“Dad, are we going to die?”
Serkan Tadoglu (41), who lives in southern Turkey, has been asked this question every day by his six-year-old youngest daughter since her house was destroyed by an earthquake on the 6th.
“Where is mom, where is dad? Are you trying to kidnap me?”
One rescuer was asked this question by children rescued from rubble. The child’s parents were never found.
On the 13th (local time), the AFP news agency, citing psychologists and volunteers, reported that children are suffering from mental shock in front of the ruins destroyed by the earthquake.
Currently, a scene reminiscent of a movie set featuring ‘the end of the world’ is unfolding in Turkey and Syria. Coffins line the roadside, and ambulance sirens sound 24 hours a day. Amidst the collapsed rubble of buildings, rescuers lift the rotting debris to find the remains of the dead and place them in body bags.
Children at the scene of the damage are watching the horrific scene that they cannot bear to open their eyes.
Tadoglu, a resident of Kahramanmaras in southern Turkey, escaped from his home with his four children as soon as the magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck in the early morning of the 6th. And the house he lived in collapsed in one of about 3,000 aftershocks that followed.
Tadoglu lost about 10 of his relatives in the earthquake. But he knows he has to stand strong in the face of this heartbreaking reality. Above all else, his priority is to protect the children living in the tent village from the fear of an earthquake.
He said in an AFP interview, “My youngest, traumatized by the aftershocks, keeps asking, ‘Dad, are we going to die?’ Where are her relatives gone, she asks. So they didn’t show their bodies. Hug her child with her wife and she just says, ‘It’ll be all right,’” she laments.
◇“Where is my mother?”… Orphaned children and orphaned parents
Psychologist Sheehan Selig tweeted a conversation he had with paramedics involved in the quake rescue. The paramedic said children rescued from rubble first ask about their missing parents.
The paramedic told Selick, “The injured children asked me this. where is mom and where is dad Are you trying to kidnap me?”
As such, many children have lost their parents in the earthquake. Vice President Puat Okthai Türkiye said 574 children rescued from collapsed buildings were found without surviving parents. Only 76 children returned to their families.
On the other hand, there are many parents who have lost their children. A psychologist who works at a child support center in Hatay, one of the hardest-hit areas of the earthquake, said many parents are desperately searching for their missing children.
AFP reported that calls were pouring in from the Hatay region looking for missing children.
◇ “Adults need mental support just as much as children.”
Adults suffer from mental trauma as well. In the aftermath of the tragedy, adults need just as much emotional support as children, said Sueda Devech, a psychologist with the Turkiye volunteer group Dictus Worldwide.
Devech argued that the process of internalizing how much life had changed and how much was lost by the earthquake was quick for older generations.
Devech, who works in the tent village, told AFP: “A mother told me this. “Everyone tells me to be strong, but I can’t do anything,” she said. I can’t take care of the kids, I can’t eat,’” she said.
Currently, Devechi has children who survived the earthquake draw pictures to see what their psychological state is from their drawings.
“I don’t talk much about earthquakes with my children,” he said. We paint a picture together. We are watching how the current situation is reflected in the children’s drawings,” he explained.
Until now, children’s drawings are mostly mediocre.
Eshin Korman, a child rights expert, analyzed the background as “because children adapt to their surroundings faster than adults.”
However, Corman was concerned that the quake destroyed existing social support networks, exposing the children to dangerous long-term trauma. “Some children have lost their families. Now, there is no one to support them mentally,” he said.
◇ “Grandma, will there be another earthquake?” children’s questions
Selma Karaslan, 52, lives with her two grandchildren in a parked car on a road in Kahramanmaras littered with earthquake debris. Karaslan is doing his best to keep his grandchildren from getting hurt.
Karaslan tries to avoid talking about the earthquake with his grandchildren. It is because of the idea that if you make people think as happy as possible, you can dilute the bad memories of the earthquake to some extent.
But his six-year-old grandson still asks him this question.
“Grandma, will there be another earthquake?”
(Seoul-Antakya (Turkey) = News 1)
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.