Father, son join Türkiye rescue ops Mr Afzal Motiwala (left) hands over parcels to quake victims in Türkiye recently

Africa Moyo Deputy News editor

Some Zimbabweans have travelled to Türkiye to join rescue efforts following the devastating earthquake that also affected northwestern Syria.

By last night, more than 29 695 had been killed in Türkiye, while over 3 500 were killed in Syria, following last Monday’s two consecutive earthquakes with a magnitude of 7,5 and 7,8 on the Richter scale.

Touched by the plight of the Turkish people affected by the disaster, Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed firm, MedTech Holdings chief executive, Mr Afzal Motiwala and his son, Zain, sought clearance to travel to Türkiye to participate in the search, rescue and recovery operation.

Mr Motiwala is also the founder and leader of the “Nosh Foundation”, an organisation founded in 2020 to eradicate hunger throughout Zimbabwe, as well as the running of orphanages in Harare and other rural areas. He is also well-equipped with the skills learnt at the Australian State Emergency Services (SES).

Again, both the father and son are equipped with first aid training, making them a highly-effective and resourceful team.

In an interview from Türkiye yesterday, Mr Motiwala said: “Our team have travelled to assist in the search, rescue and recovery operation of people who have suffered in the earthquake.

“We landed in Istanbul (last Wednesday) and immediately after securing the necessary food items, clothing, generators and search and rescue equipment, drove for 14 hours through the night and in sub-zero temperatures to the affected areas.

“Our teams are trained and well equipped, yet we are feeling the harsh temperatures. We can just imagine how much the displaced are suffering. We are travelling in convoy to Hatay and Gaziantep with aid to the affected areas and are personally involved in the distribution.” Mr Motiwala said he was working closely with local and international NGOs and called upon the Zimbabwean community, NGOs and other organisations to help the Turkish people.

“We call upon our local community to come together to support our brothers and sisters abroad in these trying times,” he said.

“Our gratitude goes out to all those who have donated selflessly in whatever form.

“We are humbled by the overwhelming support and without you, this mission would not have been possible. “Please continue supporting this cause as the casualties are adding up and families have been torn apart.”

Mr Motiwala said he had been described as a hero, but rejected the tag, saying heroes were those supporting them with messages, phone calls and various forms of support.

“Be the hero that these people need,’ he said.

“Be their light in the darkness. Let us show the world that in Zimbabwe our pockets might be small, but our hearts are big. From Zimbabwe to Turkiye, the distance might be far, but our souls are near.”

Zain said his most heart-rending moment so far was when he came across a young girl, the size of someone who has just started school, who pleaded for food for herself and her family of eight.

Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Turkey, Mr Alfred Mutiwazuka, yesterday confirmed that some Zimbabweans were helping in the rescue operations.

“We don’t have any of our nationals reported as dead or injured,” he said.

“The Embassy has in its custody eight Zimbabwean students who were directly affected by the earthquake. They are traumatised, but grateful that they are alive. As for relief efforts by our own nationals, yes we do have some here.”

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