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Kids' Zone Brian Dispatch

Quakes and Shakes
February 16, 2000

Concrete crunches under my feet as I walk through this empty lot. Twisted metal rods reach in weird shapes from the rubble. I look up to see buildings slumping toward the ground.

In August 1999, the Earth groaned and shook for forty-five seconds; seconds that seemed to last an eternity. In less than a minute, thousands of people were killed, injured or left homeless, and sixty thousand buildings were destroyed or damaged. Some people lost their homes, some lost their friends, and some lost their families.

We are in Adapazari today to visit the students of Mithat Pasha High School; but to see them we must go to a neighboring school called Ataturk Lisesi because Mithat Pasha no longer exists. It was destroyed in the earthquake. Before meeting the students we chat with several teachers over cups of steaming tea. They explain that three groups of students have been sharing this building since October. But many of their friends aren't here, some moved to other cities, some died in the quake, and some are too frightened to return. Many students are scared to remain inside a building for a long period of time, and they have trouble concentrating on their schoolwork.
Click image for larger view
The class poses with Kavitha and Brian.

"WHAT schoolwork?", I wonder as we enter the classroom. Thirty students sit at empty desks. There is not a single textbook in sight. I move to write our names on the chalkboard but find no chalk. And where is the teacher? The students are eager to talk. They are eager to share their feelings about life here in Adapazari. Several speak English, and we are soon in a lively jumble of conversation. A ringing bell signals the end of the class, but a majority of the students remain to talk with us. Nearly every person in Adapazari knows someone who died in the earthquake. Students and teachers alike must grieve their losses and move forward to the best of their ability.


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