After single-handedly reaching out to her community via Facebook, Zeynap Kurmus Hurbas has spent much of her free time coordinating volunteer aid deliveries with fellow Turks in Istanbul to help Syrian refugees in need.
Since Turkey opened its borders to Syrian refugees, 2.5 million have been accepted into the country, some receiving government help or aid from charities, but most live in the cities and towns and only get by with help from Turks like Hurbas.
Hurbas first offered to coordinate these aid deliveries last fall after the heartbreaking pictures of dead Syrian children flooded social media. Rather than adding her voice to the many who offer sympathy and little support, she decided to start bringing food, clothes, and coal for keeping warm to hundreds of families and invited others in the area to do the same.
“We put a post on Facebook saying ‘This weekend, we’re going to give food and baby clothes and stuff to X amount of families,’ ” says Hurbas. “So people just buy things online and send them to our depot here.”
Although she’s been dubbed the “angel without wings,” she would rather talk about other groups that are able to help many more refugees with everything from food to legal issues. However, Hurbas’ group consistently seeks out the neediest families with the help of neighborhood community centers.
“We never thought we could do it. We still don’t believe we could do it!” she laughs.
Hurbas tries to stay optimistic in her work, saying that the families she meets and those to come will likely need support far into the future.