Project/Icons / advocateProject/Icons / appealsProject/Icons / blog postProject/Icons / documentsProject/Icons / educateProject/Icons / healthProject/Icons / media releaseIcons/moneyIcons/moneyx2Project/Icons / petitionIcons/Ionic/Social/social-pinterestProject/Icons / protectProject/Icons / quoteProject/Icons / supportProject/Icons / volunteerProject/Icons / water

Resilience amidst ruin in Türkiye

23 February 2024, Impact of Our Work

One year after devastating earthquakes, a family finds joy 

It hasn’t been an easy road for Tülay* and her two children, Cihan* and Hilal* from Türkiye. 

Both children are hard of hearing and had cochlear implants fitted at a young age. When they broke, Tülay and her husband had no money to replace them. For more than two years, the children couldn’t hear, had trouble learning, and became distant from their friends. 

“They were always inside. I was afraid because they didn't have hearing devices. I thought they'd get hit by a car,”  Tülay remembers. Cihan (11) and Hilal (16) couldn’t understand their family or friends and became withdrawn, spending hours alone in their rooms. 

Then 12 months ago, the family's home was rocked by two massive earthquakes that struck Türkiye and Syria. Over 50,000 were killed and 2.7 million people displaced, including Tülay and her children. 

The dual earthquakes killed over 50,000 people in Türkiye and Syria and injured a further 100,000.
Photo: Jordi Matas / Save the Children.

With their home uninhabitable, she and her husband struggled to meet the family’s basic needs - let alone being able to replace the implants the children so desperately required. 

Tülay describes how difficult it was to watch her children struggle. “After the earthquake, my kids didn't go to school because they didn't have devices. They couldn't understand, hear or speak. It was a big problem both for me and for their teachers,”  she says. 

Help at hand

When we dropped a care package of household goods and toys at Tülay’s temporary home, we met Cihan and noticed his difficulties speaking. 

Tülay described the challenges her children faced to us. At the time, she and her husband had saved just enough money for one implant and were struggling to decide which child to get fitted first.

After speaking with the family, we supported Tülay to get hearing devices for Cihan and Hilal so they could reconnect with their friends and get back to school.  We picked up the bill so the family could instead use their precious savings to rebuild their lives after the disaster. 

Cihan, Hilal and their siblings lost their home in the 2023 earthquakes hit Türkiye.
Photo: Ayşe Nur Gençalp / Save the Children.

Three months since their hearing implants were fitted, the children have experienced dramatic improvements. They’re happier than they’ve been in years.  

Tülay says the devices have had a huge impact on Cihan and Hilal’s quality of life. Both children can hear and communicate with other family members, and love spending time together. “My children are very happy,”  she says. “They get what I say, and I get what they tell me.” 

Tülay’s middle child, Yasemin,* says, “my sister had her device put on and she's able to talk now.”  Describing her little brother, she adds “before the devices were fitted, we couldn't understand each other very well. Now we draw pictures together, play Jenga, and when we play games, he is very smart and shares everything with me.” 

Now I can leave my kids to be free. They're able to play, go out and talk with their friends.


Cihan is delighted to be able to hear, play and learn again.
Photo: Ayşe Nur Gençalp / Save the Children.

Long road to recovery 

While things have dramatically improved, the earthquakes have left a mark on the family that’s still palpable one year on. Displacement, disruption to routine and financial pressures are a heavy burden for families facing compounding crises like these. 

Recognising the difficulties Tülay has experienced, we connected her with a psychologist to help treat her anxiety. She was grateful for the support given in her first session. “It went well. Sometimes you talk to someone about your problems, and they get you,”  Tülay says. “It did me really good… We'll meet and talk again.” 

Tülay is determined to support her children to study and help others in the future. “My kids are my number one priority,”  she says. 

And with the recent addition of the cat 'Gece' to the family, who shares a unique bond with the children due to her hearing impairment, their home is filled with even more joy and love.

The family has adopted a hearing-impaired cat, bringing new joy into their lives.
Photo: Ayşe Nur Gençalp / Save the Children.

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership. 

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Stay up to date on how Save the Children is creating a world where every child has a safe and happy childhood