My name is Houda Alkasm, I am Syrian Living in canada, I have been in Canada for almost 19 years now. I visited Syria in 2009 for the first time after leaving it at 3 years old, and again in 2010 right before the war broke out.
This is a short story I want to share with everyone however a lot of details are missing because It would take a full day for you to read .. so i will just make it short and simple.
Last year 2017 , I had no plans on visiting Syria because of all the scary things you hear on the news. Every year i would think about it but my family back home would tell me to wait.. wait till next year... and the year after ... until 7 years passed by.
Since I wasnt able to go to syria, I wanted to find a way to help from here.. so sometime in 2016 I started a gofundme account to help collect donations to send to a trusted organization. I wanted to help those in SYRIA.. those are stuck in syria and arent able to leave. I know there are many syrians that came to canada and are recieving a lot of help , this is not for them.
( I am for helping the ones here too but to a certain extent, in my opinion they receive more than enough help.... )
The real people that need help are the ones that dont have the extra money to travel to refugee camps in lebanon and turkey or surrounding areas. The real people that need help are the ones that have their children stuck in the army and cant leave them behind... the ones who honestly have no choice but to stay in syria because they have NO where else to go.. the ones who choose to stay because they have nothing else to loose...
Anyhow, I did some research on different organizations that are actually inside syria that are helping in person and only found a few, I had no plans to go to syria at the time so my only way was to find organizations. Trusted and reputable organizations and as sad as it was , there really wasnt many that i was comfortable or confident in sending money too. I did find one under the name of abdullateefkhaled that I followed for a few months and noticed he was doing a really great job by building mosques and shelters for orphans right outside of syria borders. So I figured he would be the safest to send money too. In a short time I was able to raise total of $1700 CDN . (I will post a screenshot of last years account somewhere on here).
During the time of collecting this money, I was still hesitant because I sent Abdullateefkhaled a few facebook msg in both arabic and english asking different questions and i wasnt getting the response i was looking for, or sometimes i wasnt getting a response at all. So i felt like its not the right time to send the money yet..
Little did i know, Allah's plans were different than mine.. Some time in January 2017 as I was speeking with my uncle we were casually speaking about me going down again and I expected a " No Houda just wait another year" I was surprised when he said you know what, just come you will be okay inshaAllah. I was scared and shocked to hear that... I think i wasnt ready for that answer... I went through all the emotions a person can go through for a whole 5 seconds and than quickly went and booked a flight in May during Ramadan before anyone ( me, my family in syria & my family here) changes their mind...
Long story short, I quickly thought about the donations on gofundme that was collected and I honestly felt so happy because i felt like this was the perfect opportunity for me to personally find those families and children that lost their homes and have no food or shelter during ramadan and hand it to them by my own self.
Fast forward to may when i went down to syria, I connected with a few locals, teachers and sheikhs who know of broken families that were affected by the war. I was very strict on the condition of the families and only wanted to meet and see those who really have nothing and who lost everything to the war, lost their homes and belognings, those who lost family members and loved ones. I needed to see these families and their conditions before giving anything to them. Not to be picky but I felt like there were so many in need i needed to make sure that the ones i met with were the ones who needed help the most.
I will mention one story just beacuse it really stuck with me and changed me forever..
One of the areas I was told about that I would find a few families in was called "Azzaz" it was one of the main "safer" areas a lot of the families fled too .. So i went and I would walk into this old, dusty broken hallway on my right would be a small 100 sq room on my left is another 2 - 100 sq rooms or less and right infront of me there is a toilet.. ( not the french style) and there is a sink with maybe few utensils.. I walk in and there are 3-4 people in the first , 2 older couple in the second and a mother and her son in the third.. I asked one of the ladies if they are all a family as I wanted to give them all ONE envelope of the $25,000 SL... She said no dear, we dont know each other each room has a separte family.... this was so heartbreaking.... and here I was a year ago looking at buying a home and not liking it enough because it had only 2 bathrooms....
I have so many stories to tell, If one day anyone like to hear them id be more than happy to sit with you and just talk.. just to tell their stories. But right now I will leave you with just this.
You know, $1700 doesnt sound too much in canada, but do you know the exchange in syrian Lira? at the time i was there in 2017 it converted to $678,300 syrian Lira. That is a lot of syrian money to the syrian people, we were able to feed and help 27+ families .. comfortably. It's equivalent to monthly income... each family was able to receive $25,000 SL .. That amount of money in syria, lasts for a month.. thats equal to $60 canadian... can you imagine surviving on $60 a month..
A very dear friend of mine heard I was doing this while I was in syria and wanted to help even more, so they contacted their community Sheikh and members and they were able to collect an additional $1000 and help an additional 15 families.
So I plan on going to syria again this year inshaAllah,, If Allah wills and if its in his plans I would like to go and do the same thing .. but InshaAllah help more people this time.. It was truly a rewarding expereince espcially knowing and seeing first hand where the money is going.. although at the end of the day its our intentions that will count the most !
Please forward this to anyone who you might know would like to help :)
So InshaAllah the plan will be to send to a none profit organization that is on land which can go and directly help others. The organization is called OnenationUK. They have people all around Syria.
I did that last year however I didnt get some of the families permissions to post so i wasnt comfortable to post them.. i will post what i am able to ..
Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this and please pass thjs on JAK to All. .
- Carla Herget
- Laila Elkadri
- Carol Hughes
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