A Wrexham businessman who recently returned from Turkey has organised a fundraiser to aid the earthquake victims in his native Kurdistan who have been devastated.
When the earthquake struck, Baris Cakmak was in Istanbul and was unable to leave because of the impassable roads to return to his hometown close to Malatya.
Now that he is back in Wales, he has begun to raise money for the earthquake victims in the Kurdish territories of Turkey and Syria. He worries that the death toll, which is already at 33,000, could eventually reach 60-70,000.
“Thankfully, my home city was not as seriously affected as many in terms of lives, but buildings have been damaged and destroyed,” said Mr. Cakmak, who owns a network of barbershops in Wrexham, Coedpoeth, Chirk, and Mold. It’s freezing outside where family and friends are living. Currently, 20 million people live in housing instability.
“Like all the Kurdish and Turkish community here in Wales, I want to do something to help so this Saturday we will be donating all the takings from haircuts in the shops I run to the earthquake appeal.
“Some clothes and other donations have already gone out but the quickest and most effective way to help survivors now is with money. There are villages in Turkey and Syria that still have not had any help and people have been left in the freezing cold with no shoes or coats. It’s a desperate situation.
“We’re also planning for the longer term – this appeal will run until we’re able to go to the region and provide support for survivors, especially children who have lost their parents. These orphans often have no-one to care for them.”
In order to try to gain access to areas of war-torn Syria across the border, Mr. Cakmak explained that he was in contact with a local MP in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkish Kurdistan: “Places like Afrim and Kobani have already had years of conflict with many people made homeless so this is a double blow.” Due to the political climate, they are not receiving any international aid, so we will attempt to assist them there as well.
Every one of Mr. Cakmak’s barbershops has donation stations for customers who would like to contribute.