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Author: Abdulla Sert
Text Duration: ca. 8 minutes
Title: An Interview with Mr. Roshan Cordeiro - The Priest of the Mersin St. Antoine Catholic Church
Father Roshhan Cordeiro Source: Abdulla Sert
An Interview with Mr. Roshan Cordeiro - The Priest of the Mersin St. Antoine Catholic Church
(Father Roshan Corderio comes from India and has been serving here for 4 years in Turkey. He speaks fluent Turkish)
There are three main reasons why I wanted to do this interview;
1. To introduce the team of priest and volunteers working with true love and patience.
2. To share up-to-date information about earthquake survivors mostly from Antioch Province, to whom the team is still trying the best to provide all kinds of support, including shelter.
3. After reading the interview, to ask you to think again and ask yourself, "What can I do, how can I help?"
I had the opportunity to look at the accommodation, food and social and psychological services you are providing to the survivors of the earthquakes. Most of them come from Antioch province and are now staying in your church's guest house. What struck me was that all these services were regular and the guests played an active role in running the services. What approach do you have to maintain this order that I noticed?
Thanks for your words. We approach earthquake victims, from 7 to 70, who are in need and take shelter in our church, on the basis of "unconditional love", without making any discrimination based on ethnicity, faith or other issues. We share all the facilities of our church with those who arrive, on the basis of human equality. However, as the priest of the church, I apply the rules that will ensure that those who are staying in our guesthouse, which has a capacity of 80 people, comply with the "common social life" culture, and I try to persuade the guests with a humanistic approach to obey the rules, from the first day they arrive here. I spend all of my time at the Church Complex and do my best to comply with the rules I set. I also ensure that the earthquake survivors, staying here, participate directly in the works that need to be done. Thus, we ensure the orderliness is in place as you stated previously. After all, everyone staying here acts on the basis of respect for the rights of others, and they do their best to do contribute to the cleanliness and the order of the common areas.
Undoubtedly, it is important to make these services financially and morally sustainable. In this sense, how long do you think you can use your guesthouse for these functions without any problems?
We are all in a difficult situation due to the latest earthquakes in Turkey. All of us have to deal with the consequences of the disaster. Therefore, all of us, including non-governmental organizations, should contribute to healing the wounds of the earthquakes. Only then, the overall load become lighter to the society. In this sense, the smiles of the people we help are an indescribable source of happiness for me. There are currently 65 survivors here at the moment and we are providing them almost everything they need. Undoubtedly, this has a cost. I foresee that we will be able to provide our services for 3 more months with our current facilities. After 3 months, we will decide whether our services will continue or end by looking at our income and donation status.
There is a beautiful relacing garden within the curch complex source: Abdulla Sert
Can you summarize what you provide to the guests?
We provide each person with three meals a day, tea, coffee, showers, laundry and bed service, unconditionally but with direct cooperation of the people.
The Mess Hall source:Abdulla Sert
Starting from day one, I created a file for each earthquake survivor who came here. I made a list and started with the name and surname of each earthquake survivor, where he/she came from, when and so on, and recorded the current status. I called guests, one by one and asked them to be responsible form the newcomers so that they could come out of the traumas of the earthquake. I ensured that the existing 3 floors of the guesthouse were operational and checked regularly. I made sure that the general cleaning was shared by everyone.
Laundry terrace for earthquake survivors source: Abdulla Sert
Laundry source: Abdulla Sert
A guesthouse room where 7 people can stay together source: Abdulla Sert
People are allowed to stay together with little friends in the guesthouse source:Abdulla Sert
We arranged a room on the third floor as a toy room for the children. I gave the children the responsibillity to play with the toys available there and then to put the toys back in their places.
Toys for the children source:Abdulla Sert
For the youngs staying here, I try to make arrangements for them to go to the existing shopping malls in Mersin to spend some time and clear their minds a little. In addition, with the support of local official institutions, we have provided uninterrupted medical and health services. Another important support we provide is psychological counseling and treatment to help earthquake victims overcome their traumas. Thanks to the volunteer psychologists from abroad who joined us by responding to our call. They provide psychological help to guests in need, every day.
Psychological support is provided to earthquake victims who spend time in the Church Garden source: Abdulla Sert
In terms of sustainability, what are your regular income sources for the continuation of the existing services for 3 months and beyond?
We can divide our income sources into two. One is financial resources such as food, food and clothing from our local community, and the other is the regular donations of CARITAS, a voluntary charity supported by the Vatican.
Thank you for spending your valuable for the interview. Do you have something to add finally?
After the earthquake covering 10 provinces, people, non-governmental organizations and relevant state institutions continue to heal the wounds of the earthquake and I think they should. We hear that some survivors still can't get their dead out of the rubble. We will continue to provide our financial resources to this to overcome this great tragedy with donations that we hope will continue in the future. As the representative of the Catholic faith here, I will continue to pray for those who lost their lives and for the earthquake survivors.
Photos and essay by Abdulla Sert (Amateur photo-journalist and photographer, born in Antioch, Turkey, and focuses on Antioch’s Culture and history. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.abdullasert.com)
Contact to Mr. Roshan Cordeiro: email@example.com
Requests should be addressed to: Project Peacemaker e.V., Ms. Daniela Hofmann, Rechte Brandstr. 34, 86167 Augsburg, Phone. + 49 89 24 88 300 50, firstname.lastname@example.org