Turkish students at Santa Clara University hold vigil for earthquake victims

It was one week ago that a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated parts of Turkey and Syria. 

And Monday night, dozens of people gathered for a candlelight vigil at Santa Clara University, remembering the thousands of people who were killed. 

There are a few Turkish students on this campus, but organizers of this vigil say they still wanted to get together and spread awareness about life there after the earthquake. 

"So, I lost my aunt and my 1st and 2nd cousin and some friends. I know a lot of people who are still there right now," said Marta Balikcioglu, a Santa Clara University student.  

After a week of reaching out to loved ones and seeing video of the areas decimated by the earthquake, Turkish students at Santa Clara University wanted to find a way for people to stay connected. 

"I just tried to reach out to as many people as I could because I knew that I really wanted for this issue to be represented on campus," said Santa Clara University student Zumrut Erten. 

On Monday, they held a candlelight vigil on campus and talked about how news of the earthquake personally affected them. 

"The amount of heart-wrenching stories I’ve heard this last week is too many to count. Ranging from deaths to mass graves, life-altering injuries and just destruction everywhere. Everyone is suffering," Balikcioglu said.  

The combined death toll for both Turkey and Syria reached 35,000, and it’ll take several years to rebuild the region after thousands of buildings fell. One man says he’s from Syria and works at Santa Clara University. He says he too has friends in the region, so he’s working to donate money and spread awareness.   

"We can do a lot in terms of humanitarian aid and in terms of politics. Please reach out to your representative allow international aid to cross the borders so that people can get help," said Firas Arodaki, an employee at LitePoint. 

Syria has been in a civil war for more than a decade, but the UN says Syria has opened one border crossing point for humanitarian aid. Thirteen and a half million people in both Turkey and Syria have been affected by this earthquake.