DRYDEN, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A Tompkins Cortland Community College Professor is back in the United States after traveling to Turkey in February following the two devastating earthquakes.
“I’ve been in constant communication with them since I left,” said Amber Gilewski, a psychology professor at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
She may be in a different country, thousands of miles away, but Gilewski is making sure Turkey and its earthquake victims are not left behind.
“Them giving me updates, sending me pictures, videos of their continued efforts to help people on the ground,” said Gilewski.
We first spoke with Gilewski and her former student and Turkey native, Emre Kaya via zoom.
At the time Gilewski was staying in Istanbul, Turkey and already had plans to visit Turkey before the two earthquakes happened. After learning about the devastation, she was determined to get there faster. Gilewski was able to raise $1,500 before leaving for Istanbul to help with recovery efforts.
“I remember asking about hey when you find dead bodies do you have, is everyone in a hazmat suit or do you have all the resources. They were like well actually we didn’t have enough of these hazmats for everyone. There wasn’t enough supplies for them to do everything they needed to do,” said Gilewski.
With the money Gilewski raised, she was able to fill that void, even meeting with former students, volunteers and team leaders as part of the Search and Rescue Team Düzce99.
“They showed me more videos and pictures of some of the search efforts. They had to keep track of how many people they found both alive and dead unfortunately and document that with pictures, the people they found for the authorities,” said Gilewski.
Gilewski was given the coat Düzce99’s Team Leader wore during those search and rescue efforts, and it now hangs in her office.
Gilewski’s efforts don’t stop there. She already has a trip booked to Turkey for March 28th and will spend six days there, continuing to help those impacted by the earthquake in any way she can. She will be meeting with the Düzce99 team, which includes, her former student, volunteers and the team leader.
She continues to encourage the public to donate and help make a difference.
Click here if you would like to donate to the Düzce99 Search and Rescue group. The public can donate by using their IBAN number. You may need to use Google Translate to translate the website.
Click here for a list of places people can donate to.
Click here to learn about The White Helmets, a volunteer rescue team out of Syria.
Click here to learn about AHBAP, a Turkish NGO that provides shelter, food and medical supplies to those in need.