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Kids' Zone Kavitha Dispatch

COREM: Helping Kids Crawl From the Rubble
February 19, 2000

"Have you ever been in an earthquake?"

"No," I almost feel bad just admitting it.

"You are very lucky. You have good chance."

On August 17th, 1999, parts of Turkey were shaken by a huge earthquake that killed thousands of people and left many more without homes. Since we've been in Turkey, Brian and I have been learning a lot about the long, slow process of trying to rebuild after such a disaster. I had a very special visit with six teenaged girls from Yalova, Turkey who were willing to share with me, and all of you, some of their experiences during that awful night six months ago.

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Berrin slips in front to strike a pose with my 6 new friends! (From back L to R: Yasemin, Sultan, Mersiye, Ayse. Middle: Ebru and Esra. Front: Berrin)

Meet: Esra, age 12 Ayse, age 15 Yasemin, age 15 Ebru, age 12 Mersiye, age 17 Sultan, age 14

When the earthquake struck, the homes of all six of these girls were destroyed and they were all forced to move into one of the tent cities that sprang up around Yalova. After the earthquake, these girls spent a lot of time together at a children's center called COREM, which was created by some very special people to help heal the hearts and minds of the young people who had been through such a horrible disaster.

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I had a wonderful time at COREM with the kids from the tent city. width=175 height=114 border=0 alt=

I had a wonderful time at COREM with the kids from the tent city.

"You are very lucky that you have never been in a quake," all the girls tell me.

"We were very afraid ... it was so bad, we couldn't even move. We were stuck," Yasemin remembers.

"At first, I didn't think it was an earthquake," said Ebru. "I thought it was a bomb or something. I thought it was the end of the world."

"All day long that day, there were a lot of quakes, and the noise from the ground was still terrible."

"All people were afraid. Nobody knew what to do. We couldn't go in the homes, so we waited in the cars, the streets, on the beach."

"Schools didn't open again until October," said Yasemine. "But on the first day back at school ... it was a Monday, there was another quake and so the schools closed again for two more weeks."

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Six months later, there is still so much to rebuild in Yalova.

Six months later, there is still so much to rebuild in Yalova.

"The first day living in the tent, after the earthquake, it was very difficult. The second day was also," remembers Ebru. "But then my friend suggested that I visit COREM. My heart was weak, but after spending time at COREM things became more easy. We would draw, talk with a counselor, play games, make plays, have picnics ... I learned to love better. We have a lot of friends."

The girls all remembered all the fun they had had together, playing games, going to the theater, and spending nights sleeping together in the COREM tent. It was really nice to see that such good memories are possible from such a difficult period. During those weeks after the earthquake, people came together and helped each other in ways they never had before.


p.s. - Please e-mail me at

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