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Kitchener restaurant owner raises money for earthquake relief in native Turkiye

Mo Markham (red shirt, fifth from right) and Sariye Sindy (black coat, fourth from right) present the Red Cross with a cheque for money collected at their fundraising dinner. The cheque presentation took place at Kitchener City Hall on March 25, with several local politicians in attendance. (Karis Mapp/CTV Kitchener) Mo Markham (red shirt, fifth from right) and Sariye Sindy (black coat, fourth from right) present the Red Cross with a cheque for money collected at their fundraising dinner. The cheque presentation took place at Kitchener City Hall on March 25, with several local politicians in attendance. (Karis Mapp/CTV Kitchener)
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Just under $6,000 collected at a fundraising dinner in Kitchener will soon go overseas to support earthquake victims in Turkiye and Syria.

The money, raised at a dinner at St. John’s Anglican Church, was presented to the Red Cross Saturday afternoon at Kitchener City Hall.

Local restaurateur, Sariye Sindy, owner of Queen Shawarma Turkish Cuisine in Kitchener, came up with the idea for the event and prepared the food.

Sindy was visiting family in Turkiye when the quake struck on Feb. 6. She recalls waking up at 5 a.m. to the entire apartment building she was in shaking. Sindy and her family were on the fifth floor.

“It was very scary. From when it started, it almost took 10 minutes – the whole thing was shaking,” Sindy said.

When the tremors began a second time, she had to make a choice.

“I had to make a decision between my mom and my granddaughter. I grabbed my granddaughter, I ran downstairs.”

Sindy’s mom survived and is recovering in Turkiye, but Sindy says leaving her family behind and returning to Canada was difficult.

“I felt very bad when I left them behind me, I couldn’t feel O.K. to enjoy what I’m eating here, where I’m sleeping. I couldn’t relax,” she said.

Putting on the fundraising dinner was an important way for her to help in whatever way she could.

“Now I feel better, if we are doing as much as we can,” she explained.

Another one of the organizers, Mo Markham, said when she lost her home in fire last summer, the community stepped up to help her.

She hopes she can do the same for people displaced by the earthquake in Turkiye and Syria and is encouraging others to donate to the Red Cross.

“They really need us to be their neighbours right now,” Markham said. “It really means so much when you’re in that situation to have someone helping you out.”

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