‘I’m inspired by the love in Ipswich’

Comedian and actor, Omid Djalili, has urged businesses to get behind a campaign for victims of the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, which killed tens of thousands.

Published in Suffolk Director Magazine Summer | Autumn 2023
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Turkey and Syria Earthquake Appeal

Omid, who lives in Ipswich, is calling for donations to the charities, War Child and Turkey Mozaic, after embarking on a fundraising drive prompted by the plight of those impacted by the natural disaster, which struck south-eastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, on February 6.

His appeal follows a ‘Suffolk Stands with the People of Turkey and Syria’ charity evening in Ipswich on June 17, which raised more than £20,000.

Omid has been inspired by the Ipswich community’s generosity and praised its welcome to genuine asylum seekers and refugees as an official ‘Town of Sanctuary’.

“Ipswich is probably the most diverse place I’ve been to. I’ve been so encouraged by the amount of money we have raised and inspired by the love coming from the town. The main thing businesses and individuals can do to help is donate – even £10 will make a difference.”

Recalling the moment he first learned about the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, Omid says: “I was watching it on the news, and I could tell that this was on a different scale.

A devastating impact

“Officially, 61,000 are dead, but it is probably five to ten times more than that – and there are hundreds of thousands who have been made homeless. It is, without question, the worst earthquake ever in terms of its impact.

“As soon as it happened, some Turkish-Syrian artists reached out to me saying they were doing a big event at the Royal Albert Hall in London to raise money to help charities on the ground, and would I get involved. So that’s how this all started, and then after teaming up with Ipswich Central as a town ambassador, I decided to organise the fundraising evening in the town.”

A fundraising event

‘I’m inspired by the love in Ipswich’ 1

The event included a guest appearance by his friend and British-Turkish actor, Tamer Hassan, who was personally affected by the disaster when his relatives went missing in the aftermath but were later found. They were joined on stage by comedians Seann Walsh and Paul Chowdry, and music acts, Sounds of Solidarity and The Turbans. Three refugees displaced from Iran and Afghanistan, also spoke emotively about their experiences and how they were now making Ipswich their home.

“The three refugees who spoke at the event love their country,” explains Omid. “All in their twenties they were doing well, and through no fault of their own, they suddenly find themselves in Ipswich. They are very grateful, but now they are here they want to contribute to the community.”

He adds: “This earthquake has really affected us all. There is a global shift towards people seeing the world as one. Martin Luther King once said the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. We have our own problems here, such as the cost of living crisis, but we can’t stand by and do nothing – we have to do something.”

To donate £10 to War Child and Turkey Mozaik, text HOPE to 70499. (You will be charged £10 plus one message at your standard network rate.)

Photo above shows Omid and Tamer at the appeal event in Ipswich. Credit: Rue Hackett

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