“I REMEMBER the screams”: A part-Turkish Aberystwyth woman has launched an appeal for child earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria - and opens up on her own experience of natural disasters in the region.
Ponterwyd businesswoman Sam Rowlands owns Foresters Glamping Retreats and works as a community champion for Tesco.
But she is juggling her responsibilities with organising a huge fundraising push for the victims of the high-magnitude earthquake which struck eastern Turkey and western Syria a fortnight ago.
Nearly 40,000 people have been killed as thousands more remain missing – while entire communities have been displaced or rendered homeless.
Ms Rowlands lived in Istanbul when an earthquake of a similar magnitude hit the province of Izmit in 1999, officially killing 19,000 people.
She said: “I remember vividly to this date, grabbing my baby and running out of the apartment building with all my sisters screaming!
“We took nothing and left everything behind! The noise of the trembling buildings, the noise of the cracks in the walls, the glass in the kitchen shattering, screaming and chanting people, and the silent cry of people looking for their relatives within seconds of the earthquake, still rings in my ears to this date!
“In between many aftershocks, everyone was trying their hardest to get back into their properties desperate to get... whatever they can, whilst risking their lives!”
Ms Rowlands says the memory of the earthquake still haunts her and means she can empathise with the horror people are experiencing now.
On a holiday in Bodrum in 2017 she experienced her second earthquake when she was with her two ‘traumatised’ daughter who were aged only six and 19. She says is still afflicted with nightmares about the earthquakes she experienced.
Ms Rowlands has launched a fundraising page with a target of £5,000 which is particularly directed towards repairing the lives of children affected by the catastrophic natural disaster.
“I am now fundraising to help the children - like my own - who will be traumatized by this devastating disaster,” she said.
“Children of the earthquake will need a safe home and shelter and will need medical help as well as professional counselling to lead better lives without fear!
“They will need light clothing, fans, more water, shower, all deceased will need proper burials... Turkey is still living with this devastating disaster and becoming one as a nation as they have no choice!
“Whilst Syria has conflict within and not necessarily getting the help that the people need in certain areas!
“Turkey and Syria will start to get warm rapidly and will soon be very hot as summer approaches once the state of emergency for three months is over!
“Children and women will be exposed to poverty and possible exploitation which I have almost faced myself but was lucky enough to escape.”
The money she raises will go to ‘trusted’ Turkish charity AFAD.