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How this NGO is helping victims of Turkish mine disaster provide for their families

A project spearheaded by Turkish Americans aims to assist impoverished women in Turkey’s western town of Soma, where a massive mining disaster has left hundreds of families without livelihood.
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In May 2014, Turkey’s worst mining disaster killed 301 workers in a coal mine in the western town of Soma. Since then, time has largely effaced the tragedy from public memory, with the trial of those responsible moving at a snail’s pace. Left behind are hundreds of impoverished women and children, struggling to hold on to life. Hundreds of households have lost their breadwinners as many miners were left crippled and jobless, in addition to those who perished in the fire.

A number of civic society groups, manufacturers and fashion designers have mobilized to help the miners’ wives earn their living. Anatolian Artisans, a Maryland-based nonprofit organization spearheaded by Turkish Americans, is among the helping hands. The organization, dedicated to supporting low-income artisans in Turkey since 1999, has focused not on widows but rather on women whose husbands have been incapacitated, left crippled by the disaster. It has established a workshop in Soma as part of a project to market the women’s handmade products to international customers.

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