Turkish barber’s quick thinking gets boxes of aid off to quake zone

February 24th, 2023 11:45 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Sukru Joe Atalay with some of the items donated.

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WITHIN days of two major earthquakes hitting Turkey and Syria, two vans filled with humanitarian supplies were on the way from West Cork to the Turkish Embassy in Dublin.

The first quake hit Turkey at 4am last Monday week and by 9am, as he was going to work at his Hairport Barbers in Skibbereen’s Main Street, Sukru Joe Atalay received a personally reassuring call from home.

Although none of his family were affected, Joe was determined to do what he could to help some of the millions displaced, so he set up an appeal.

Neighbouring businessmen, like Richard Thornhill, lent their support by gathering items donated at Hackett’s Bar in Schull, while more volunteers turned up to help fill and label countless boxes.

The first van, with over 100 boxes, was taken to Dublin by Jim Kennedy of Atlantic Sea Kayaking. A second van left on Tuesday.

Such was the generous response Joe had to put up a sign saying  they couldn’t take any more donations. 

Joe’s neighbour Bernard O’Brien allowed them to use his property for storage and another neighbouring business, Sean Murray Fashions, also contributed generously.

The barber, who has been living here for 20 years, and is married with four children, said people ‘donated from their hearts’.

Joe told The Southern Star that his friends in Turkey have been following their efforts on Facebook. 

‘They have asked us to send you all their heartfelt thanks for your generosity. It will make a difference.’

NCBI Bantry has also been taking donations at its store in Wolfe Tone Square.

‘I was watching the news and just felt like I needed to do something,’ said Clodagh McHale, manager at the store. ‘It’s such a tragedy and I thought that with the help of the community we can at least try to help in some way.’

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