Greenwood Events
Thursday, December 16th. 1999
Students helping earthquake victims
By Bill McCauley
Greenwood Mennonite School elementary and middle school students are raising money to buy tents for Turkish earthquake victims. The effort comes as a result of a recent visit to the school by Ron Embleton, who, as a former teacher of English in Turkey, witnessed the destruction.
Visiting the school Nov. 1, Embleton, a graduate of the school, showed pictures and told students about the hardships of earthquake survivors. He cited the acute need for tents that are suitable for the winter.
"We feel we are racing the clock," he said. "Winter is right around the corner and nights are uncomfortably cold," he said.
Embleton told the students that the earthquake on Aug. 17, and subsequent after-shocks, resulted in a loss of 13,500 lives and made 500,000 homeless. The Mennonite Church participation is part of a broader Protestant group effort to show the Muslim world that Christians care about them.
Embleton said that in addition to the cold, northwestern Turkey also experiences 18 inches of rain a month during the winter. To be comfortable, the tents cannot be placed on the cold, wet ground but instead are put on platforms.
Finnish-designed and Turkish-manufactured tents are the solution, he said. Each tent costs $750.
The original appeal was for each family with children at G.M.S. to donate $10 toward purchase of tents.
But since then, elementary and middle school students have adopted the purchase of tents as their annual Christmas project.
Every year the school has a tradition of giving to needy persons, near or far away, in lieu of a gift exchange. The students are endeavoring to raise $1,500, enough for two tents. Money earned by the student government organization through the sale of ice cream sundaes during lunch will be added to the total.
Each homeroom has its fund raising success measured on a poster.
Large posters left by Embleton depicting an aged Turkish man standing in front of destroyed buildings serve as a reminder of the victims' plight.
Following graduation from the Mennonite School in 1980, Embleton attended Rosedale Bible College in Ohio. He became a missionary in Albuquerque, N.M., and then was assistant minister at a church in Ohio before going to Turkey.
He has been there for three years, though at the time of the earthquake he was in Ohio with his family preparing to return. He has made several trips back to Turkey. In the states he is active in visiting churches and schools. Embleton's goal is to raise money and heighten awareness of the plight of earthquake victims in Turkey.
Said fifth-grader Megan Landis of her reason for wanting to help, "They have next to nothing so we need to help them out."
Said first-grader Alan Landis, "There are a lot of kids who have lost moms and dads and they need a place to live and food."