Turkish KCU student reflects on earthquake disaster

By Haley Reardon Mar 1, 2023
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When a devastating earthquake struck parts of Turkey and Syria in February, third-year Student Doctor Elif Diricanli wanted, no, needed to help. But how?

As a Turkish citizen living in the United States, Diricanli is far away from her family, friends and country.

She has juggled the demands of medical school while trying to wrap her mind around an unspeakable tragedy: 50,000 people killed, more than two million displaced and at least 115,000 injured.

“When the earthquake hit, it reminded me how difficult it is being so far away from my loved ones while I’m here in the United States pursuing my dream of becoming a physician. If I could be there, I could do something—render basic first-aid or distribute food and water. It’s a difficult feeling of helplessness,” said Diricanli.

Though she cannot use her hands to help her homeland, Diricanli can use her voice. She hopes to encourage support for relief efforts. Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF), a not-for-profit organization based in New York City, is the leading U.S. community foundation for high-impact social investments dedicated to Turkish and Turkish-American communities. Hamdi Ulukaya, the Turkish born CEO of Chobani Yogurt, has pledged a match of all donations up to $1 million made through TPF. Diricanli asks anyone who can help, to please click here.

Focusing on her academics and clinic rotations in West Palm Beach, Florida, has provided a distraction from the news and reminded her that someday she will be in a position to do more. Patients, fellow KCU students and residents ask her frequently how she’s doing and that, she says, helps immensely. “People are showing me how much they care about me and the people of Turkey. It’s wonderful—but at the same time it makes me very emotional,” said Diricanli.

Currently, she plans to pursue obstetrics and gynecology as a specialty when she begins residency. While she wishes to practice and remain in the U.S., she would like to travel home often and provide care to Turkish communities.

“Even though my heart breaks for my country, I am so very proud of the resiliency and strength the people of Turkey have demonstrated to the world,” Diricanli added. “This is a difficult time, but brighter days will come.”

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