Life for the residents of a lake island in Turkey has always been mostly isolated, but thanks to the novel coronavirus it has been even more so. But perhaps being so detached from the hustling bustling world was a good thing. Out of the 180 people currently living on the island of Mada, not one has yet been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Mada is the biggest of 32 islands inside Beyşehir Lake in Isparta in Turkey's west midlands and the only way on and off the piece of land is by crossing the body of water it is surrounded by on a boat, and each family thankfully has their own. Just to reach the mainland is a tough task though, as the islanders have to paddle for about 700 meters (0.44 mile).
New kind of social distancing
The District Governor of Şarkikaraağaç Onur Yılmazer told Anadolu Agency that life on the island is difficult, and the residents’ main livelihood is stockbreeding, fishing and agriculture.
“Maybe they don’t have much money as famous football players to buy an island, but they live an isolated life on one,” Yılmazer said.
Despite the forced isolation this time round, every measure to stop the spread of the virus is being taken, Yılmazer assures.
“We are making locals pay attention to the use of masks and social distance rules,” he said.
Abdulkadir Yıldırım, the village headman of Gedikli, said residents were living isolated long before the spread of the virus.
“The virus couldn't reach here after its spread, as there is no transportation (to the island). They are lucky in that way. While the world feels dejected, people on Mada Island are lucky and they have a (relatively) comfortable life,” Yıldırım added.
“Life, (and) transportation here can be really difficult, especially during winters,” he said.
“The lake freezes, and they have problems for three months; they cannot cross to (the mainland).” But now that spring is here, everything is back to normal.
Turkish aid comes to the rescue
Ever since Turkey called on its citizens to stay at home in March, those aged 65 and older, or those who have chronic illnesses, have had some issues with getting supplies. Luckily for them, the Vefa (Loyalty) Social Support Group was there to help.
Now teams regularly deliver necessary items, including food or medicine, distributing them door-to-door – of course, with masks and at a distance.
In turn, residents show their gratitude to the Vefa teams by offering them some local food.