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The pain of Türkiye’s earthquakes

İpek Eser/Senior Illustrator, YJI

ISTANBUL – I was up late studying in my living room Monday when I took a break to look at my phone. I saw that an earthquake had happened, and my first thought was my brother, who is in conscription near places that were affected by the earthquake.

It was late at night – I couldn’t call him. I knew in my mind that he would be safe because where else would be safer than the military, but my heart was like, what if it did? and that was the fear of death I had.

I only got about four hours of sleep because I couldn’t call my brother and I didn’t relax until my mom told me that they had talked and he was fine.

I have always been very afraid of losing a person I cared about or dying myself. The idea of not knowing what happens next and losing control of your decisions makes me uncomfortable, sad and stressed.

The earthquake that happened last November already triggered this for me. Sometimes I wake up and think, Today a deadly earthquake could happen.

I can no longer close my bedroom door and go to sleep because what if an earthquake happens and I lose time getting the door open? I keep thinking, What I would do if an earthquake happened and I try to find a safe place in every room of my house to wait till it’s over.

I think of an escape plan.

I have seen many sad videos and photos from Monday’s two earthquakes but the one that made me saddest was a photo of a father who does not stop holding his daughter’s hand even though she’d died and her body was still under a building.

This is one of the reasons that I can’t even open social media platforms because if I keep seeing things like this I will have a breakdown. Nobody deserves to go through this.

I know I’m not the only one with fears like this, and I can’t even begin to imagine how the people who actually had to go through this must be feeling.

I have absolutely no idea what I would do if I couldn’t reach out to a loved one for many hours, or if they couldn’t make it out of their building.

My heart aches for everyone who had to go through this and I will do anything in my power to help them, from trying to provide for their needs to praying for them.

Naz Mergen, a Reporter with Youth Journalism International, wrote this essay.

İpek Eser, a Senior Illustrator with Youth Journalism International, made the illustration at the top.

Read more from YJI about earthquakes in Türkiye:

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