In early 2018, a series of photos made international news. An elderly man stood in the charred ruins of his house, clutching his beloved kitten, the only thing, besides the man himself, that had survived the fire. What eventually happened to the pair? We have an update! But first, let’s remind ourselves what happened.
A Terrible Fire
83-year-old Ali Meşe was living in the village of Ordular, Turkey. Turkey straddles two continents, Asia and Europe. Ordular village is located on the Asian side, about halfway between Istanbul and Ankara.
This part of Turkey has a cold, semi-arid climate, and winters can be severe. The fire started when Meşe attempted to light his heating stove with gasoline. It’s a dangerous proposition under the best conditions, as you can imagine. Especially in a wood frame house, like Meşe’s. And in this case, it led to tragedy. An explosion ensued, and took Meşe’s entire house, and all his possessions with it.
Meşe is an animal lover, and his home was home to three cats and numerous hens, upon which Meşe had depended for eggs. A neighbor called the fire brigade, and, fortunately, they were able to save Meşe, his wife, and their son.
There was another survivor, as well: a kitten named Sarikiz, which means “Blonde Girl” in Turkish. Meşe’s other two cats, and thirteen of his fourteen hens, perished.
Here is that viral video of Meşe and Sarikiz, right after the fire.
Faith in Humanity Restored
Doctors treated Meşe and his family, and they recovered well, with help from Red Crescent. (Red Crescent also brought gifts for the kitty.) Not only that, but people around the world stepped up to help them.
First, internet well-wishers set up a gofundme campaign to help the family rebuild. In addition, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın contacted the governorate of Bolu province where Meşe lives, to see if they could get the family some help. The governorate replied who told him they would absolutely help “Uncle Ali.” Then, the Minister of Family and Social Policies, Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, began an extensive help campaign.
We’re happy to report that Meşe and his family — and their beloved kitten– now have a new home, thanks to the Turkish government.
How you can help
Would you like to help “Uncle Ali” and his family? You can donate to their Gofundme campaign here.
You can also donate to, or volunteer for the Red Cross / Red Crescent society. Red Crescent is the arm of the International Cross that works in Muslim countries. Red Cross and Red Crescent help victims of disasters large and small. They are politically neutral, and help people without regard to race or religion.
Heating is expensive, and people without access to safe heating — or without the money to pay for it — have to make tough choices. Some people even go without heating in the dead of winter. The United States has a program that helps elderly, disabled, and low income people to pay for heating in the winter. This program is called LIHEAP. Unfortunately, the White House has proposed eliminating it. The current budget keeps funding for LIHEAP intact, but the President has proposed cutting heat assistance numerous times.
How can you help? Contact your congressperson and tell them that heating assistance for elderly, disabled, and low-income Americans is important to you.
Featured Image: Public Domain, by Beth13053, via Wikimedia Commons