In the Words of Fatma Ürün: "The earthquakes turned me into a hero: I saved my husband from the rubbles"
Fatma and Hasan Ürün have been happily married for 33 years, living in Akbez province, Hatay. When the earthquakes struck 11 cities of Türkiye on the night of 6 February, Fatma found herself trapped under the rubbles with her husband. After making her way out, she bravely went back to save her husband.
Hasan is a retired government official who was working as a taxi driver until the earthquakes hit. His wife, Fatma, talks about the times before and after the earthquakes:
I am a housewife. I made savings for me and my family with my husband’s income in the best way that I could. I bought us a house, then I bought another one for my son. I have sacrificed a lot for this, I even wore the same blouse every day for years. In the end, I am proud that I never had to depend on anyone else but myself.
Before the earthquakes, we had a happy life. We used to have breakfast in the morning and go out for a stroll with our taxi, spend some time in nature. It all changed on the night of 6 February.
When the earthquakes struck, my husband and I were sleeping in our third-floor apartment. The building shook violently, and the sounds were as loud and terrifying as explosions. When it finally ended, everything was pitch black, and I felt trapped between the walls. After a while, I noticed a faint light in the rubble and used my nails to scratch a hole big enough to escape. To my surprise, I realized we were no longer on the third floor; the floors below us had collapsed, and I was outside.
I saw the destruction around me, and people were outside trying to survive. I called out to my husband, but he was nowhere to be found. People tried to calm me down and said they would find him, but I knew he needed me. So, I continued to shout until I heard his voice. He called out my name, and I heard him say he couldn't see anything. Using a stone, I hit the wall to help him follow the sound. When he got close, I opened enough space for him to escape, and we reunited. He is my partner for life, and I couldn't imagine living without him.
We lost everything we had that night, including our relatives, our house, our car, and our son's shop. Currently, I am living in a tent with my husband and son. It has been challenging to adapt to this new way of life. We are uncertain about what the future holds for us. Since the earthquakes, we have been residing in this temporary shelter. Once a container city is constructed, we will relocate there and stay for a year. We heard that safe buildings will be built in the region. Until then, we are doing our best to adjust and rebuild our lives.
For women and girls who are going through similar situations here, hygiene and security are essential. It's difficult to maintain these needs while living in a temporary settlement. Since the earthquake, I have been washing and wearing the same clothes, and I know that maintaining good hygiene is vital to avoid getting sick.
I've always been independent and self-sufficient, and I know that things will get better in time. I will continue to do everything I can for my husband and my son, no matter what life throws our way.
UN Women Türkiye is actively working on the ground against the devastating impacts of the earthquake on women and girls in coordination with public authorities, civil society, and UN agencies. If you would like to support UN Women’s efforts in the earthquake zone in Türkiye and help women, girls and their families who are in urgent need, please donate here.