-Location: Damascus Syria
shown above from left to right cousin Majd, myself, Elias. Hineh Syria circa 1999?
I want to talk to you about Elias. I met him when I was in the eighth grade and our family traveled to Syria to visit and connect with members of our family who have their roots in Hineh, a small hilltop town in the Golan Heights. He was a couple years older than I was and liked American movies and music. Just a regular kid by all accounts.
Let's move forward. Elias, like many in our family has an entrepreneurial spirit, and he opened an accessory store and also a shop that sold juice in Damascus where he lives. Unfortunately due to the war in Syria he lost this business. He now works at a shipping company where he earns about $150 US a month. When I rekindled communication with Elias last year he wasn’t yet ready to admit that the war was really as big an issue as we might view it as from a distance. After all, at that point in time Damascus was a little better off. This however has changed. Elias now finds himself, like so many others in Syria, without viable opportunities for safety and a secure future. He is also worried about being forced into military service since he is part of a family with multiple eligible sons.
Elias has a plan. He wants to go to Germany and start over. His dream is to again be his own boss and to eventually build a family in a place that is safe. This plan has a few major steps. With his current income he can’t afford the prohibitive costs associated with getting out of the country. There are two major steps that Elias needs our help with. They are:
#1. Leaving Syria – Elias plans to leave Syria and travel to Beirut where he will stay with his cousin and make the arrangements he needs to travel into Europe. This move will cost about $2000
#2. Travel to Germany – At this point Germany is welcoming folks in Elias’s shoes. He knows of several success stories that have followed this particular path. He will have to pay for travel from Lebanon into Germany. We estimate this cost at about $2300
Elias is going to also participate in communicating on this page. He is working on putting his thoughts in order. It has been a challenge for him to ask for the money. He is a proud guy and doesn’t feel great about asking for it. In fact, it wasn’t his idea to set this up at all but once I spoke with him about it he agreed it would be worth a shot. So I’m asking you to help me with this, in whatever way is appropriate for you, and also to share this with anyone you think might be moved by Elias story, which is the story of thousands and thousands of people right now.
Once our goal is met I would be sending this money to Elias via Western Union into Beirut. As with any situation like this I feel there is some risk of losing this money, although I don't feel it is great. I think this is a method that has worked in the past for Elias's friends and family and to be perfectly honest there are not a lot of other options available to us.
I would be very proud to be able to be a part of someone starting over and getting out of Syria. The imagery I see daily looks like hell to me. I don't want to look back and say while other's lived in misery I just went fishing.
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