Earthquake Disaster Response – A Journey of Recovery and Resilience

Michelle MachenMauser News

On February 6, a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern and central Turkey, as well as northern and western Syria, causing catastrophic widespread damage in an area approximately the size of Germany.  While our local Mauser Packaging Solutions team members in Gebze, Turkey (located about 13 hours from the earthquake epicenter) are safe and our operations were not directly impacted, many of our colleagues have family and/or friends who were.

Mauser Packaging Solutions made an immediate response to the tragedy by contributing a monetary donation to the Turkish Red Crescent organization, part of the International Red Cross, and by donating IBCs to be used to provide safe drinking water to those impacted by the earthquake. Additionally, the company has partnered with customers and a local high school to donate reconditioned steel drums which are modified to create fire barrels for cooking, boiling water and providing heat.

Individual facilities across the globe have contributed to relief efforts with a variety of donations. Employee at the Gebze, Turkey facility started a “Let’s rebuild our Community” campaign that raised a significant financial contribution that was made to AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency). In addition, they donated 100 pieces of bedding, 150 fleece outfits, toys, and books to victims and baked cookies and cakes that were sent daily on aid trucks. The reconditioning facility in Tuzla, Turkey partnered with other reconditioners to donate more than 50 additional rebottled IBCs to supply clean water to victim tents. Teams in Erkelenz and Bammental, Germany made private donations to the Turkish Red Crescent Organization and German THW Organization (respectively). Trenton, New Jersey employees collected and shipped hundreds of winter clothing items, blankets, diapers and over-the-counter medications to be delivered to families impacted by the natural disaster.

View video to see how steel drums are modified to create fire barrels.
Mauser trailers deliver IBCs to affected areas.
Some items collected by employees in Trenton, NJ to be donated to earthquake victims.

Gönül Olcay, Mauser Packaging Solutions General Manager in Turkey, has been leading volunteer and donation efforts in heavily impacted areas during her personal time. After overcoming the initial shock and seeing the horrific images in the press and social media, Olcay immediately contacted the Red Crescent and AFAD to investigate how she could support them. After encountering some logistical challenges with initial volunteer efforts, Olcay and her family members decided to focus their efforts with a smaller and more flexible group of local volunteers. The group reached out to Hatay, a province that has incurred the most loss of life and destruction, as well as experiencing a second, smaller earthquake on February 20. The volunteer group applied for and received necessary permissions from the Governor’s Office to begin volunteer work in the area. We asked Olcay to provide a first-hand account of her experience working the in the affected region.

“Once we received necessary permissions from the Governor’s office, some of the group members stayed in Hatay to prepare a needs lists so we could collect needed items using donations from a group of philanthropists, including my family and friends, and sent the items to Hatay. We have established an organization where we hand over all donations directly to those in need. Currently, we do not accept cash donations but ask donors to supply the items on the need list and send them to us. When cash is needed, we only use our personal budgets.

I am happy to announce that as of March 13 we have established a unit consisting of two kindergartens where 100 earthquake victim families can be accommodated and where we can provide education for children aged two to seven. The tents provided are waterproof and are furnished with beds and heaters inside. The childcare units have educational materials, toys, generators, computers, nutritious food and cleaning supplies. Education will be provided by volunteer pedagogy students and our group will be responsible for the financing and management of this living space.

I was in Hatay again this weekend to support aid activities and a month later I can say that the situation there is still very bad. There are many villages and neighborhoods that have not yet received help. During my stay, while some of our team was installing the nursery and the tents, I, along with some friends, filled a vehicle with aid materials and traveled from village to village-distributing toys, shoes and snacks to children and hygiene materials to women. In addition, I worked at the Turkish Red Crescent's beverage truck that served coffee and tea to victims.

I also regularly visit university dormitories allocated for earthquake survivors who moved to Istanbul to care for children and elderly victims. Sometimes we read books together, sometimes we bake cookies, watch cartoons or news and even pray together. Just spending time with the victims helps them cope with the emotional trauma and uncertainty caused by this disaster.

There is a long road of recovery ahead and some areas may take years to return to a semblance of normal life, but I’m pretty determined to continue to support these people until they can get their lives back in order. It won't be easy, but I believe that by working together we will rebuild our community and the beautiful cities in South Turkey.”

“I’m incredibly humbled to have Gönül on our team,” said Michael Steubing, President of International Packaging, “From the operations floor to the backyard, Gönül’s dedication to Hatay and her region shows us that our actions have the potential to change, improve, and inspire others. Regardless of whether you have a formal leadership role, you too can volunteer your time or support relief efforts.”

Employees who would like to support relief efforts should consider donating to the Turkish Red Crescent or AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency). Olcay concluded her account saying, “I would like to kindly ask you that the victims of this earthquake, which is described as the worst disaster of the century, should not be forgotten all over the world. There is a great need for regular help today and it will be for a couple of years.”

  • Placeholder
Scroll to see images of Turkey volunteer efforts.