After the earthquakes and aftershocks hit Turkey and Syria in early February, local community organizations in East York jumped into action to help from afar.
A “bake and sale” put together by Turkish mothers and community organizations took place at St. John The Baptist Norway Anglican Church on March 4.
The event raised money for Turkey following the Feb. 6 earthquakes, which, along with aftershocks and tremors, have left tens of thousands of people dead, thousands more injured and millions displaced.
Ankara Library of Toronto and the Turkish Community Heritage Centre of Canada teamed up with Turkish mothers and local artists to put together the event.
The fundraiser started off as just a bake sale, as it was popular in schools and easy to execute. But as local artists started to offer their art for the cause, it turned into a bake and sale said Tuba Postaci, a volunteer at the bake and sale.
At the event, they had many tables full of Turkish treats, food, and tables of artwork and jewellery. When these were bought, the money was donated to AHBAP.
“AHBAP is a non-government organization in Turkey that has become the icon of dependability and everybody believes in them, they trust them, everybody knows where the money is going,” said Sema Güler, a board member of the Turkish Community Heritage Centre of Canada.
One of the food items sold was the Turkish semolina halva, or irmik helvasi. This is a special dessert made right after a death and 40 days after to honour the deceased. This dessert was featured because of all the deaths that occurred due to the earthquake and to honour the victims’ passings.
Community togetherness was another reason for the bake and sale.
“We thought of this because everyone was mourning in their own homes,” Güler said. “A lot of families, a lot of people from the Turkish community, a lot of people lost friends, family members, and they were all suffering, and we thought this would bring people together.”
Many people who volunteered or went to the event had family and friends in Turkey who were affected by the earthquake. Some were also born and raised there.
“My hometown was Gaziantep, it’s one of the ten cities that was impacted by the earthquake,” Postaci said. “The places like my school, the places I go, the cafés I go and visit as a high school student, they all collapsed, they are all under the rubble.
“So for me, being part of this event is kind of important to me because I feel like I am touching my hometown.”