It is always hard to know how to react to disasters like the fallout from the earthquake in south east Turkey and Syria. But last week we sat down as a team and decided that even though anything we do will just be a drop in the ocean, that should not stop us. We must do something.
On a personal note, I spent several weeks cycling through south eastern Turkey and Syria a decade ago and the people there made it one of the most enjoyable sections of my ride to Australia. My heart breaks at the sight of towns like Iskenderun and Idlib razed to the ground.
Some of us at The Slow Cyclist have spent several months in Turkey over the past year or so. We’ve fallen in love with the Taurus Mountains north of Antalya, forged strong friendships with all sorts of people there. And although the region we work in is hundreds of miles away from those hit by the earthquake, our love for the country meant we could not watch and do nothing.
First-hand accounts from our friends and colleagues in the country have confirmed that the situation in Gaziantep and south eastern Turkey is staggeringly bad. Many of our local team are originally from the worst hit region and some, tragically, have lost family members and friends. To their immense credit, they have been helping with the rescue effort.
This disaster certainly puts everything in perspective…. running cycling holidays, for example. But we do what we do, and as I say, we’ve been trying to think of ways to help.
In the first instance, we have decided that while we would normally give 1% of our revenue to causes aligned with our values, this year for anyone travelling to Turkey with us, that will rise to 3%. As for where the funds will go exactly, we are liaising with various partners and colleagues and will report back soon.
Secondly, we are looking at ways we can help with fundraising later in the year. It might be that we bring The Slow Cyclist community together to raise money for a specific organisation helping with what is bound to be an ongoing humanitarian tragedy.
If anyone reading this has a good idea then we’d love to hear it.