Guelph restaurant holding fundraiser for Syrian and Turkish earthquake relief

GUELPH – An upcoming fundraiser will support Syrian and Turkish earthquake relief. 

The event is slated for Saturday, March 18 from 6 to 9pm at Retour Bistro in Guelph.

There will be “performances, speakers, prizes, and, of course, some really good food,” states organizer Horeen Hassan in a press release. 

Organizer Kate Nixon said the fundraiser is in response to a call for international solidarity from the countries impacted by the earthquake on Feb. 6. 

The earthquake has a death toll of 54,000 people so far. More than 48,000 of the deaths were in Turkiye and almost 6,000 in Syria.

(Turkish officials have asked the country be referred to in English as it is in Turkish – Turkiye).  

Millions of people were displaced by the earthquake and many more are impacted, often without access to necessities like food, clothing and medical supplies. 

Sara Kuwatly, a Syrian community member of Guelph and organizer of the fundraiser, said “when I woke up to the news I was just so heartbroken. 

“It felt like the whole world should stop. How could the earth keep spinning when there’s so much hurt and damage? 

“It feels like we can’t catch a break, it’s one tragedy after another,” Kuwatly said.  

The event will highlight how community members can support and spotlight middle Eastern culture, organizers state in the release.

Retour Bistro serves authentic Lebanese cuisine and will donate 10 per cent of food sales on the day of the fundraiser. 

Layla Saleh, the bistro owner, said “Syrians and Lebanese are one and the same to me. 

“They are our neighbours and we take care of our neighbours and help them in their hour of need.”

Event coordinator Abdullah Ba’Abdullah said “Guelph to me is a very tight community that models the trait of social awareness and community service. 

“It is vitally important for us to maintain that culture in our city and keep ourselves busy helping others. 

“This fundraiser is an opportunity to not only do just that, but to translate our impact internationally.” 

Admission is by donation with a suggestion of $10. 

Proceeds go to White Helmets, Islamic Relief and Torihawkwari.