Start:5 Years Ago
Phone:+1 818- 478-1983
I had been following the Syrian refugee crisis since March 2011. At first, I was observing the situation from afar. Then I started running and posting my miles on social media to bring attention to the plight of the refugees. But I felt a strong calling to do more. In August of 2015, I decided to a book plane ticket without a clear idea of what I would be doing. And so my journey began.
On my first night in Sid, Serbia, more than 2,000 refugees walked through a cornfield where I, along with a group of other volunteers, had set up a station offering food and water.
I spent weeks traveling between Greece and Germany. I did what I could to help the refugees along the way. I listened to their stories, cried with them, gave them whatever information I had about border openings, bus and train routes and where to avoid minefields.
When the refugees discovered that I spoke Arabic with a Syrian accent they felt a connection to me and shared the stories of their journeys, the loss of loved ones, and their hope against all odds for a better future. It was here that I learned of refugees crossing the Aegean Sea along with the horrific stories that accompanied them. I knew that I needed to meet this beast of a sea in order to complete my journey. So in December 2015, I boarded a plane and headed back, this time to Greece and Turkey.
I spent December and January on the island of Chios, Greece, working with international volunteers at the CHIOS EASTERN SHORE RESCUE TEAM. Our mission was to distribute food, water, blankets and relief kits to the refugees as they landed on the island, and to ultimately prepare them for the next leg of their journey.
In June of 2016, I traveled to Lebanon to join a local NGO. We helped purchase and distribute food to the refugees in the informal settlements and worked in conjunctions with UNHCR and Teachers Without Borders to educate children while we were there as well as set up long-term education solutions. We also assisted in covering basic living needs for new arrivals and in paying medical bills for refugees uncovered by UNHCR.
The Bekaa Valley has had a massive impact on me. It’s been very hard to go back to my “normal life” and not think of these children. The world has turned its’ back on these people in their time of need, in what is one of the largest humanitarian catastrophes of our time. Although we were only 24 volunteers, in the end, we delivered more than 17 tons of food. But still, this is only a teardrop in an ocean of need. My experience in the Bekaa Valley, living among the refugees, is the reason I have formed LPI Corp.