Gaziantep, Turkey – More than a week has passed since catastrophic earthquakes killed more than 40,000 people in Turkey and Syria, and that number is expected to rise over the next few weeks.
The hopes of finding survivors under the rubble are slowly fading, but rescuers continue to search.
With temperatures dropping dramatically, many displaced people are living in tents in open-air areas. Volunteers are stepping in to provide relief, even those who are victims themselves.
“We just want to offer any type of support amid this desperation,” said Abdul Kareem, who is volunteering to build tents with Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).
“When you’re surrounded by death and trauma, the only thing you can do is to offer anything you can, including your skills and motivation to do something.”
Although the centre of Gaziantep may not have seen the same degree of devastation as provinces like Hatay or Kahramanmaras, near the epicentre of the earthquake, entire neighbourhoods in the city – such as Ibrahimli – have been partially destroyed.
“I wanted to leave Turkey and emigrate to Europe,” said Levant, a member of the Arama ve Kurtarma [Search and Rescue] team.“But now I want to stay and volunteer for the coming months. After the rescue operations will end, I want to keep volunteering in other fields to support my people.”