British aid worker says it’s a privilege to help earthquake survivors

Joe English with a boy in Turkey

Joe English with a boy in Turkey (Image: Unicef/PA)

A British aid worker said he feels privileged to be helping children after the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria – but fears for their mental health.

Unicef’s Joe English, 35, works with young people who lost their homes after the 7.8 magnitude quake on February 6.

“I can walk, I can get on a plane at the end of this trip,” he said. “A lot of these families can’t do that; this is her life.’

Mr English, originally from west London, arrived in Gaziantep, Turkey, ten days after the quake struck.

After a second earthquake on February 21, he went to northern Syria. Unicef ​​has provided drinking water but Mr English fears the hardship caused by the disaster could have long-term repercussions.

“We’re doing what we can to reach children with mental health support, to give them safe spaces to play, color and be with their friends – just be a kid again,” he said.

Many Syrian children have been displaced by the civil war that began in 2011.

Displaced children in southern Turkey

Displaced children in southern Turkey (Photo: Unicef/PA)

“I spoke to an 11-year-old yesterday: his whole life has been marked by conflict and displacement,” said Mr. English.

Fundraising in the UK is vital to Unicef’s work, he added. To learn more, visit

The daughters of the pregnant mother keep asking when they can go home

A pregnant mother forced to live on the streets after the earthquake says her daughters keep asking when they can go home. Aalaa, who now shares Unicef ​​shelter with children Mona, four, and Ritaj, three, says she sings to them at night to keep them from crying. Her home in Jableh, Syria, was leveled by the quake.

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Justin Scacco

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