Vigil to support Turkey and Syria earthquake victims held at Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens

Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 10:59 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - There were candles, prayers and tears in Cleveland, as a number of people gathered at the Syrian Cultural Gardens to hold a vigil to remember the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria.

The quake with a magnitude that registered 7.8 on the Richter scale is being called the deadliest of this century.

So far, more than 23,000 people have been killed. A human tragedy of monumental proportions as rescuers on the ground continue to look for survivors in the overwhelming devastation, even five days after the quake.

Lobna Alassil of Cleveland who was born in Syria broke down in tears as she told those gathered for the vigil that she learned one of her best friends was killed in the earthquake in Turkey, “I wish I got to say goodbye to one of my best friends. They just found his body today.

The family told me they found the body where he was attached to the door trying to open the door. But, unfortunately, it looked like the wall hit him and he got immediate death because of where it fell on his head.”

Now, Northeast Ohioans are hoping candles and prayers in Cleveland, can provide hope and light a world away, where there’s so much pain and devastation. Alassil held a candle and a photo of her friend killed in Turkey, saying, “This guy we lost him, his brother, his wife, the kids and six of his cousins.”

That’s why Cleveland has joined the nation in wanting to provide support to the survivors who are suffering the trauma of losing their loved ones, while living with no electricity, water and no shelter in subzero temperatures.

Nehmet Gencer of Cleveland is originally from Turkey and has experienced the aftermath of a tornado first hand, when he traveled back to his home country to help with the disaster in 1999, “People don’t talk, they look at you, no words, and you look at them and you have nothing to ask either. You can’t say how are you, it is not the time. Many times I just sat side by side with them and no words.”

In Syria, the people have already suffered airstrikes and bombs over the past 12 years, as well as being denied access to humanitarian aide.

Leena Zahra a Syrian-American born in Cleveland, says your prayers and support can truly make a difference, “To know that Cleveland, Ohio cares truly means everything, it’s their last shred of hope.”

The group says the best way you can help is to donate to a reputable organization, because even a donation of $5 can go a long way in helping during the crisis. They also encourage everyone to call and write federal lawmakers and ask the to vote to deliver an aid package to help Turkey and Syria.