from GOAL

Hatice, along with her unborn child, 3-year-old daughter, and husband Farhid, who suffers from heart disease, survived the earthquake, albeit losing their family home. Now residing in a tent in a rural area of Gaziantep, they endured a period of homelessness following the earthquake before securing temporary shelter with the support of the authorities. Hatice now occasionally works as an agricultural labourer to make ends meet. Faced with difficulty in securing basic needs such as food, clothing, and hygiene items, Hatice desperately reached out to GOAL for support.

Thanks to the LINK project funded by the European Union, which aims to protect seasonal agricultural workers and nomadic and semi-nomadic communities in Türkiye, Hatice and her family were provided with market, clothing and dignity card support. Hatice describes the impact of this support:

“When I was given a market card, I had no food or milk for my one-year-old daughter. I had no money, and no one would accept to give me money as a debt to buy a carton of milk for my hungry child. I was pregnant, and I did not have a piece of bread. When I received the card from GOAL, I felt that life had returned to me, to my daughter, and my unborn child.”

GOAL, in coordination with local authorities, continues to support seasonal agricultural workers and nomadic/semi-nomadic communities such as Dom, Abdal, Rom, Roman, etc., living in Southeast Türkiye.

Additional and increased donations and funding are needed to sustain protection interventions reaching marginalised communities and living in the most isolated rural areas.




Story and Photos by Specialized Social Worker Semih Öztürk, Senior Safeguarding and Protection Monitoring Officer in GOAL Türkiye

* For the protection of individuals in the story, names have been changed