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Rotary International president reviews Rotary humanitarian projects in Turkey

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Praises earthquake reconstruction projects
(ISTANBUL, Turkey - 8 March 2002) - As Turkey completes rebuilding efforts after the devastating earthquake of nearly three years ago, Rotary International remains strongly committed to reconstruction projects says Richard D. King, president of the international humanitarian organization. King, in Turkey to view humanitarian earthquake relief project sites, will travel to Istanbul and Ankara to meet with local Rotarians and view Rotary-supported medical, housing and educational programs. "My motto 'Mankind is our Business' was chosen because Rotary International is in the business of helping mankind. And the business of mankind involves Rotary International humanitarian service in every corner of the globe, including Turkey."

The 17 August 1999 earthquake left over 18,000 dead, 30,000 injured, 600,000 homeless and thousands of children orphaned. Some 115,000 buildings were destroyed as well. Damages were estimated at over US $40 billion. Immediately following the earthquake, Rotary sent out disaster relief notices to its 1.2 million members worldwide, quickly assessing needs and joining forces to begin implementing humanitarian assistance programs including:

  • A massive U.S. $2 million campaign, in collaboration with university and government officials, to rebuild the Kocaeli University Hospital. Sponsored by Rotary Clubs in Southwest Turkey, the hospital was renamed: "The Rotary Hospital of Koçaeli University."

  • Construction of the Isitme Engelliler Okulu School for Deaf Children.

  • Medical shipments to Turkey containing over US $500,000 worth of medical supplies and equipment including: hem dialysis machines, ventilators, operating tables and lamps, defibrillators, x-ray machines and videogastroscopic, EKG and Pre-natal equipment.

  • US $2 million in humanitarian grants for Turkish relief efforts, including ambulances, mobile health clinics, surgical equipment and supplies.
Earthquake relief efforts also include earthquake awareness and preparation programs. The Turkish Rotary Disaster Relief Group, believing that prevention and education can save lives, made a commitment to teach children about preventative measure in the event of a future earthquake. After creating a series of successful animated videos on the subject of earthquake readiness in Turkey, Rotarians translated them into English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese and various Hindu languages. They were then donated to various children's groups around the world.

"Rotary provides support for thousands and thousands of humanitarian projects in their communities in nearly 200 countries and geographical regions of the world. And since Rotary's inception in Turkey in 1957, the 189 clubs and 6,000 Rotary members in Turkey are no exception, actively contributing their time and skills to support educational, social, health and environmental humanitarian programs throughout Turkey," says King.

Additional humanitarian programs include:

  • Computers for the Semikler Lycee School in Izmir, Malkara; the Kemal Yurbilir hearing Handicap Primary School and the Yalora-Anatolian High School; Braille equipment for schools and sports equipment for the Polatli Disabled Children's School.

  • Medical equipment for Istanbul University and hospitals throughout Turkey including: The Izmit University Medical Faculty Hospital; the Numune, Capa, Haydarpasa Numune and Civril State Hospitals; the Gebze Lokman Hekin Vakfi Hospital; the Anatolian Hospital; the Aliaga Hospital; the Mother and Child Hospital in Sariyer and EEG equipment for the Bakirkdy Hospital Neurology Clinic.

  • Vocational training for children at the Ankara El Maoag Children Detention Center.

  • Vocational training for women in the Ankara region.
"Rotarians from all over the world have provided and continue to provide vital assistance to communities throughout Turkey," states Rotarian Vefik Koral of Istanbul. "In the spirit of service, we are committed to helping others."

Rotary International is one of the world's largest volunteer service organizations of business and professional leaders. Rotary is dedicated to providing humanitarian service, promoting high ethical standards in all vocations and building peace and goodwill in the world. There are approximately 1.2 million Rotarians who are members of more than 30,000 Rotary clubs in 163 countries.

For more information, contact Mary LaPlante at 847-866-3208 or Lauren Ziel at 847-424-5280.