Oxford students moving boxes to transport to Turkey
Oxford students moving boxes to transport to Turkey

Student Stories: Supporting earthquake relief for Turkey and Syria

Oxford University students and staff have played an integral role in supporting the relief efforts following the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. Kubilay Küçük finished his DPhil here this year, and has reflected on how Oxford's community worked together during that time. 

First response 

"From the very first day of the disaster, we worked with Oxford students to mobilise resources and provide immediate assistance. We rented vans to gather donations from the local community, established multiple collection points at Somerville College, St Antony’s College, Kellogg College, and the University’s Islamic Society.

Oxford students helping with earthquake relief for Turkey and Syria.Oxford students helping with earthquake relief for Turkey and Syria.
Oxford students helping with earthquake relief for Turkey and Syria.Oxford students helping with earthquake relief for Turkey and Syria.

Student support efforts emerged 

"Over 100 student volunteers, worked tirelessly for four weeks to categorise, organise, and pack donated goods into individual packages. We implemented a 'military-inspired' management structure to lead our student volunteers, who physically worked so hard across the month."

Support of Oxford's colleges 

"The staff at St Antony’s and Somerville College provided unwavering support throughout the month-long campaign. Our relief campaign took over a month and we felt supported by them at all times. We can’t thank all our volunteers, University staff, students and community members enough. Porters and college staff also acknowledged the fast, disciplined, and clean work of all of our volunteers."

Boxes of donations for the Turkey and Syria earthquakes reliefBoxes of donations for the Turkey and Syria earthquakes relief

Community donations  

"Many colleges, departments and hospitals brought us donations. For example, New College donated more than ten electric heaters and the Nuffield Hospital brought us all of their donations already packed. Local shops in Oxford and hundreds of Oxford's wider community members donated numerous goods, with many local manufacturers donating a range of new products as well." 

"In-kind donations included tents, electric heaters, electric generators, mobile toilets, sleeping bags, packed food and drinks, new clothes (male, female, children and baby), hygiene products, baby products and blankets. These were some of the emergency and priority items.” 


Pallet of earthquake relief donations for Turkey and Syria.Pallet of earthquake relief donations for Turkey and Syria.

Collaboration across UK universities  

"We collaborated with a total of 20 other UK universities, and we supported each other’s’ campaigns during this time. These relief movements helped us to establish a new network channel, rapidly connecting many UK universities and student societies." 

Warehouse of earthquake relief donations.Warehouse of earthquake relief donations.

An alternative supply chain

"The supply chains in Turkey and Syria were disrupted due to the earthquakes, leaving more than ten million people in urgent need of supplies. By focusing on in-kind material donations, Oxford students were able to raise funds equivalent to hundreds of thousands of British pounds, offering a unique solution to address the crisis. Despite the immense physical efforts required, four substantial batches of material aid were delivered immediately to the earthquake-affected areas."

Coordinated efforts  

"From Oxford alone, we sent total of three trucks and one cargo airplane with all of our gathered donations in hundreds of boxes. Without these in-kind donation efforts, it would not have been possible to make as much of an impact as we did. Our campaign enabled a unique way of raising funds, and we carefully managed all items to be packed for delivery." 

"The efforts of Oxford's community were recognised by the Turkish Government, with officers from the Ministry of Interior, the Embassy, and the Consulate providing close support."

Final reflections   

"We want to thank all our volunteers for their incredible support. We went through very difficult moments in Turkey and Syria. Having the genuine support of Oxford's Community and the University was extremely sentimental, historic and impactful. All of the kind donations reached earthquake areas and we recognise the great effort put into the campaign by our volunteers, contributors and donors. 

Read the University's response to the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.