Melek Onugoren has been stuck in Turkey since February.
Melek Onugoren has been stuck in Turkey since February.

Pandemic traps Toowoomba woman in Turkey for months

A TOOWOOMBA woman who travelled to Turkey in February, before COVID-19 travel restrictions, has not been able to return home due to flight cancellations and the extreme cost of flights.

Melek Onugoren, known for running Melek's Baklava at the Toowoomba Farmers Market, travelled to Turkey in February to help her sick mother.

Melek Onugoren cooking Turkish dish Kisir. Photo Dave Noonan / The Chronicle
Melek Onugoren cooking Turkish dish Kisir. Photo Dave Noonan / The Chronicle

"Since March she has been unable to get a flight home, seven times her flights have been cancelled," market manager Robyn Ayles said.

"The only chance is to upgrade to business class, something Mel cannot afford after such a long time unable to earn any money.

"She has been a regular stallholder at our market since it began."

Ms Ayles said Native Oz Bushfoods stallholder Tracey Goebel had organised a GoFundMe fundraiser to help get Melek home.

"If anyone could help with a dollar or two perhaps we can get Mel home where she belongs," Ms Ayles said.

"If we can raise enough, we can assist with her flights, quarantine costs and assist her in getting back on her feet again here in Toowoomba."

So far, about $600 has been donated to the GoFundMe, out of a total goal of $8000.

"She is not able to get any funds from our government," Ms Goebel wrote in the GoFundMe description.

"While Mel is in Turkey her rent (and) bills also (have) not been paid.

"Not only that, her son was stuck in Bali for weeks as his visa would not allow him to stay here, so he had to return."

You can view the GoFundMe here.


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