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Vigil held at UNLV for victims of earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

About 50 people gathered Wednesday night at UNLV for a candlelight vigil in honor of the victims of earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

The group gathered in front of the College of Hospitality building for about an hour starting around 5 p.m. Many held Turkish flags both large and small.

Ezgi Ozdemir helped organize the vigil with UNLV faculty members, including her husband, Ozgur Ozdemir. They are from Turkey and have family still living in Turkey.

“We are far away. The only thing that we can do is to fundraise, to create awareness,” she said.

On Feb. 6, magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 earthquakes struck nine hours apart in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria. More than 39,000 people have died, according to The Associated Press.

Ezgi Ozdemir is a volunteer for Bridge to Turkiye Fund, a nonprofit based in the United States that supports organizations in Turkey helping victims of the earthquakes.

She said her family does not live near the region where the earthquake struck in Turkey.

“For us it doesn’t really change much. All the Turkish people have been devastated since the event,” she said. “We’ve been in shock.”

The group gathered around a vase filled with white roses. Red roses were laid on the ground next to several flameless candles. Some of the candles were placed in the shape of the crescent and star found on the Turkish flag.

“I’m just thankful for the support that we have seen from all the countries, and I think people should be showing the same amount of support for Syria as well,” she said.

Leading up to the vigil, Ezgi Ozdemir wasn’t sure how she would feel. After the vigil, she said she felt emotional.

“I felt really great because seeing us as a community uniting as one was just great,” she said. “We (showed) that we can lean on each other; we can lean on our community and stand up for each other as one.”

Donations can be made online.

Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter.

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