Turkish community in OKC gathers to raise funds to earthquake victims


Tables of Turkish sweets and coffee await donors at the Raindrop Turkish House Oklahoma City fundraiser. (Gaylord News photo/Kayden Anderson)

WASHINGTON — As seismic instability continues in Turkey after more than one earthquake struck parts of the country and Syria over the past three weeks, members of the Turkish community in Oklahoma united this past weekend to raise funds for the earthquake victims and pray for those who were lost.

Raindrop Turkish House Oklahoma, a Turkish non-profit organization in Oklahoma City, hosted a fundraiser Saturday in an attempt to bring some relief to the earthquake victims and gather donations as Turkey begins to rebuild itself from the tragedy.

The organization offered attendees tickets to buy authentic Turkish food, snacks and crafts so the money collected can go towards aid for the 1.5 million left homeless by the earthquakes.

In addition to the fundraising, attendees were invited to a prayer room to pray for the victims and loved ones back home.

“A lot of people there need help – they need food, they need shelter, they need (the) basics,” said Muhammad Sezer, Executive Director of OKC’s Raindrop Turkish House.

“We cannot imagine, in the middle of winter, where it’s snowing, (with) freezing temperatures, (how) they are sleeping in their cars. They sometimes sleep in public places like mosques, hospitals and schools.”

Sezer said Raindrop Turkish House Oklahoma is partnering with Embrace Relief – a non-profit organization in the state of New Jersey which has launched an aid campaign right after the first earthquake – to send all the donations to the affected areas in Turkey.

Raindrop also invited members of the community, religious leaders and several organizations to an interfaith vigil last Tuesday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in OKC to offer prayers and compassion for the victims of the earthquakes.

As of Feb. 25, the number of people killed by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has surpassed 50,000, according to official sources from both countries.

Cevher Sancaktutar was volunteering at the fundraising. He said he has friends and high school teachers that were in one of the cities struck by the earthquake.

“Right now they are good, but I know some of them lost some family. Their houses are just destroyed,” Sancaktutar said.

“I think it just helps people know this is happening somewhere thousands of miles away from where we are and even a dollar, a small prayer, makes a difference for the people there because the exchange rate is crazy, it’s 18 times.”

Turkish sweets await donors at the Raindrop Turkish House Oklahoma City fundraiser. (Gaylord News photo/Kayden Anderson)

Bea Glover, another volunteer at the fundraising who was selling pastries to help raise funds and raise awareness to the tragedy, said although she doesn’t have any personal ties to the earthquakes, she wants to take part in the rebuilding of the country.

“I knew someone in the Moore tornado several years ago, so I know how hard the reconstruction process is and (also) life changing,” Glover said. “I know that if I’m able to help someone else that is in that situation then that’s what I’m going to try and try to do.”

Sezer said raising awareness about the tragedy is important and that the Turkish community in Oklahoma City has received a lot of support from the community, other organizations, elected officials and the media.

“We don’t have a goal (of how much) to raise today, but we hope it’s whatever we can raise and it will help because small or big, it doesn’t matter,” Sezer said. “I think it will make a huge difference in the lives of the people impacted by the earthquake.”


Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.  For more stories by Gaylord News go to GaylordNews.net.