A 24-year-old French woman has driven her truck to Türkiye to deliver aid to the earthquake victims.
After hearing news about the twin earthquakes in southern Türkiye, Gulfem Zengin, a French national born to Turkish immigrants, set out on a trip from the French city of Lyon to Kahramanmaras in southern Türkiye.
“I felt very bad and very sad when I saw the news regarding the earthquakes,” Zengin, said in front of the rubbles in the city centre of Kahramanmaras.
“All my friends and family members cried for Türkiye following the earthquakes.”
She said that Turkish immigrants contacted her for the delivery of humanitarian aid, adding that she set out on her own, taking a difficult journey for the earthquake victims.
“It was something I had never done before. I was alone. It was impossible for me, but I thought this is about helping the victims. This is the help we can do. That’s why I put my fears aside.”
‘I felt sadness and pain’
She took the journey from Lyon to Kapikule, the Turkish border crossing point in Edirne province on the border of Türkiye and Bulgaria.
Carrying food, clothes, medicines and pet food collected from the French nationals born to Turkish immigrants, she first reached Kapikule after a two-day journey.
She arrived in Kahramanmaras on Saturday and delivered her aid in coordination with Türkiye’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority.
“I arrived at Kahramanmaras by driving fast with little sleep. My family is proud of me. I sent videos to my family along the way to let them know I was okay,” Zengin said.
“I felt sadness and pain when I saw the collapsed buildings. I delivered clothing, mountain equipment, pet food, and some medicine,” she added.
She was born in France and her family is originally from Yozgat. She does not have any relatives or friends in Kahramanmaras.
She completed her around 4,300-kilometre trip in four days.
Asked how the other truck drivers treated her on the way, Zengin said that the drivers were happy to see a woman driving a truck.
“If I made them happy, I’m happy … Most of them were also surprised when they saw me driving a truck.”
At least 40,689 people have been killed in two powerful earthquakes that rocked southern Türkiye on Feb. 6, according to the latest official figures.
The 7.7- and 7.6-magnitude earthquakes, centred in the Kahramanmaras province, affected more than 13 million people across 11 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, Elazig and Sanliurfa.
In Syria, at least 5,840 people have been killed in the deadly earthquakes.