BTF Türkiye Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund

January 31, 2024 | Blog

Background: Türkiye earthquakes

In the early hours of February 6, 2023, Türkiye was struck by a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake at 4:17 AM, with its epicenter in the south eastern province of Kahramanmaraş. Roughly nine hours later, a second quake with a magnitude of 7.7 struck about 59 miles (95 kilometers) southwest of the first tremor’s epicenter. The initial earthquake was the most severe Türkiye had faced in decades, matching the intensity of the nation’s strongest recorded earthquake in 1939.

The twin earthquakes caused widespread devastation across 11 Turkish provinces — Adıyaman, Gaziantep, Kilis, Hatay, Malatya, Diyarbakır, Adana, Osmaniye, Kahramanmaraş, Şanlıurfa, and Elazığ. The impact extended also to bordering Syria and Iraq, and neighboring Lebanon.

The earthquakes wrought large-scale destruction, affecting around 14 million people –approximately 16% of Turkey’s population– while injuring more than 100,000, and claiming over 50,000 lives, according to official figures. The extent of fatalities and devastation marks it as the deadliest earthquake in modern Turkish history. The World Bank’s Global Rapid Post-Disaster Damage Estimation (GRADE) report has estimated the physical damage at $34.2 billion, ranking it as the fourth costliest earthquake globally. The costs for recovery and reconstruction are expected to double the initial damages.


How we took action

Thanks to the swift and coordinated response of Bridge to Türkiye Fund’s extensive community of volunteers throughout the United States and Türkiye, we were immediately able to establish contact with our volunteers on the ground. The prompt flow of information enabled us to kickstart our relief efforts within mere minutes after the earthquake struck. Close communication with our network of volunteers who were locally present allowed for a healthy preliminary assessment of the situation, ensuring a rapid and relevant response to the urgent needs of those affected by the disaster.  Our Bizim Türkiyemiz Relief Fund, combined with donations from various sources, successfully raised over $13 million – a remarkable achievement made possible by the overwhelming support of our deeply connected community. This substantial sum is a testament to the generosity and solidarity of our donors, including individuals, foundations and corporations. A significant portion of these funds was amplified through corporate donation matching programs.  Our earthquake response strategy was based on the following objectives:
  • Teaming up with Türkiye’s leading local NGOs present on the ground.
  • Maintaining an equal opportunities focus, specifically concentrating on the welfare of children and vulnerable groups.
  • Careful vetting of every partner organization to which we transfer funds, and pursuing a strong commitment to transparency to ensure 100% of our community’s donations reach disaster survivors with no overhead costs.

