I arrived in Ankara in the beginning of February 2000 in the midst of a very cold winter. I was able to secure an furnished apartment of a family that were on their winter break. Our Iranian friend moved in with me.
Magda and the children stayed behind to do a road trip and to share our vision for the work in Turkey with friends and family in different congregations. We saw ourselves as God’s Ambassadors in Turkey, serving the Turkish church. We wanted to equip Turkish church leaders and believers to make the indigenous Turkish Protestant churches self-sufficient, self-evangelizing, self-theologizing and and self – caring. Working with the International and Turkish Churches in Ankara to serve the earthquake affected region opened many opportunities to serve the Turkish church and the Turkish nation.
Duzce is the capitol city of the Duzce province and in 1999 it had almost 75000 inhabitants. Almost 70% of all the buildings in Duzce were damaged and had to be torn down. Due to the harsh winter conditions, the Turkish government acted by replacing tents with container homes. These where 27 sq.m ship containers turned into two room homes. Whole container neighborhoods were established. One of my first duties was to receive 148 container homes donated by World Relief. They were allocated an area to place the container homes and early one morning in February 2000 the containers were received and put into place. My Iranian friend was my translator and trusted assistant and he helped us to establish good relationships with the local authorities and the people alike.
During those days the first relief and development project initiated by the Earthquake Relief Committee started to take shape. World Relief asked the Protestant churches of Ankara to provide social services to the 1200 people who moved into these container homes. We planned to have a Library, and daily Children’s programs, English Language classes, Computer Skills training, and a Women’s club. To render these services we had to recruit volunteers and buy containers and equip them for the volunteers to live in. We also searched for a piece of land close to the container neighborhood where we could establish a Social Services Center. After obtaining the necessary permissions we were able to buy a 48 sq.m container to be used as general activity center.
The first official ceremony was the hand over of the container suburb to the Office of the Governor of Duzce province. On that day volunteers from the Protestant churches in Ankara came and presented a program for the many children in the area that was appreciated by the children and parents alike.
At the beginning of March 2000 we were able to invite a South African couple and a Brazilian lady to move to Duzce. The South Africa couple was asked to be the managers of the Social Services Center. They all moved into the staff container homes. The wife of the South African manager was skilled to teach English and arts and crafts. The Brazilian lady was a trained children’s worker. Our Iranian friend also moved to Duzce to be the infrastructure manager. I was driving the distance between Ankara and Duzce twice a week – 300km one way.
With the infra-structure and personnel in place we were ready to start rendering services from the new general activity center!