Deaf community mourns losses in Türkiye

By February 20, 2023

Türkiye (MNN) — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently urged the global community to fund a $1 billion appeal covering three months of emergency relief in Türkiye. The UN estimates that the February 6 earthquakes affected at least nine million people in Türkiye and Syria.

The survival window is closing fast, but rescuers found four people alive in Türkiye as crews began clearing debris. The saves came more than ten days after Türkiye’s deadliest earthquakes in modern history.

DOOR International’s Rob Myers says rescue crews may overlook Deaf survivors because “a lot of the efforts rescue people use involve trying to make sound or listen for sounds that people are making under the rubble. None of that is accessible to people that don’t have access to sound.”

While some Deaf people can read lips, many cannot. Often, when rescuers find a Deaf survivor, “they can’t communicate with those Deaf people,” Myers says.

“They can’t figure out where [the Deaf survivors are] hurt, or give any assurances to the Deaf people that they (rescuers) are there to help.”

A Child of a Deaf Adult (CODA) in Türkiye recently posted this video on Instagram, “strongly encouraging rescue workers to learn even a few very basic signs, because they’re encountering Deaf people in the rubble” and cannot communicate with them.

(Photos courtesy of DOOR International)

DOOR’s friends in the region say no Deaf believers were killed in the earthquakes, but several people lost their lives in the wider Deaf community:

  • Deaf man Mehmet Dervis (pictured top right)
  • Deaf athlete Mehmet Akan (pictured top left)
  • Deaf woman Zeynep Tasci (pictured middle right)
  • Deaf man Abdulkadir Erol, his wife Leyla Erol, and one-year-old daughter (pictured bottom and middle left)

Pray that the Lord will give Deaf aid workers supernatural knowledge to find people in need. “These are Deaf believers who want to reach out to other Deaf people who may be hurting or struggling,” Myers says.

Secondly, “pray that God would raise up Deaf believers as workers of the Gospel. This is one of those times where people tend to be most open to the love of God and the help of a brother or sister.”



Header image depicts a damaged building in Antakya, Hatay Province, Turkiye. (Wikimedia Commons)

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