Emergency phase

On February 6, 2023, Bridge to Türkiye Fund (BTF) mobilized an immediate grassroots emergency response to help alleviate the devastation in the aftermath of the twin earthquakes.  Joining on-ground efforts from afar, we worked hand in hand with our supporters, leaders and carefully vetted partners to formulate a plan integrating two main transformative phases. The initial Emergency phase focused on nutrition and warmth, supplying much needed hot meals, tents, container homes, portable sanitation facilities, water tanks, generators, and stoves, while the Recovery phase maintained a longer term focus to support rebuilding efforts in the earthquake-affected cities. We initiated our first transfer of resources to the earthquake region on February 6. Our immediate assistance focused on nutrition and warmth, supplying much needed hot meals, tents, container homes, portable sanitation facilities, water tanks, generators, and stoves as part of this stage.  The distribution of our Emergency phase funds is as follows:
  • $1,436,695 through our BTF Direct program to offer speedy emergency relief through our partners on the ground, including ODTÜ Mezunlar Derneği, TOKTUT and İhtiyaç Haritası. Our direct procurement provided food packages, safe drinking water, shelter options, clothing items, mobile toilets and hygiene kits to thousands of peopleacross the 11 provinces affected by the earthquake.
  • $725,000 with Ahbap in the earliest days after the disaster to deliver food packages, safe drinking water, blankets, medical aid, 141 mobile toilets, 54 electric generators, 87 container homes and 299 tents across all 11 provinces affected by the earthquake.
  • $147,074 with TOKTUT to establish 2 field kitchens serving hot meals for hundreds of survivors daily, set up a 150-unit tent city in Malatya, deliver hygiene packages and clothing items in Malatya, Adıyaman, Kahramanmaraş, Şanlıurfa, Gaziantep, Hatay and Adana during the first week after the earthquake.
  • $76,250 with Wtech to address a diverse range of emergency needs, setting up 500 family-sized tents, 20 mobile toilets, 100 stoves and 3 generators as well as delivering hygiene kits, clothing items and toys to survivor families in Hatay.
  • $75,000 with Lokman Hekim Sağlık Vakfı to deliver 2000 hygiene kits to survivors living in tents across all 11 provinces affected by the earthquake.
  • $50,060 with Topraktan Tabağa to run field kitchens in Hatay, providing daily hot meals for one month after the earthquake.
  • $50,050 with İhtiyaç Haritası especially to address the needs of mothers and infants: delivering baby food, providing 11 industrial water tanks, and establishing 132 container toilets across all 11 provinces affected by the earthquake.
  • $50,045 with Bütün Çocuklar Bizim Derneği to address the specific needs of mothers and infants by delivering baby food, hygiene kits and sleeping bags to the survivors. 

Recovery phase

Two months after the earthquakes, BTF shifted its focus to the Recovery phase, channeling resources and efforts towards more enduring and sustainable solutions for rebuilding the earthquake-stricken communities. Our work during this phase spans several critical areas:

Education: We are committed to educational recovery, providing scholarships and rebuilding destroyed school facilities to ensure uninterrupted learning for children and youth.

Housing: Acknowledging the urgent need for secure living conditions, our projects include constructing permanent homes, essential for the long-term stability and rebuilding of communities.

Healthcare: A key component of our healthcare investments is providing prostheses and educational support to child amputee survivors of the earthquakes through Project CATE. This crucial support not only aids in children’s physical rehabilitation but also plays a significant role in their psychological recovery and reintegration into daily life.

Children’s wellbeing: Focused on the physical and emotional health of children, we’re implementing programs with our local partners aimed at promoting children’s overall wellbeing and creating a nurturing environment for their development.

Psychosocial support: Recognizing the deep emotional scars left by the earthquakes, the psychosocial support projects we execute with our partners are tailored to help individuals, especially children, cope with trauma and regain a sense of normalcy and security.

Research and development: Through our partnership with NVIDIA, we support scientific research programs in universities based in Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, aiming to develop artificial intelligence-based technologies for disaster preparedness. We have also teamed up with METU Faculty of Architecture for the 3D documentation of Hatay’s collapsed historical buildings.

Through these varied efforts, Bridge to Türkiye Fund is dedicated to not just reconstructing but also strengthening the resilience of the communities affected by the earthquakes, paving the way towards a more secure and hopeful future.

The distribution of our Recovery phase funds is as follows: 

