Woman drives aid truck from France to quake zone in Türkiye
'I want to show that women can do any job, no matter what profession,' says Gulfem Zengin, 24, truck driver of 4 years
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A woman truck driver who transported relief supplies from France to Türkiye after massive earthquakes hit the country last month hopes to demonstrate that women can succeed at any task.
Speaking to Anadolu, Gulfem Zengin shared her experiences during the four years she has been in the traditionally male-dominated profession and her battle against prejudice.
Born in the French city of Lyon, Zengin said she initially faced criticism for pursuing such the job and was told she should prioritize marriage and starting a family, instead.
As time passed, however, this criticism turned into appreciation.
Over four years, Zengin has driven across 16 countries and covered a distance of 600,000 kilometers (about 373,000 miles). "There is no one in my family who does this job. I loved trucks. I had set my mind on being a driver. I don't just consider it as a job. It has become an addiction for me," she said.
Acknowledging that her job is challenging and rigorous, the 24-year-old added that despite the daily risks and difficulties of transporting heavy cargo, she finds joy in her work.
She stressed that working as a truck driver signified that women can excel in any profession, Zengin said: "This or any other profession, cleaner, cashier, office staff. I want to show that women can do any job, no matter what profession. My aim is to show that a woman can stand on her own feet. It doesn't matter whether the salary is more or less. Women need to be able to stand on her own feet.”
Hearts still with earthquake victims
Zengin said she traveled alone for four days and covered a distance of 4,300 km, carrying tons of relief supplies, including clothing, blankets, food, pet food, and medicine, which were collected by the Turkish-French Friendship Society and transported to the southern Kahramanmaras province after the earthquakes last month.
The 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes struck 11 Turkish provinces — Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Hatay, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa, claiming more than 50,000 lives.
Over 13.5 million people in Türkiye have been affected by the quakes, as well as many others in northern Syria.
"A driver and truck were urgently being sought. When I heard about that, I reached out to the Turkish-French Friendship Society and we took action. I took off without thinking of the expense.
"When I saw Turkish trucks on the road, I followed them. I stopped where they stopped and continued where they continued. My body is in France now, but my heart is still with earthquake victims," she said, recounting her journey.
Zengin's efforts to deliver the much-needed aid to the earthquake victims were warmly welcomed. "I received really nice, motivating messages. This made me very proud."
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