Earthquakes wreak havoc, JRS and WJ offer support


Photo courtesy of NPR

People and emergency rescue crews remove someone on a stretcher from one of hundreds of collapsed buildings.

Southern Turkey and Northern Syria were hit by a series of earthquakes on February 6, the strongest of which registered a 7.8 magnitude, causing widespread devastation. The death toll of the natural disaster, as reported by the Associated Press, was nearly 50,000 people. Buildings, homes, and other structures were left in heaps of rubble as countless grieving survivors dealt with the aftermath.

As a response to the catastrophe, countries around the world immediately sent aid to support the affected regions. The Walsh Jesuit community also acted by initiating a fundraising effort to assist in the relief efforts.

The Jesuit Refugee Club at Walsh Jesuit organized a dress-down day on February 15 to encourage students to donate at least $3.00 to support the cause. Mrs. Trena Marks-Pacetti, a theology teacher and moderator of the club, reported that the event raised $2,800, which was above the average amount raised on a typical dress-down day.

Walsh Jesuit students come in early to collect money for the dress down day to benefit earthquake victims. The money will be given to Jesuit Relief Services as they provide direct aid. (Madelyn Haran)

Senior Zuzanna Penman expressed her appreciation for the fundraising efforts, sharing, “It made me feel really good to directly give to those in such dire need. Seeing it on the news made me feel so devastated by all the lives lost and cities destroyed. Getting to wear comfortable clothes and donating to an important cause seems like the least I can do to help others feel better.”

Working with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is a natural fit for the school community. Explaining the JRS mission, Mrs. Marks-Pacetti shared, “The JRS was started by Fr. Pedro Arrupe as a way for Catholics who could show their support for more resources such as housing, shelter, food, and medicine.” She added that the organization raises funds and provides physical support to help rebuild communities affected by disasters while also advocating for marginalized communities’ rights. The club at Walsh Jesuit models its mission on that of JRS and looks to imbue the same values of service to the greater school community. reported that an estimated $84 billion is needed to rebuild Turkey and Syria’s infrastructure and economies following the earthquakes. The funds are divided into three categories: $70.8 billion for repairing thousands of homes, $10.4 billion for the loss of national income, and $2.9 billion for the loss of working days.

This map shows the approximate areas of greatest impact and destruction from the earthquakes. (Photo courtesy of CDC)

Despite its modest fundraising efforts, Walsh Jesuit still provided a meaningful contribution toward the rebuilding and care of the affected communities. Mrs. Marks-Pacetti emphasized that donating money is an easy way to help rebuild societies affected by the earthquake, adding that “there’s been so much destruction that schools have to be rebuilt, for example.”

The school’s efforts may seem small compared to the magnitude of the disaster, but WJ has made an impact on the lives of those affected by the earthquakes. Members of the community are encouraged to continue supporting the cause in any way they can. Please consider contributing further to JRS’s relief efforts at their website.