Syrian refuge crisis gets personal for School of Public Health professor

									Mona Rath |
																			December 15, 2015


Pinar Karaca-Mandic, SPH associate professor, was recently featured in the Park Bugle, a community newspaper serving the St. Paul, Minnesota, neighborhoods of Como Park and St. Anthony Park and the cities of Lauderdale and Falcon Heights. Here is an article published in the Park Bugle, Dec. 15, 2015.


Pinar Cropped
Pinar Karaca-Mandic, PhD

As with many Minnesotans, Pinar Karaca-Mandic has been watching the Syrian refugee crisis unfold and wondering if there’s anything she can do to help. She has kept her eye on it longer and more steadily than most, however, because the interest is personal.

Karaca-Mandic, a University of Minnesota public health professor, was born in Turkey.

“The beach where the little boy Aylan’s body was found is where I went swimming with my family almost every summer,” she said, recalling the September news photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi.

She turned her research capabilities to finding a way to help.

“I have been observing this crisis since 2011,” she said. “Turkey is now the largest refugee hosting country, with almost 2.5 million registered Syrian refugees; 54 percent are children. While there are refugee camps, they can host at most about 20 percent.

“The rest are truly struggling in major cities or border towns and are in great need,” she continued. “The situation of the children has been saddening me the most. They lost everything, and yet they need everything. They need to continue their education, and we can help.”

The Bridge to Turkiye Fund (BTF), founded in North Carolina in 2003, supports nongovernmental organizations in Turkey, many of which first formed in response to the 1999 earthquake that devastated the country.

“Their main mission is health care and education for children in underserved areas,” Karaca-Mandic said.

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