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Sariye Sindy prepares food for an upcoming fundraiser for the survivors of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, in Kitchener, Ont., on Mar 16.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The organizer: Mo Markham

The pitch: Raising money for earthquake relief efforts in Turkey and Syria

For years one of Mo Markham’s favourite restaurants in her home town of Kitchener, Ont., was Queen Shawarma Turkish Cuisine.

The restaurant had to close in January and the owners – Sariye and Karim Sindy – made plans to open a stall in the Kitchener Market. Ms. Sindy used the short break to make a trip to Turkey with two of her daughters to visit relatives. They were in Gaziantep near the Syrian border on Feb. 6 when the earthquake struck. Ms. Sindy’s family lost their home and had to stay with friends in a nearby village. They have since relocated to a park where thousands of earthquake survivors are living in tents.

Ms. Sindy returned to Canada a few weeks ago and told Ms. Markham what had happened. “I just can’t imagine what that trauma is like,” Ms. Markham recalled. She’d lost her home in a fire last summer and remembered how people offered to help. “And then I thought, what would that have been like if everyone around me was in this disaster as well?,” she said. “What if there was nowhere for you to go stay, nobody there to help you?”

Ms. Markham volunteers with a local environmental group called KW VegFest and the Sindys had donated food for several fundraising events. When Ms. Sindy asked for help organizing an event to raise money for earthquake survivors, Ms. Markham didn’t hesitate. Together with the Grand River Friendship Society, the Intercultural Dialogue Institute and the Community Kitchen Co-operative, KW VegFest is holding a dinner at St. John’s Anglican Church on March 19, featuring food cooked by the Sindys. Donations will go to the Canadian Red Cross earthquake relief effort in Turkey and Syria. Contributions will also be accepted to help Ms. Sindy’s relatives.

Ms. Markham, 61, worries that public interest in the earthquake has faded, even though the need is still there. “I want to keep reminding people that, you know, this is still going on,” she said. “Because, it’s going to be years before they can rebuild.”