It is a weird feeling to watch your country crumble. It is a weird feeling to witness the agony of your people from miles away and not be able to do anything. It is a weird feeling to remain silent before the ignorance or lack of concern of others. It is weird, destabilizing and heartbreaking…

On Monday, a major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 hit Turkey and was strongly felt in Syria, only to be followed by numerous aftershocks, including one almost as big as the initial one. More than 11,000 people have lost their lives so far and the death toll is rising by the minute. The affected area has also been hit by a snow storm, further limiting the rescue efforts. People wait for the news of their loved ones stuck beneath the slabs of concrete and pieces of shattered glass while rescue teams lack the resources to help — if they could make it to the affected areas that is. Civilians try to smash their way through the ruins and use any tool at their disposal to help their parents, children, neighbors — anyone who makes the tiniest noise to ask for help. Trucks full of donations can’t make it to their destinations; airports are blocked. Those who were lucky enough to be rescued also need to battle with hunger and freezing temperatures. 

In the meantime, Twitter and other social media platforms that are crucial to coordinate communication between rescue teams have been suspended to silence the criticism against the government. President Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency, possibly preparing to take advantage of the crisis for political gains. He asked for the patience of the people, but little is he aware that it is difficult to stay patient when your life changes in seconds. 30 to 40 seconds. It is not acceptable that the Turkish government’s response is inadequate and slow while there has been a lot of support from the international community, particularly from the neighboring countries. It also wouldn’t come as a surprise if Erdogan tried to postpone or even cancel the upcoming elections — another strategic move to consolidate his authoritarian rule. 

Simply put, what is happening in Turkey right now is a humanitarian crisis — much bigger than anything the country has ever experienced. 

The Turkish Students Association partnered with many other student organizations on campus to collect donations. Considering the recent depreciation of the Turkish currency, any amount of donation in dollars makes a significant difference. I am grateful to those who reached out to me, to everyone who made the slightest donation. Thank you for your awareness; thank you for your efforts.

But I also wonder whether there is more we can do — and yes, there is. I was disheartened to see that only a few faculty members acknowledged the situation in classes. Even when the disaster is not directly related to the topic of academic discussion, it makes a difference to say a few words out loud; it makes a difference to encourage people to help in any shape or form. I was disheartened to see that no official announcements of solidarity or support came from Yale, where Turkish students make up a considerable portion of the international community. I was disheartened to see that many people simply acted and continue to act as if nothing happened while my eyes fill with tears, thinking of the dead and displaced people, the young and newborn children who will have to grow up without a family, the people who still hope, even after 60 hours, to receive good news of their loved ones. 

If you haven’t already, please read about what is happening in Turkey. Please reach out to your Turkish friends to show that you are there to help, that you care. Believe me it makes a huge difference. Please share the informatics on your social media. The more people we reach, the better. And please consider making a donation. As cliché as it sounds, one less coffee or take-out you buy can save someone’s life. 

Dismissing any type of natural disaster, war or disease is never acceptable. It is human life we are talking about — regardless of how dehumanizing the numbers might seem. It also should not matter if the said disaster is happening on the other side of the world with no implications for your life here. It is not okay to remain silent. It is not okay to remain ignorant. It is not okay to remain dismissive. It simply is not.