  • Ahbap: $3,751,869 for re-building 5 schools, providing 150 annual scholarships, and permanent housing projects for 27 families across Hatay, Adıyaman and Gaziantep.
  • Child Amputees of Türkiye Earthquakes Project (CATE): $2,331,039 (through our partners Çukurova University Child Wellness Center and Bütün Çocuklar Bizimdir Derneği) for supporting child amputee survivors of Türkiye earthquakes by providing prosthetic limbs for 44 children, psychosocial support, and 95 annual scholarships, as well as establishing a central facility to perform and oversee medical services.
  • Toplum Gönüllüleri Vakfı (TOG): $326,000 for providing psychosocial support to over 5,000 children and youth aged 2-23 through a rehabilitation center in Gaziantep.
  • Eymir Kültür Vakfı (EKV): $250,000 for the reconstruction of İskenderun Technical University’s vocational school of higher education.
  • Nesin Vakfı: $202,279 for providing annual scholarships and providing psychosocial support to children through Aziz Dede’s Mobile Workshop.
  • Bütün Çocuklar Bizim Derneği (BÇBD): $136,733 for 8 annual scholarships, providing 150 students with laptops and tablets, and building 2 robotic coding labs for earthquake survivor students in Ankara and Mardin.
  • Hatay Arsuz State Hospital: $150,000 for the procurement of medical equipment.
  • BTF Direct: $246,739 for the direct procurement of more than 75 container homes in Hatay led by our BTF circle leaders and partners, construction of 3 units of permanent housing in Nurdağı, Gaziantep and the delivery of educational materials to 113 schools as part of our BTF4Kids program.
  • Teknolojide Kadın Derneği (Wtech): $101,562 for the Tech Talent Academy project addressing 1000 children in Hatay.
  • NVIDIA: $56,100 for supporting disaster preparedness technology research being conducted by 8 Turkish academics based in universities in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir.
  • Parıltı Görmeyen Çocuklara Destek Derneği: $53,275 for providing visually impaired children in the earthquake-affected areas with laptops and braille tablets.
  • Tohum Otizm Vakfı: $50,789 for 2 container classrooms for children with special needs in Hatay, and providing technology and educational resources to support 250 children with autism.
  • TOKTUT: $39,600 for providing safe drinking water dispensers to more than 3,000 students in 6 schools across Malatya, Adıyaman, Kahramanmaraş, Gaziantep and Hatay.
  • Pusulam Kitap: $38,640 for building 23 libraries and delivering 2,000 children’s books in Kahramanmaraş, Hatay, Osmaniye, Malatya, Adıyaman and Şanlıurfa.
  • Türkiye Down Sendromu Derneği: $38,520 for 4 container centers for children with special needs in Hatay, Adıyaman and Gaziantep, providing rehabilitation to 2,272 children, and providing 8 children with laptops.
  • Türk Üniversiteli Kadınlar Derneği: $34,550 for providing scholarships and tablets to 20 children.
  • Buradayız Hatay Derneği: $34,500 for providing annual scholarships to 80 children over 2 years.
  • Kanserli Çocuklara Umut Vakfı (KAÇUV): $33,710 for providing 15 annual scholarships and laptops to 27 students.
  • Habitat Derneği: $33,500 for providing psychosocial support and education to 1760 children aged 12-16 through the Accessible Community Center in Malatya.
  • Türk Böbrek Vakfı: $33,045 for purchasing 4 dialysis machines to support the organization’s dialysis center in Kahramanmaraş.
  • Saadet Öğretmen Çocuk İstismarı İle Mücadele Derneği (UCİM): $22,040 for providing psychosocial support to women and children through 3 container centers in Arsuz, Hatay.
  • Travma ve Afet Ruh Sağlığı Çalışmaları Derneği (TARDE): $20,511 for providing psychosocial support to children, adults and families across the earthquake-affected provinces.
  • Kanserle Dans Derneği: $20,045 for providing 6-monthly cash allowances to 20 families with children fighting cancer across the earthquake region. 
  • Birey ve Toplum Ruh Sağlığında İz Derneği (BİRİZ): $16,400 for the installation of water filters in 10 schools across Hatay.
  • Ali İsmail Korkmaz Vakfı (ALİKEV): $16,000 for providing annual scholarships to 11 children over 2 years and laptops to 6 children.
  • Middle East Technical University (METU) Faculty of Architecture: $14,958 for the three-dimensional modeling and documentation of destroyed historic buildings in Hatay.
  • Diyabetli Çocuklar Vakfı (DİYAÇEV): $10,045 for providing glucose strips to children with diabetes across the earthquake-impacted region.
  • Değiştiren Adımlar Derneği (DADer): $8,333 to provide educational and technical equipment to 300 children impacted by the earthquake.
  • Okul Destek Derneği (ODD): $8,000 to provide laptops to 40 students.
  • Sivil Alan Hareket Ağı (SAHA): $5,500 for providing psychosocial support to 1,000 children through their Cankucak program.

