Sarah Yener, the English Department Chair at a high school in Antalya, Turkey, created a project that is having a profound effect on the lives of those who lost everything when earthquakes struck the Turkey/Syria region in February 2023. Prior to applying to The Pollination Project’s Resilience and Relief Fund, Sarah had been using her own money to purchase things like 200 pairs of underwear for the women and children arriving in her town. Now, along with teachers and students from her school, she is working to help people that need help rebuilding their lives.
One family of five that arrived in their pajamas at the Crisis Centre lost everything when their apartment building collapsed in Adiyaman. One of the most beautiful things that Sarah and her team discovered when they began to assist this family is that people love to help when given the chance.
“We were shocked at how contagious charity can be. Firstly, we were able to find an apartment with the help of a realtor who refused to charge a commission. Our teachers then raised enough money for the first 6 months of rent,” said Sarah. “The previous renter decided to sell all their furniture to us for a steep discount and one school parent paid that entire bill. Our school purchased all the books that the children needed to return to school. We found the father a job doing maintenance at a local hotel and the mother is working at a supermarket. This is proof that pollination works and thrives.”
In the end, they took the mother to the store to buy all the odds and ends that make a house a home including slippers, pots, pans, cutlery, towels, sheets and linens, and a desk for the teenage son who is studying for his university exams.
Recently, they came into contact with a group of teachers in Hatay and Antakya who were helping survivors living in tent cities. They learned that teachers had sent a report stating that they had an urgent need for hygiene kits. With the help of the Pollination Project and donations from teachers, they were able to supply and deliver 500 hygiene packs. Their original goal was 250 so we were beyond pleased when this goal was surpassed. The hygiene packs included: underwear, menstrual pads, shampoo, cream, cologne, razors, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.
As Sarah and her fellow teachers work to reach those in need of assistance, they are not only helping those who lost everything, they are opening the door for others in the community to share. This work is an illustration of what is possible when the human spirit engages in acts of kindness; this is how we create a more compassionate world.