SAN DIEGO — The House of Turkey in Balboa Park held an event Saturday for the Turkish-American community to come together, support one another and raise relief funds for their home country, as they deal with an increasing death toll reaching more than 28,000.
“This is a long healing process, we are just starting today, we need everybody’s help, their thoughts, their prayers,” said Ali Kiran, President, of the House of Turkey in Balboa Park.
“This week was a soul-crushing week,” said Ilkay Altintas, a Turkish-American who lives in San Diego and attended the event Saturday. “The Turkish community here suffered losses of family members and close friends and extended family and friends and it’s good to see everyone came together and mourn together.”
The tight-knit community came together to mourn and raise money to support their families and friends from more than 7,000 miles away.
Organizers of Saturday’s event said the earthquake impacted about a 250-mile-long region, which is about the same distance from the U.S.-Mexico Border to Santa Barbara.
Everyone at Saturday’s event knew someone impacted.
Inanc Ortac lives in San Diego but used to live in Turkey, said he survived a large earthquake in 1999 when his house collapsed.
Ortac said his wife was also saved from the rubble and he said seeing another devastation brought back memories.
“It traumatizes many people and then you carry that trauma with you your entire life,” Ortac said.
“The Turkish community is strong we are a small but strong community,” Altintas said.
“We’re going to get Turkey back on its feet soon,” Duru Kincal said.
Anyone wishing to donate to an earthquake relief fund can visit the House of Turkey’s website.
The House of Turkey in Balboa Park has a goal to raise $200,000 to send to Turkey for relief efforts.