Turkey: Distribution of Beef at the Muslim Festival

A hotel where 2 staff members of Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR JAPAN) were staying collapsed around 9:23pm on November 9th, 2011 (local time) after a 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey. Atsushi MIYAZAKI died beneath the rubbles, while Miyuki KONNAI survived with an injury that was not life-threatening. We would like to convey to his family our deepest condolences and prayers that he rest in peace.
The following report was e-mailed by KONNAI around 8 pm on November 9th, 2011 (local time).

November 6th, 2011- Miyuki KONNNAI (left) and Atsushi MIYAZAKI (right) of AAR JAPAN’s emergency relief team visited the hard-hit villages with bags of beef in their hands.

In Turkey, Kurban Bayrami (Id al-Adha) was held from November 6th to 9th, 2011During this period, which corresponds to the 4 days starting from the 10th day of December on the Islamic calendar, the rich purchase and butcher slaughter cattle and sheep as sacrifice to God and distribute the meat to the poor. The atmosphere is similar to Japan’s New Year's Day, with most of the public offices and shops in town being closed. People return home to celebrate this special day with their families and relatives. Airplanes and buses are extremely crowded due to those living abroad in places like Europe returning home.

November 6th, 2011- Atsushi MIYAZAKI (left) and Yumeka OTA (right) are heading to the disaster victims’ tents. A mountain range covered with snow is seen.
In the evening prior to the distribution day, we visited a livestock breeder and decided to purchase a cow that would yield 200 kg of meat, based on the recommendation of the owner. In the morning of the distribution day, the meat was butchered and packed by professionals. We drove to the suburban areas of Van City, where many people were living in tents. Families with 5 to 8 children are not rare here due to the relatively high birth rate in eastern Turkey. Thus, we decided to distribute 4 kg of meat to each of the 50 homes that we visited.
We were blessed with the opportunity to carry out our relief activities in Turkey during this special time of the year, and we decided to purchase one cattle to distribute its meat to those affected by the disaster that have been forced to live in tents.

November 6th, 2011- A man receiving the meat package gives a gesture of gratitude to Yumeka OTA (left) of AAR JAPAN.
“Bayramınız kutlu olsun!” (Congratulations Bayrami!)
On this day, we heard this phrase everywhere. We repeated this greeting as we went around the white tents that were set up by the Turkish Red Crescent Society, as well as blue vinyl ones that the people had built by themselves. Distributing snacks to the visitors is also one of the customs of Id al-Adha. Along with the meat, we brought a bag full of candy and chocolate and let the children take as much as they wanted. We also received lots of snacks in return during our visit.
The people who received the meat showed their appreciation by repeatedly saying “Thank you”, and some of the men placed their hands on their chests as a sign of their gratitude. Turkish people are known for their hospitality when welcoming guests. Even those staying inside the tents invited us inside and said, “Please come in. It is cold.”
The Voices of the People who Received Supplies
November 6th, 2011- Atsushi MIYAZAKI hands snacks to children inside a tent.
Mr. Celal Tugel (20) said, “Every day I live with anxiety because there are still aftershocks. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to celebrate this day because I don’t have an income at the moment, but I can have this meat for dinner thanks to the Japanese people. Thank you very much.” With a smile of relief, Demirhan Aslan (16) added, “It had taken a long time for government support to reach us. While others were in a festive mood for the celebration, I had practically given up thinking that we would be left out, so I’m very happy.”
Mr. Abdulkerim Tugel 40, who is living with his wife and 5 children in a tent about 500 meters away from his house that collapsed because of the quake, said, ”My children will be thrilled when they see this! I’ll prepare a delicious meal,” as he returned to his family, tightly holding the bag of meat.
In Turkish meals, bread that looks like a shortened and thickened version of a Japanese-style French baguette is always served. The people in this district normally chop up meat, fry it with vegetables, and eat it between slices of bread..
Distribution of a cattle by a foreign NGO during Id al-Adha seemed to be rare, and so our relief activities were picked up by the biggest government-managed news agency called  Anadolu ajansi Anatolia Agency, and also introduced nationally on television and newspapers though the transmission by the agency.

November 5th, 2011- During Id al-Adha, a cow is slain and everyone enjoys the meat. Pictured with the cow from the left are Miyuki KONNAI, a volunteer of the local partner organization, Yumeka OTA, and a local farmer.

November 6th, 2011- Smiles were seen on faces of the people who had thought that they could not be able to participate in the celebration.

November 6th, 2011- The temperature reaches below freezing point in the morning and at night. Miyuki KONNAI hands a bag of meat to an evacuee.

November 6th, 2011- Atsushi MIYAZAKI and Miyuki KONNAI are interviewed by the Turkish government-managed new agency inside a tent.

Miyuki KONNAI, AAR JAPAN Tokyo Office
Joined AAR JAPAN’s Tokyo office in October, 2011. Developed an interest in Turkey, a country bridging the East and West, as a university student, and continued studies at the graduate level. Investigated topics such as immigration and the nation’s application to the EU, and conducted field research in Turkey and northern Cyprus. Joined AAR JAPAN after spending 5.5 years as a newspaper reporter. (Born in Fukushima Prefecture)