It has been over a month since an earthquake shook Turkey and Syria killing over seven thousand people.
Altona's Zein Hamam and his family came to Canada as Syrian Refugees in 2016, sponsored by Altona's Build a Village organization.
While scrolling through his social media, Hamam saw a Tik Tok on his phone making fun of an earthquake in Syria and Turkey. He went downstairs to confirm the information with his mother, who he found crying. She confirmed it was true. The next couple of days were spent trying to reach out to survivors and family still living in Turkey and Syria.
"We tried to contact one person and that one person was able to contact the ones there in Syria, or maybe go even go check on them or something, because we weren't able to. That was the hard part for us, where we couldn't actually do anything to help. We were just here. What could we do? We were not there, so we couldn't. We didn't know what exactly they needed. Like a lot of them, we couldn't even get a hold of. Maybe they didn't have Wi-Fi, maybe they lost their phones or..."
They first got word Hamam's uncle, his dad's brother, and his family living in Turkey.
"They were all sleeping because it was 4am for them or three in the morning. So, they were actually able to leave the building that they were in. And then the building was all on the ground but then my mom tried to contact him and he said they were ok, but just they couldn't find a place to stay or food to buy or anything like that."
Unfortunately, they did receive bad news as well.
"So, on my dad's side, his cousin, his wife, and the kids were visiting his wife's family (in law) and none of them actually made it out. There were actually no survivors. I think my mom's sister and her whole family were not able to make it out. Only one kid was able to, like a 3-year-old. He survived after a few days; they were able to get him out. Most of the survivors were actually little kids, like mostly babies."
For the family living in Turkey, the following days were very difficult.
"They tried to get all together and to live in tents, and then the ones from Turkey, I think they were able to move to a house to a different province, after seven or eight days of just walking around, and sleeping on the street, trying to find something."
Last week, the Hamam family served a Syrian Supper to 50 people and raised $2000 to send to their family in need. Hamam shared his feelings on what this kind of community support means to them.
"Well, actually, it's amazing. It's telling us like we're not alone here. We can get the help we need, whenever we need it, so it's great."
A fundraising concert will be held Sunday March 19th, at Buhler Hall in Gretna with proceeds and donations going towards the Food Grains Bank earmarked for the Turkey Syria Relief Fund.