Note: For the full list of our partners in scholarship programs, school re-building projects, and housing, please refer to the next sections.

Earthquake scholarships program

To support students whose studies have been impacted by the earthquakes, we have launched multiple programs with various partners to provide annual scholarships designed for K-12 and university students. Through the combined efforts and guidance of our circle leaders, collaborating partners, and local allies in Türkiye, we are providing financial support to a total of 1,124 students impacted by this disaster.

School re-building projects

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that over 4 million students had their education disrupted due to widespread devastation after Türkiye’s February 6 earthquakes. Around 254,000 students affected by the earthquakes have been forced to resume their studies outside the disaster zone, with summer programs scheduled to compensate for learning loss. Addressing this fundamental problem, we have committed a significant portion of our Recovery phase funds to re-building destroyed school buildings together with our trusted local partners across the earthquake region.

Housing projects

According to OCHA, approximately 2.3 million people live in formal and informal settlements across the earthquake-affected region of Türkiye, with 1.6 million residing in the latter. In many of these settlements, the absence of clean water, sanitation, and hygiene amenities poses a major challenge. This shortfall can result in adverse health effects, promote the transmission of diseases, and worsen existing vulnerabilities. To address this pressing need, we have partnered with Ahbap Association and mobilized BTF Direct to build a total of 30 houses in Gaziantep’s Nurdağı district.

Project CATE (Child Amputees of Türkiye Earthquakes)

The Child Amputees of Türkiye Earthquakes (CATE) project emerged as an example of how community-driven philanthropy can work marvels in bringing about enduring and sustainable solutions for disaster recovery. At Bridge to Türkiye Fund, we take pride in embracing this grassroots approach, acting as a conduit between bright ideas, dedicated teams and philanthropic resources.

Conceived by a group of Turkish and American medical professionals in the US and Türkiye, project CATE set out to devise a long-term and versatile support system combining essential healthcare and educational assistance to child amputees who were impacted by the February 6 earthquakes. CATE addresses a need that may often be overlooked in post-disaster scenarios, focusing on child amputees who have endured limb loss. Its core mission is to offer these children day-to-day psychosocial support, improved future prospects, and a renewed opportunity for life post-disaster. 

In bringing CATE to life, medical teams from the US and Türkiye have collaborated to establish a sustainable medical support system for these young survivors, ensuring they receive the ongoing care they need. A key aspect of CATE is addressing the continuing prosthetic requirements of these children, who will need their prostheses changed as they grow. Moreover, CATE  is committed to providing sustained educational scholarships for at least 200 amputee students throughout their primary and secondary education. Currently, 95 scholarships have been awarded as of February 2024.

In Türkiye, the initiative operates under the auspices of Çocuk İyilik Merkezi (Child Wellness Center) in collaboration with Adana-based Çukurova University, actively delivering the medical services these children require locally.

Thanks to the incredible response from our community, we were able to bring the CATE project to life, successfully raising over $2,331,000.

Turkish nobel laureate Prof. Aziz Sancar expresses support for the Child Amputees of Türkiye Earthquakes (CATE) project. (Sancar Turkish Center – Chapel Hill, North Carolina)

The road ahead

As we continue our efforts to rebuild communities one year after the February 6 Türkiye earthquakes, the role of our community and local partners has been invaluable. However, the journey ahead still requires collective action and support – making your contributions crucial. By donating to BTF’s Türkiye Earthquakes Relief and Recovery Fund, you will contribute to a critical resource in our ongoing mission to rebuild lives in Türkiye. Your involvement can make a significant difference. To learn more about how you can actively participate in our community and contribute through different ways, please feel free to reach out to us at Whether through donations, volunteering, or spreading awareness, every action you take helps us move closer to healing and restoring the communities affected by this tragedy. Join us today!