Help us save this refugee family

This is our friend Rabia and his family.  They desperately need your help.  We are Australians, John and Mellisa Giancarlo and we have spent the last two years trying to help our Syrian friend Rabia escape the threat of torture and death by seeking asylum in a safe country.  This is taking many years to accomplish, and in the meantime, Rabia and his family are living in misery as refugees.  Please help us help Rabia purchase a business in New Zealand and seek a new, safe life for his family there.

We enjoy a safe and secure life with our family.  We are fortunate to be able to provide for our children and give them the security they need to play and learn and reach their full potential.  We know how incredibly lucky we are, when every night the news is full of terrible stories of war and destruction and people fleeing for their lives. 

Rabia is in a position he never expected to be in, seeking asylum.  The happy and secure life he was building for himself and his family in Syria is over.  He now lives in poverty and fear, under the constant threat of harm or even death.  Like any of us would, he has taken his family and run from the violence and terrible threats made against himself and his family.   But even though he has escaped Syria, he is still not safe.

Twenty years ago, like many Aussies, we went on a big backpacking adventure.  While in Syria we met a young man called Rabia (I am not publishing his full name to protect the family.  They are still receiving threats.  Please email me directly if you would like more information about Rabia).  We met lots of people on that trip, but it was Rabia who we ended up forming a great friendship with, a lifelong friendship .  He was serious and smart and made us feel so welcome in his country.  He was a student at university at the time, and had big plans for his future. 

 Over the years, we went back to Syria many times to visit Rabia and we got to know his family very well.  We saw him graduate university (he majored in economics and business studies) and start his life in business.  He is a natural entreprenuer, very driven and hard working, and had created (and was expanding) a number of businesses in his hometown.  He married a beautiful local girl and they had two adorable little boys.  He was building a great life for his family.

(Some of our many visits to Rabia in Syria)
Then war broke out and everything changed.

They hoped Syria would get through its troubles, but became increasingly disillusioned by how the government was treating its own people.  Rabia is a very civically-minded person and has a strong sense of social justice.  He was against the atrocities being commited against the people of Syria.  Certain groups of people became very angry with Rabia's views.  He was threatened and physically attacked by soldiers.  On one occassion he was kidnapped, beaten and tortured ; his car was fired upon while he was driving with his children.  He genuinely feared for his life.  With specific threats made toward him, plus the advancing Islamic fundamentalists, who are now killing indiscriminately in Syria, he had no choice but to flee with his family in January 2014 and become a refugee in Lebanon.  He fled with nothing but his immediate family, losing everything he had ever worked for and achieved.

As one of our oldest friends, and knowing what a good and decent man he is, we had no hesitation in stepping forward to help Rabia in any way we could.  We researched many options to find safety in a peaceful country, and in 2014 applied to sponsor Rabia and his family for a humantiarian visa to Australia.  He truly needs to escape and find a safe place, and we knew a person like Rabia, with his hard working mindset and can-do attitude, would be an asset to Australian society.  In March 2014 we submitted the application for a Refugee and Humanitarian visa.  We received written acknowledgement of a valid application on 31st March 2014 and since then we have been waiting. 

 For over a year now, Rabia and his family have been in limbo.  It is almost impossible to find work and they are living hand-to-mouth and relying on friends, family and charity just to get by.  He is also constantly told by family back in Syria that certain people still consider him an enemy and want to 'get rid of him'.  He continues to fear for his own safety and the safety of his wife and children. Even in Lebanon, he is still virtually in hiding.  Like so many refugees from the war in Syria, they are living a nightmare.

The news from the Australian immigration department is that it will take years of waiting to find out if Rabia and his family will be accepted for asylum in Australia.  There is no guarantee that a family in so much peril, and with all the qualities of Rabia, and all the potential to bring so much to Australian society, will be given asylum and the chance at a new life.

Since it seems that Rabia will have to endure many more months and possibly years of waiting for Australia to assess his application,  even though they are registered UNHCR refugees, and then possibly be rejected in their bid for asylum, we are looking for another way to help the family escape - a business visa to New Zealand.

If we can help Rabia purchase an exisiting business in New Zealand, he could obtain a visa for himself and his family to move to NZ and start building their new life.  Rabia and his wife can work.  The children can go to school and feel safe and optimistic about life.

Here is some information about the NZ Long Term Business Visa.

New Zealand Long Term Business Visa
The long term business visa is for people who intend to move to New Zealand and establish a business or reinvigorate an existing business. A work permit is initially granted for 9 months allowing the applicant time to establish their business. Before the 9 months have expired an applicant can apply for a further work permit to take their stay to 3 years.

To be eligible Rabia must:

*Be of good health and character - CHECK
*Have a reasonable standard of English language - CHECK
*Have a sound business plan - CAN BE DONE
*Have relevant experience and market knowledge -CHECK
*Provide detailed financial information regarding business set up and maintenance - CAN BE DONE
*Have investment capital, and sufficient funds for the maintenance and accommodation of any spouse or partner or dependent children included in your application - THIS IS WHERE WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Can you help me raise AU$200,000 for Rabia to purchase an existing business in New Zealand? 

We will use all the money raised to help Rabia and his family:

* Find a business to purchase in New Zealand.
*Write a strong business plan and apply for the NZ Long Term Business Visa.
*Relocate the family to NZ and help them get set up in their new home and business.

Please help this one family get back on their feet and build a safe life for themselves in New Zealand.

Thank you for any help you can provide Rabia and his family toward finding safety and hope.


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Mellisa Giancarlo 
Savigny, VD, Switzerland
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