by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan
“Help me! Help me!” Juliva Benlingan, 33, shouted with all her heart for the rescuers to hear her.
She was in the house of her employer when a 7.8 earthquake magnitude earthquake hit some parts of Turkey and Syria in early February. Her shouts couldn’t be heard so she tried to bang a metal she was able to hold onto against the material stuck on her head.
Her employer already thought that she was dead but her family in the Philippines continued to pray for a miracle. Their prayers were answered.
After 60 hours of being under the rubble, she was miraculously saved by the hardworking rescuers. She had bruises on her face and legs. She was dehydrated but she was alive.
Her story was just one of the many miraculous survival accounts in earthquake-stricken Turkey and Syria. Countless children were found alive after several days of being buried, bringing joy and hope to those who are working hard day and night to search for survivors.
A 17-year-old Aleyna Ölmez was found 248 hours after and an 8-year-old Rigit was pulled from a collapsed building 52 hours after. Indeed, their survival is nothing short of a miracle. Not only did they endure the heavy weight of the wreckage above them but the lack of food and water plus the dreadfully cold winter spell.
But unfortunately, there are more lifeless bodies being retrieved compared to those being found alive.
According to reports, the combined death toll in Turkey and Syria now stands at more than 47,000. The number keeps growing. This number includes two Filipinas, one of them died with her three children.
The epicenter of the powerful earthquake was near the cities where millions of Syrian refugees reside. This disaster has added more misery along the border, an area ravaged by civil war and beset by conflict and refugee crisis.
Millions of people there have already been relying on humanitarian aid even before the earthquake struck. I can only imagine the struggle and suffering of the people there, especially the children.
While all these were happening, I was enjoying my time with my family in the Philippines for a vacation. Little did I know that many were already fighting for their lives, many families have lost their homes and loved ones, and two nations, already struggling have been inflicted with further suffering.
When I found out about the news two weeks after it happened, I was convicted and heartbroken. I immediately, albeit delayed, uttered prayers of comfort, help and peace upon those who are affected.
The stories of miracles surely bring encouragement but my heart grieves terribly for those parents who have lost their children, and children who have lost their parents.
It may have been a month since the tragedy struck (and there are still a number of aftershocks that continue to cause anxiety and fear among the people of Turkey and Syria) but the recovery will take years and the healing of broken hearts may take forever.
The earthquake didn’t just destroy buildings and houses, it tore away families, ravaged souls, broke countless hearts and changed lives forever.
But let us not allow the story to end this way. Let us show the people of Turkey and Syria that they are not alone in their suffering. May they realize that the world empathizes with them.
We can send help by giving to organizations such as World Vision that give humanitarian aid to those affected.
Let us continue to pray for the families who have lost their homes and loved ones. Let us give encouragement and comfort to our Turkish and Syrian friends.
Let us continue to cheer on the government and the rescuers who are doing the best they can to rescue and retrieve.
Kudos to the mighty men and women, both local and international, who are laying down their lives to give support to the victims in every way.
May we be a source of miracle, hope and light that the people of Turkey and Syria badly need at this time.
The world will continue to face tragedies and disasters. In fact, recently, Tajikistan was also hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
Fortunately, no casualties have been reported. But in the midst of all these, there will be glimmers of hope and stories of miracles.
Just as Juliva shouted help with all her heart and her prayer has been heard, we can trust that there is a God who hears and rescues us.
He also uses us to be the help that someone needs. May we see the miracles, big and small, amidst the tragedies of life.
by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan