In Memory of my Soul Brother Raed Fares & Hamoud Jnaid

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Raed, Hamoud & Khalid amongst others in Kafranbel, Idlib

Raed Fares and Hamoud Jnaid were assassinated together on the 23rd November 2018. They were both prominent figures of the Syrian Revolution, leading many critical projects in Kafr Nabl, (Kafranbel), Syria. I think most people who have followed Syria know exactly who these men are.

This has taken me some time to be able to share anything. A light was turned off in my heart when they left this earth.
I have always kept a level of privacy with who I know and all I do, but I genuinely could not have been more proud to know these men. I didn’t publish a tribute mainly because I would have to limit my personal emotions and that is not something I wanted to do. So here I am sharing this personally here.

I am sure the world can understand the work Raed & Hamoud have done; life changing projects that never stopped growing; but I wish to share a little about the Raed & Hamoud I knew personally.

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The endless laughter I miss so greatly with Raed. Trying to take a ‘normal’ photo together even took many tries to not be acting like fools together.

Raed Fares was not just a best friend to me, he was my big brother I never had before we met. He was my light when I struggled in the dark in my work in Syria. I am still somewhat in disbelief and still check my phone awaiting a reply sometimes, or replaying voice messages wishing it was yesterday. This has destroyed a part of my heart like I could never have imagined.

Even in the moments we should have been deadly serious, we never could be. We laughed our way through everything.

Raed was a husband, brother & a father like no other. He was a face for inspiration of freedom across the world; but at home he was a very proud father of three wonderful young men, and he was merely a young cheeky boy in love teasing his wife. They had a bond that was unbreakable, they were always smiling, his wife was a love he fought for through a very troublesome younger era, and when I would sit alone with them the sparkle in their eyes still would shine bright; it was a love I hoped to have in my life. His dear wife has not just lost her husband, she has lost her spirit; they completed each other in every way. He was the wall she would lean on. “My heart burned for Raed… I am shattered and ruined…” as she shared in the tragic aftermath of his death. This truly is an incredible, loving family.

Through all his foreign trips many would give him gifts or ask for things to be brought back into Syria for others; Raed would accept of course but would make sure the space in his bag at the border was reserved for gifts for his precious wife. While Raed was a cheeky charming innocent flirt in life, his heart was lit for his one and only lady deep inside.

Raed Adventures

He was an instigator in all the best ways with a heart of gold. We spent most of our time with new unexpected ways to get into mischievous adventures together. Every encounter would be a random unknown experience.

Everything from arguing over vegetables in the market that somehow would bring us to tears in laughter with everyone looking at us like we are crazy, shouting at each other in cars for his insane driving skills, randomly sitting in an impromptu meeting with the family of what was to be Khalid’s wife so he could get me to see how beautiful she is secretly, getting him active on twitter & us being stuck on the bio so I simply wrote “I have a big nose.” which had us laughing for days; that bio lasted for quite a while before he had to try to be more professional in public (he totally should have kept my bio!), the dreadful singing skills, the random always blurry selfies of guys together with a thinking of me message, the awful photos he would always take of me and send out to others that made me crazy, his laughter when I ask about ‘crocodile’ because I could never remember his real name even as the years passed by… where do I begin or even end, these are just a few of so any memories engraved in my soul.

Raed would often share how proud he was to know me; he never did take me seriously when I would respond to tell him he was one of the biggest parts of my inspiration in life. He was so important to me that I was planning to have him as my celebrant when I finally got the moment to have a real wedding celebration. How he laughed & loved my crazy plans.

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With Hamoud in Kafr Nabl, Syria

Hamoud Jnaid was an incredible man of integrity & care. I had first met Hamoud on a trip in 2014. Raed, Hamoud, Khalid Al-Essa (who tragically was killed in 2016 in Syria), and myself would laugh like crazy with the others, my jaws would truly hurt for a couple of days after I would leave, I have never had such joys like this in my life and the fact is; somehow through the worst tragedy I will ever witness in my life in Syria I was blessed with the strongest bonds & experiences.

Raed was insisting I relaxed and take off my hijab as he couldn’t understand why I was keeping it on inside in private with them… after long humorous bickering as usual together, I took it off to make him shut up and understand why I didn’t want to take it off. There was a second of silence with an uproar of laughter as he told me to quickly put it back on after seeing the mess I was under it all. I had been in Syria for many weeks at that time and hadn’t been able to wash my hair; many locations I had been to before I arrived to Kafr Nabl had no water due to the crisis and the water available was not to be wasted on something as mundane as washing my hair.

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With Rafif, Hamoud’s Daughter

Hamoud insisted I came to his home to have a shower and change. Hamoud’s wife and children were so kind to me as the amazing true people of Syria are. We sat for dinner together with his family and his beautiful daughter Rafif became so close to me, a photo taken of us together that evening became the one photo that Raed and I would be laughing about years later because he was so tired of Hamoud always showing the same photo. We even laughed to test his theory about this photo shortly before his death. Hamoud was not with us, so Raed wrote to him to say he was with me and that photo arrived as the only reply with a big heart emoji; you cannot imagine how we laughed until we cried at the response.

One evening in Syria Hamoud brought back arabic sweets for me knowing I love sweets more than anything, even with all the things he had to do he took a moment to think to do something so kind.

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Khalid Al-Essa with Hamoud in Kafr Nabl, Syria

These men are the most honourable men I could ever encounter in life. I trusted them with my work, with my life, with my privacy. These men didn’t have one bad bone in their body. These men are exactly what the world should aspire to be. I trusted them as family to me; they were family to me.

Somehow anytime I was with Raed whether in Syria or Turkey I had him cooking for me. One of the best memories of my life was watching as Raed, Hamoud, Khalid & ‘Crocodile’ cook together for me in the centre, the building would vibrate to the sound of bombs as laughter would echo through the rooms with our never ending humorous vulgar insults for one another. They would be clueless as they struggled to put together vegetarian meals for me yet it would be delicious. What I would give to have such moments again.

I even had the honour of being trusted to have my own key to his offices; that’s yet another comical story. Those buildings are full of people from every generation working on incredible projects their mastermind fought to create.

There is much more to Raed than the man many of the world identify with in knowing as a their activist friend. There was really so much more to the joker he always acted to be. This was a man of deep love and deep pain. Under that laughter was a deep-rooted pain; a pain for so much loss in Syria. That pain could be seen at rare moments deep in his eyes sometimes when he played his oud alone. He carried heartache for so much loss; especially after the death of Khalid who was a son to him.

Yasmin Al Tellawy & Raed Fares

The last time I parted ways with him at the border shortly before his death we struggled with words as usual with that awkward goodbye hug, masked under vague weak attacks for each other to cover emotions, there was a look always that look that would leave me crying after; we just never know when it is the last goodbye in Syria. We had a long silence as we parted ways knowing things were always so unknown. These silences became longer as time went on, I guess a slight moment of realising it truly might be our last goodbye.
I was scheduled to be back with him shortly after, we had been trying to work out the final details which was getting harder with the threats on his life.
That love I speak about between him and his wife was the side of Raed I was working on showing; the man under the journalist & activist he is widely known as, I was chasing his love story. While I respected greatly all the work he did, this was not my interest, just Raed as a person was all.

We had a long-standing twisted humour when we would contact each other “Why are you still alive!?” Poking fun of each other and our ridiculous lives. We would joke with each other over the emotional speech people give when someone dies even if they hated them, he promised when I died he would just say “Yasmin, I hated her” I promised in return I would say “Raed, the biggest ass**** with the biggest nose.” How we laughed through our stupid humour.
I never really thought the day would come foolishly as the years continued. I can hear Raed’s laughter as I write that echo in my head through my tears. At least I can say I kept my promise now and wrote it.

Raed Fares, Kafranbel, Idlib, Syria

Sometimes just a random “I hate you” “I hate you too” message exchange and nothing else would be spoken. Over the years years it became a comfort to get such messages. We could even sit together in Syria under air strikes and be tweeting silly messages to each other. There were the moments of long deep conversations of mutual support and care too. Through tougher times these conversations were lifelines to me; to be honest I could not have kept going in Syria without this friendship giving me strength.

There is no coward that can silence such people. There is not an act of violence that can be done to bring fear to others for the sickening actions that have been carried out; not only on Raed & Hamoud but across all of Syria. What happens now is a stronger voice will grow; this voice will echo not only in Syria but also across the world in support of Raed’s work & belief. These names will be written in history for our future generations to learn about and be inspired by to achieve greatness as they did.
The uneducated fools who carried out this heinous crime are only worthless murderers who will never have their names remembered; they will never gain respect.

Raed & Hamoud are the winners. Everything was achieved with a voice, a pen, a camera, a smile and love; nothing can challenge this.

Raed, Hamoud along with Khalid and so many others will remain indestructible in my heart; just as they will to everyone they loved, along with the people they have inspired in every country in this world.

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A wall in Kafr Nabl, Syria

Let’s go back to the beginning… Syria.

I started going to Syria from the beginning of the revolution. Looking back, it was the beginning of me truly living. I could never put into words the enlightening feeling there is of being surrounded by such an abundance of love, strength and passion in life.

Mid 2011 – Early 2012: While it was the beginning of a horrendous continual spiral downwards for Syria, it was also a time of unity, love, welcoming and laughter; emotions I was blessed to be a part off; looking back at the Syria I enter now I truly appreciate every moment in the beginning with all I got to experience.

I entered the country through routes unimaginable, mountain terrains across Lebanon, tunnels, running for your life through land mine territories, along with the paths that felt like a walk in a park which were somehow more worrying to me that a war zone was a few footsteps away. The stories are endless but I know many Syrians can tell plentiful tales than I ever could this one, and tragically many did not live to tell the tales of these dangerous crossings.

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The early demonstrations in Syria

When I finally reached the other side, I would be greeted with smiles, hugs, kisses, pulled in every direction by the locals of whatever village I arrived to. It was a joyous time in many ways. I would walk through the streets with the locals learning all about their life, discovering everything with little worry of those surrounding me. The shabiha were very present but I felt at such ease and comfort always of the men of the newly formed Free Syrian Army. This was a time when there was true unity across Syria in opposition to the government forces.

There was a beautiful energy among the people, even with the murders & imprisonments happening across the country.

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The early demonstrations in Syria

The streets would be full of cheering in the newly liberated areas, children playing in the streets as they should be, and then there were the demonstrations. What a wondrous time that was. I am sure you know what I am talking about if you were there. You remember that energy, the songs, the dancing, the chanting, the children clapping and dancing with their parents, handmade flags whisking through the crowds, in the villages the dry rice would be falling over you as the women sang and threw it over the crowds in joy. When I would arrive I would be treated like royalty! The people had so much love to show me, the welcoming was incredible. Most of my footage was terribly shaky as I couldn’t stop myself from having a little dance as I waved my way through the crowds. The drums would beat all around me and the sound of freedom songs filled the air. My ribs would ache continually as I traveled for weeks and months across the country and the laughter would be never-ending. I wish I had all my hard drives with me right now to share so much more.

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An early demonstration in Syria

Most of my travel would be done on the back of a pick up truck or a motorcycle, and at times whatever makeshift means of travel could be put together. I could travel across open roads freely in many ways while in FSA territory. There was a great sense of freedom as I could feel the wind against me as we traveled and I could film at ease with the locals welcoming nature.
We feared shelling, warplanes and snipers loyal to the Assad regime, but looking back in comparison to what has become now, the escalation is absolutely shocking.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there was tremendous tragedy, pain across the country that will always haunt, human life lost with no just reasoning. While the demonstrations would take place, there would be those times when government loyal forces would storm the area and kill as many as they could in their path of terror. Indiscriminate bombings, civilians murdered continually, loved ones constantly disappearing. The FSA took care to protect the civilians demonstrating, that was their job and the origins of why they were formed.

I don’t wish to go into all of that however, not in this moment. I mention this just incase anyone reading this things it was some sort of fun party in Syria; it was far from it. The realities were ridiculously dangerous and the war crimes unbearable to recall as they continue to be.

My reasoning for writing this is simply because I have continued to work in Syria to this day I write this and I have witnessed every step of the revolution, and the now chaos the country has descended into. Things are very different as we all know, week by week things change fast on the ground. Sadly the atrocities continue; in vast numbers with many different groups committing crimes now. Sadly I am not free to roam the streets and talk with locals as I wish. Sadly I cannot be known as a journalist or even humanitarian upon working with my charity there, and each time I enter the country, only my eyes show knowing there are few I can trust. I get such an overwhelming sense of sadness in these moments I travel. A once ‘freedom’ in many ways, to now a need to stay invisible. I feel weighed down at times with sadness from what has become of Syria lately and sit in this moment and recall so many cherished memories and cherished souls I have encountered.

I share this because I miss that unity. I miss those days, although I wish those days never had to exist, but I miss the beauty and glow of the Syrian people.

I have had a very busy year to date, but mostly have been away from social media as I just have not had the time to check in on it, but also at times because it saddens me deeply too. If I take a quick scroll through my news feeds on accounts I see so much hate, I just feel further sadness. There is enough destruction happening physically without now using social media as a method to spread hate too.

I do also have so much love, and you know who you are across the world who take their time to think of me and show me love frequently. That is never forgotten.

Smiles in Syria!

Smiles in Syria!

Stop and think, please. What has hate ever done for our world? What has hate ever done for you personally? What is that going to do for the chaos that has become Syria? I know a lot of it comes from places of anger and emotions, but focus those emotions towards love, towards sharing peace. That is how you can make a difference for Syria, for humanity.

Don’t waste time fighting over political movements in the country, the endless list of groups fighting across the country and the ever so complex who is who amidst this. Take your time on something in which you can and will make a difference, humanity. Remember that energy in the beginning, the love true Syrians have, that energy that was there in the beginning, it is still there in many, the people are weak in spirit but you can give them strength across the world to hold on to that love they had.

I still believe in Syria. I still believe in the people of Syria and I have ever reason to. My safety is in their hands to this day, to this day Syrians across the country protect me, give their lives to care for me. I will never be able to return the favour of what the people of Syria do for me, and I know the spirit of those who I have loved who has passed on are always surrounding and protecting me.

We all want to walk the streets of Syria freely once again, we all want to smell the sweet jasmine in the gentle evening breeze once again, and globally we need to be a part of the change.

There is no question hate is spreading across our world, the illness as I refer to it as called racism and religious intolerance from lack of understanding is on the rise. We have very sick people in our world who live by prejudice, and the only way to fight this is through a peaceful means. Through education, patience, and sharing peace and love in every step of our life we can teach those less educated about our world so much.

A wall in Kafranbel, Idlib, Syria

A wall in Kafranbel, Idlib, Syria

Weapons whether physical or verbal bring us pain and take us all to a dark place. Our world is big enough for us all to share. Our world has beautiful experiences we should all be able to share and I may be a dreamer, but our dreams are as alive as we make them, and I would prefer to journey through this life focusing on the love and sharing those experiences.

We are all humans, remember that. We are all part of the destruction across our world and we are all responsible for change. We all can be better, more loving souls every day and we need to work on that progression. Syrians taught me how to love, how to have inner peace, how to become a better person. Syrians showed me what love truly meant in this world with their kindness towards me, a strange to them in the beginning. Syrians deserve our love, and they deserve us to be showing the human face of the country much more.

With that I shall close on another note, from October I will no longer be working for mainstream media, I will be truly freelance again as I was in the beginning. I have always stayed freelance, but been drifting to too many contracts that do not give me satisfaction in what I do. I will no longer play a part in the role of the media giving minimal time with no care for the human story. I know that what the public want to see more, yet mainstream media continues to lack behind the public calling.

I will continue what I do but I will do so for anyone who wishes to take the time to see a human side of a story and I shall only be sharing human, civilian only stories from now on. If mainstream media wishes to take my stories they can do so as it is without editing my stories in any form; not that I have ever allowed anything from me be distorted to become a lie. I need to get back to human only stories as I began. These are the stories that matter in our world, the people deserve a voice. I ask you to do the same and together let’s keep peace and love spreading in our world and let’s keep the face of humanity alive.

Thank you for reading this if you have got this far… Truly thank you.

Peace and Love always…

Yasmin x

Islam…

Islam – the most controversial religion & topic in our world right now.I don’t like to turn a story into one that is about me, I like to stay private in my work as I think most will know, so I apologise in advance as I am turning this blog to be one that is about me to get my point across to you.

From the beginning of the crisis in Syria I have continually stayed on the ground with little time out the outside. To this day it remains the same. I have watched first hand this crisis changing, evolving, darkening. One thing has remained the same however; the true good people of Syria have remained loyal to assisting me, supporting me, protecting me, and respecting me.

Most of my time is spent with families. Families who are truly suffering within the war who are trying to cling to their dignity. I have stayed with families through their losses, tragedies, heartache, movements; each struggle that is faced within a war. Even through all of this they insist on caring for me. They insist on taking me in, giving me a place to sleep, feeding me and to this day it is a fight for me to try to give them anything in return.

I have argued with women trying to force me to wash; I have reservations as I do not wish for them to waste what little water they have on me washing when I just do not care when there, yet they force me. Come to think of it maybe that is for their benefit & not mine after all!

I sit with families that have such little food yet with their culture insist on giving all they can to me. I sit with their children who I can see are hungry & unhealthy yet even the children want to force feed me with no thought for themselves.

I am greeted with a love so rare; a love & bond that is indescribable. I am fought over on where I sleep as the children always like to sleep next to me. I am hugged & kissed in overwhelming amounts when I am welcomed back. I am cried over when it is time to say goodbye to a family to move to another area. I have gifts stuffed into every crevice of my bag; kids drawing for me & writing me letters, items now amounting to boxes weighing down my friends on each border awaiting a time I can get everything home.

I am sharing these small glimpses of life because this is the true face of Syrians; this is the true face of Islam. Anyone who has spent time with a Muslim family will know of the kindness; you will know of the bonds & the love created and I am quite sure you have never experienced such kindness, or situations of being so ridiculous full from eating too much with aching muscles from laughter too. I am most certainly not the only one with these experiences naturally, it just seems few speak out in public about it all.

Now, I am sure there will be some rather critical souls reading this who will be seeing me as a promoter of Islam or something alike. I do not promote or support any religion to be quite frank. I have my own spiritual beliefs in life, I simple believe in giving peace & love in all we do. I do have a problem with hate and lack of understanding in this world which makes me feel a need to speak as I am now. I have no disagreements with any religions; only with hypocrisy. I respect anyone living truly to their religion, everyone has their free choice in this world to be who they want through religion or no religion as far as I am concerned.

I do not hide who I am to anyone with my beliefs, and I am accepted for who I am and loved for who I am. Why? Well, the people truly living by Islam do not impose their beliefs upon another and accept another for who they are. As in any religion; it should never be imposed.

When I speak with people about why they still care for me, why they still protect me; they are putting their lives on the line to protect me – a stranger to their family for whom they could all be killed for; they simply do it naturally and find humour in my asking as it is just normal for them to do so and they are completely oblivious to the depths of what they do in caring for me.

It is no secret a lot of the world has a deep fear of Islam. Sadly Islamophobia is rapidly on the rise in every country. I am faced with conversations continually from people whom I can find little respect for when they feel a right to argue me about Islam and why it should be gone from the western world when they themselves have not even spent time with a Muslim; let alone visited a Muslim country. The lack of educated minds in our world is mind-blowing at times.

There is no question that the self-proclaimed Islamic State and other groups alike should be feared. There is no question they are involving themselves in terrorist activities. The thing that is forgotten is that true Muslims are not representatives of them. They know they are not Muslim and their practices are far from the practices that are stated in the Quran. They are simply a terrorist organisation masking under the name of a religion that does not belong to them.  The self-proclaimed Islamic State is a deeply complex matter to understand in itself, I shall leave that one aside for now.

Mainstream media is sadly an instigator for such hate rising in our world. While I work in the industry it does not mean I agree with much of what is done. There needs to be vast change in media & I do hope I see it in my lifetime. The term terrorist has taken a turn in the media to be one that is put into use when it is a person of Islamic birth roots committing the crime. The often happening school shootings across America from born Christians or otherwise are acts of terrorism, the tragic plane crash recently in France was an act of terrorism carried out by an individual, the beheadings of civilians are acts of terrorism, the Syrian regime dropping barrel bombs across Syria are acts of terrorism. There are continually acts of terrorism across our world. Terrorism comes in the form of all religious backgrounds, all colours, all countries.
Please think before you speak; please learn understanding because the hate being spread in our world is more terrifying to me than being in the midst of the most complicated battles within Syria could ever be.

A true person of Islam echoes the kindness & love I mention above on how I am cared for. This is the real face of Islam and this is a majority worldwide.

We are dividing our world. We are placing barriers between religions, the colour of someone’s skin, their country of origin, their sexual orientation & how another chooses to dresses. We are all responsible for the crisis in our world. We are all part of the problem and we all need to be taking steps to bring a change for the better; for the future in our world. We need to be removing these barriers that many have fought against through history to bring unity globally; yet here we are wishing to regress our societies.

I would not still be alive on this day to write this if it were not for the good-hearted souls representing what Islam truly is. In times of trouble in Syria there have been people who fought for my safety, Muslim people, there was no reward for them assisting & protecting me. They did not even want it to be known that it was them who helped me.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are issues within every culture; deep issues that need to be rooted out.  There is no such thing as perfect and everything takes hard work in our world. In the end hard work will always pay off. What we do need is a worldwide unity to tackle these challenges.

Lay down the hate and think. We are supposed to be educated individuals advancing in our world yet we seem to be plunging downhill.

Thank you to the beautiful souls I know worldwide from all religions backgrounds and countries; and a very special thank you always to the true people of Syria for all you do for me.

‘Calling all Humans’ – an inspiring read.

I want to share this beautiful poem written by an inspiring young lady; Tanisha Ahmed. She first wrote to me when she was 13; now at 15 she has written this and sharing it on Monday 23rd March in New York for a poetry contest.
I feel very proud of this young lady, who she is and who she is becoming every day. She sent me this to share with her nerves about reading it aloud, she has a vision that is just heart-warming; full of love and care for humanity and a strong passion from when she first wrote to me to care for humanity and do something for our world.

Please read and share your thoughts, I would love for Tanisha to be able to see the support and love there is across the world.

I have no question this girl is going to go very far in life and make a big difference to our world. Through every email she shares with me I see it more and more and can only smile greatly with love that I have been lucky to know her. She is full of wisdom beyond her years from the first day she reach out to me and it continues to grow wonderfully.

I cannot upload it here in the same format as she has it, but please do read it below, it is beautiful to see the young in our world, the future with such love and passion to have these feelings to write something as this.

My love to you always Tanisha; where ever I am you are thought about often and inspire me daily. x

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Calling All Humans

O my beloved sisters and brothers whom walk the soil of this Earth with Me. Yes! It’s true we are different in our color, in our race and in our Creed.
But what does all that matter when every one of us bleed the same. Do We not all bleed red? Or do we?

So listen close to my words.

I am Calling All humans. For I have an urgent message to deliver. On Behalf of the oppressed and impoverished and voiceless people of the Earth.

Listen.

For wounded souls speak.

Say.

Do you wish of a world with only hate and injustice?

A world with no love nor any tears for anyone’s bloodshed.

A world in which the wrong is seen as the right and the truth is known As the lie and the good are looked at as the bad.

Do you wish of a world where people blame God for the doing of evil Despite the fact he has given us everything to live equal?

A world where people remain silent against the oppression of people.

But I’m sure you wish of such a world because isn’t this the place you Call home?

I mean just how can you want to keep enjoying your time, while Knowing there are children in this world bleeding and even when you Waste your money on useless things, when you could have given to Someone in need.

Wake up O humans for humanity is calling to you in need!

Just look at Palestine where prayers are used as weapons against those Thieves who hid behind their guns and tanks shooting them at the Palestinians as if it’s “no big deal.”

Wake up O humans for humanity is calling to you in need!

Masjid Al-Aqsa awaits for you to set it free!

And surley Wallahi: By God we will set it free.For freedom is the only Language we warriors of God know how to speak.

Speak! Speak louder and raise your words with rhymes of justice and Peace that even the most toughest and most stubborn of mountains Will submit and salute you before your knees.

For your word is deep like the wounds of a child. The temporary Wounds on their skin but the everlasting wound on their heart as they Waited for your help.

O you whom see’s with your heart instead of your eyes. Let’s call upon Our lord as one nation our lord whom gives and gives whom Generously. O lord Al-Karim give us Noor: light in our hearts to make us Aware and O lord send us Arc Angel Azrael just too bare witness of our Prayers. For we dream to be amongst those you love.

O my dear sisters and brothers that I call upon in sincere need!

The screams are screaming for you so take heed!

Your triumph is there, turn no more blind eyes to the impoverished and Oppressed but beware for the strongest weapons in the entire universe For amour and protection is not that of blood and of steel but rather a Voice for the voiceless and a Mother’s prayer.

For there is no barrier between them and God.

فَقِيرٌ خَيْرٍ مِنْ إِلَيَّ أَنزَلْتَ لِمَا إِنِّي رَبِّ فَقَالَ

Fa qaa la Rabbi inne lima anzalta ilayaa min khayrin faqeer (24) Al-Qasas

“My lord indeed I am for whatever good you would send down to me in need.”

And indeed God will give a mighty victory to those who stand for justice!

Ameen.

By: Tanisha Ahmed

4 years later in Syria.

As I spend another anniversary in the country I decided this year to spend it with those who matter the most. The civilians. The displaced families internally.

Amidst the ruin of Syria I sit with Abo Omar & his wife Marwa while their 2 boys rummage around the room they have taken shelter in. They lost their home and eldest son Hamoud nearly 2 years ago when a government mortar hit their civilian populated area. Marwa was badly injured and has since recovered. This is the 5th building they have had to move to within Syria in the past 2 years, a sad trend that many can relate to within the country.

I first met Abo Omar over 3 years ago. Laughter was plentiful, his children chanted & danced among the crowds pulling me in to join them in dance with the joyous excitement of what they saw as a festival atmosphere. Vibrancy gleamed within the crowds, drums echoed through the streets with song that was haunting, the re-established flag to represent a Free Syria weaved within the people with a unity that many saw as unbreakable.

‘I was proud to be Syrian before, but not today. Look at what we have done to our country.’ As Abo Omar titters he proceeds to opening his Facebook on the cracked screen of his aged mobile. ‘Look, we even fight over what day the revolution began.’ he shows me the talks many have been indulging online about the date and origins of the revolution.

Abo Omar spent close to a year with the then Free Syrian Army, his commander and once friend from 10 years prior was whom he pledged his allegiance. They fought fierce battles to free Homs together, they wept together over their lost brothers in battle, and celebrated together over few minor victories they would achieve back then with what little weaponry they had.

‘I could not agree with him on many decisions, the first was when he wanted us to torture and kill prisoners we had from the army. I did not join the Free Syrian Army for this. I joined to protect my children, my country.’ Abo Omar had then decided that this would not be the continued path for him.

Abo Omar started working with others to help bring in medical supplies, food and other items urgently needed in the besieged city of Homs through dangerous smuggling routes across from Lebanon that was extremely limiting to what they could bring.

His then commander has gone on to become a Jabhat Al Nusra leader, now fronting battles for greater land and power.

The family depend on what little handouts they receive through locals working to help with food and clothing. They live on minimal water they share with 5 other families in the large home that was long abandoned with its true owners unknown. Families have each taken a room and made it their home as they wait; they do not even know what they are waiting for.

Marwa, Abo Omar’s wife, once a school teacher now spends her time trying to interest her children in education to occupy their minds. The boys do not go outside and do not attend the local mosque or schools that have been arranged by some which have been known to entice recruitment &a rather extremist teaching of Islam.
‘It is not safe for our children to go outside. They like to take boys their age and teach them very bad things. God willing something will happen soon so we can live in peace again.’ Marwa continues to tidy their small room as we talk to form a sense of normality in the discomfort of her obvious despair.

They do not hold passports, one of the biggest problems facing the people of Syria making it extremely difficult for them to travel, leaving them little opportunity. Abo Omar paid $3500 to obtain passports selling what little belongings they had after losing their eldest along with their home; part of that money was their wedding rings they sold; however like many from Syria they never saw these passports nor the people who they arranged the deal with.

‘What can we do? Beg on the streets of Turkey or Lebanon? What can we do? If I had the money I would even try to send my wife and children on the boat to Greece.’ Abo Omar pauses to sip his coffee to mask his shaky voice from the depth of emotion.
‘I had a small shop. Children would come after school and buy sweets. I was able to feed my own family, now look at us.’

4 years later and a country left predominantly in rubble. Millions of civilians are left with little to no voice; a voice veiled by the armed struggle in the country.

While this story is a simple one on some levels within the complexities of this war; it is however the largest story of the country, it is the story that vast numbers echo.

The voice of millions of civilians who are left displaced and with the branding of refugee is the voice that is off the true Syria and I give my life on it that this voice is a beautiful one of care, a kindness that cannot be found across the globe with ease, and it is a voice that deserves our human affection across the world.

Untold emotions in Syria…

“Now there is only blood and murder.” – the poignant words delicately spoken by Mohammad in Syria as he recalls his memories before the troubles of Syria. “My days were so beautiful with my friends, studying and working, we laughed so much.” ; reminiscing yet unable to evoke a smile with such thoughts.

Mohammad had joined the revolution from the beginning and has battled in some of the fiercest battles in the country. He also helps at a police station trying to bring order and a policing system to be respected by all in the region; a gruelling task amidst the chaos of the country.

Protest in early 2012 in Syria.

A different energy; a protest in early 2012 in Syria.

I first met Mohammad over 2 years ago, and have watched the deterioration to his personality and mind frame. A young man in his early 20’s with boyish charms, full of energy, laughter, and joking often; he now carries a colossal weight of overwhelming emotions he can only hold internally. His smile forgotten and health taking a rapid deterioration with a diet of cigarettes and coffee in excess with little else; like many of the men in Syria now.

As the crisis in Syria rages on, the focus is all too often on the horrors of the war lacking anything in-depth on the emotions being suffered within the people of Syria living through this nightmare. Young men like Mohammad seem forgotten in all of this, and are only allowed to be strong men, fighters, warriors of their country; they suffer through torture, violence, scenes of devastation more than anyone in Syria, at times they are subject to sexual violence within their torture suffering severe humiliation, when they are not in suffering they have an abundance of pressures placed upon their shoulders; caring for their family, providing food for them, shelter for them, being the figure of strength is all that is expected of them with the cultural pressures, only now there is the added pressure of the most devastating crisis in our world.

Countless people have lost their lives in this war in Syria. Countless men have lost their lives fighting for their country in what was a revolution that began over 3 years ago. A branding of ‘Jihadi’ as an umbrella term is the perception they know is given to them forbidden to hold any emotion. These same men who first picked up arms done it to defend their area, to protect their family, yet the progression of this crisis in Syria has escalated past anything they imagined changing their lives into a never-ending horror story; that is for the few who are left from the beginning in 2011.

It is no longer a battle against a regime for them, it is also a battle against an ever-increasing list of armed groups, extremists and their fellow country men who even once fought by their side. Battles they never envisioned with the unity that was once so strong against the regime in the beginning. Many have lost their lives, left the country to try to have a life seeing no future in Syria for now, or turned to extremist groups.

These men once had lives the that echo globally; nights with friends full of laughter & memories to be recounted again and again, tales of love; flirting with girls in university, exchanging love notes with girlfriends in private, dancing through the night at their friends weddings, celebrating their holy holidays with grand family gathers, and all the typical things that young men do in their life across the globe. Many would have no clue of how to use a gun, let alone be able to name the many kinds of weapons as they do now in Syria. While these are all relatively simple things I speak off in day-to-day life, these also have serious repercussions on the mental state of these men with all the pressures they face today.

It is not uncommon now for many to wish for death to come knocking on their door now with different reasons; naturally the extremists are often speaking of death to come their way, as do all fighters as a general in the culture being ready to die proudly for the fight they choose, I am sure terms such as ‘Allahu Akbar’ with videos of beheadings will sadly come to the minds of people who may read this uneducated in the culture to understand my point in what I am trying to convey. There is however a much more serious reason and that is from PTSD, depression, exhaustion and all the stress that they have to endure, stresses that have also been the product of some suicides in men from Syria, with suicide being something far from common in the culture.

The extreme exhaustion of the tragedy they are witnessing daily is simply too much for them, sleepless years have now gone by, never-ending trauma in their beloved country, and those far distant memories of the joyous life they can just about recount now are all simply too much to bear.

Through all of this Mohammad holds a kindness in his heart, an innocence and a deep care for the people in his country. He has not turned to corruption or any criminal activities. He asks me to please see a family he knows who really have nothing and shares just how awful it is for them as there is no man left in the family and they struggle too much, “Is there a way to help them?” he pleads to me.

Mohammad is a young man suffering terribly through this. Determined to help his country, yet at a loss now on what the future shall be, far too grown beyond his age with pains that will never leave him, knowing that his future is in turmoil whether the fighting ends tomorrow or not.

If friends have not been killed, they have left, changed to extremist thinking breaking bonds that once existed, some friendships unravelled earlier in the revolution with the pressures of choosing legions to the regime or a free Syria.


Funeral1
Another day, another death. His close friend of many years, from before the revolution has been killed.

“I just wish to die to not feel anymore pain.” expressed in a state of sheer exhaustion as Mohammad leaves to his friends burial.

 

(Real name has been changed to be Mohammad in this blog)

 

Paris Marathon for Syria!

This Sunday (6th April 2014), I will be running the Paris Marathon. I am running it to raise funds for the people of Syria, whom need the worlds support to get through this crisis.

I have recently left yet another trip to Syria, yet another one of much heartache, great distress, further problems, severe hunger, lack of health care & medical facilities, the list is endless. If I am not in Syria then I am in a border region where millions of refugees now reside; struggling for survival.

Yasmin Al Tellawy - Syria

Getting my equipment stolen in Syria by this cute little one! Photo credit: Thanks to Minka Nijhuis

I have worked in Syria for over 2 years now, if not in Syria, then in the neighbouring border regions with the Syrian communities. I have witnessed tragedy that I never thought could exist in our world, I have watched scenes that I would never wish upon a soul to see. I have encountered many families, many children who I grew close with in this war after they took me in on my travels inside, offering me all the love a person could dream off and more; many have since passed on.
I have countless stories and experiences of overwhelming pain that families have & are suffering through in Syria.
I could rhyme off a million and more tragic tales from Syria, as can every soul living in the war, and every soul who has spent a great deal of time within the war. I could share heart wrenching images and footage, but I choose not to.

Instead I will tell you of the good within this crisis. I have been blessed with love I never could have imagined existed in our world.  I have been given kindness that is truly indescribable within Syria, from families who have nothing, yet still reach out and want to give to me, want to care for me when I am in their company.
I have seen strength that has inspired me, warmth that has inspired me to be a better person and do more for our world.
That love & kindness inspired me to set up Globally United . That love and kindness also gave me the strength to deal with many personal challenges in recent years.

Yasmin Al Tellawy

The front lines of SalahAlDin, Aleppo, Syria

Every time I am in Syria I sit in awe as the few families left in some areas in their homes that are ruins, without electricity, heating, food with grief in their hearts somehow reach out to me and want to care for me, a stranger, and one who wants to hear their stories of tragedy they are experiencing. They open their doors with welcome arms and give me what they can, and what safety they can offer to me when undercover in such dangerous situations.
It all may sounds so simple to you reading this, but it is this love that pushes me forward, it is that love that has made me sign up to do something rather silly like the Paris Marathon this Sunday.

YasminAlTellawyKids

This little girl is full of so much love & too many cuddles! A refugee now from Aleppo, living in Kilis. Photo credits: Max Aderman / Larissa Neick

Globally United has assisted so many families now, individual cases, and over 300 victims of rape, sexual assault & other sexual related crimes and many more cases. I have been able to watch young girls who were once in tears wishing for an end to their lives now smile and go to school with dreams of great achievements I know they will get.

I owe a great deal of thanks to the people of Syria, they families who assist me when inside Syria; who let me stay with them, who share great deals of love & care to me.

I owe a lot of thanks to those who I work with in each region of Syria, who take much time to care for my safety & have assisted me beyond necessity in times of danger.

I owe much respect to the families who were only civilians in this war who reached out to me in my time working in Syria who have sadly since passed on.

I also owe my deepest condolences to all those who have lost family across Syria, to all those suffering and for being a part of this world, a world where I believe we should all be one; a world where we should all be reaching out to help one another in need.

I see much growth happening, communities coming together for schools, PTSD assistance, prosthetics assistance, fathers getting back into work and able to support their own families again, rescue teams in Syria who are volunteers only who give their lives to rescue civilians after attacks, there are endless lists of great work being done, progression and ability to get people back on their feet again, and this is what we must focus on, this is what is important now. The people of Syria need so much more assistance like this, and this is what it is all about.

As a human being in this world I reach out to you to please donate and assist the people of Syria for humanity.

Anyone who knows me will know I have no care for politics of religion, these boundaries are not anything I am a fan off in any way, I am a fan of humanity only, and my beliefs in life are simple; spread Peace & Love in our world.

www.youcaring.com/marathonforsyrians

Every penny counts. If you can donate $5, or $500 it all matters, it all makes a big difference to help those in need. Please donate, please share at least, please do what you can!

My efforts to assist are little, I know this, but this is a little way in which I am trying to help. I have no training at all to be running a marathon, my fitness is, well, non-existent to be honest, and I have a bad knee that likes to play up every now and then, yet I will endure through this marathon, even if it takes me 2 days to complete, I will do it because I have the strength in my soul from all the Syrians I have met and had the blessings of their love.

Please reach out, please help. Every penny counts and we can all make a difference to help humanity.

If I end up crying like a baby by the time I reach 5km begging for it to all end, contrary to my big claims of I will do it no matter what then I do apologise in advance, and ask for forgiveness in advance! (joking…!)

Please also join the event page I set up on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/256242801225245/

Thank you to those who have been so kind to donate to the marathon fundraiser, and to the organisation I have been so blessed to be a part of with some of the most incredible souls working tirelessly to assist the people of Syria. It really has been so touching to me the support I have had setting all of this up, and to those who have reached out and donated, and shared this widely, thank you from all of my heart, you are amazing!

Together we can really make a difference in this world, and really change the lives for the better of those Syrians who need the support now.

With Peace & Love,

Yasmin x

http://www.youcaring.com/marathonforsyrians

Homeless in Kilis; an influx from Syria.

Kilis, Turkey has recently received a vast influx of Syrians seeking safety after recent bombardments of Aleppo.

A mother cries with her children as they stand with their few belongings wondering where they can go.

A mother cries with her children as they stand with their few belongings wondering where they can go.

On any given evening you can find a lady crying on the cold streets of Kilis with her children with a heartbreaking story of survival and loss to tell you.

Kilis refugee camp is full, and there is no other place for Syrians to go. They are finding themselves on the streets with nowhere to go, many finding themselves with no place to pay their heads but on the streets of Kilis.

Syrians are huddled into empty shops, abandoned garages, and anywhere else they can go. Each evening you can find an abundance of Syrians sleeping in the bus station, while day-by-day they are constantly passing through trying to find a place to go.

1000’s of Syrians have entered Kilis in the past week, and the constant stream of people needing assistance certainly has no end in sight.

Around 50 Syrians huddle into this small space together to sleep

Around 50 Syrians crowd into this small space together to call this abandoned shop home for now.

Huddled together for warmth in an empty shop with over 50 people sleeping tightly packed together a young man shares with us his struggles, he has children to feed, along with his wife, and parents to care for. Even thought he is well educated he is unable to find a place to rent at a cheap price and more importantly work; the common tale for Syrians in neighbouring countries.

A woman assists her husband who is an amputee due to complications with diabetes to use the toilet; where is the toilet? It is a small bucket in the open public amongst Syrians outside of the local bus station; they no longer have the opportunity to even keep their dignity. Her husband has no insulin left and they are left with the streets to sleep trying to find a way to go to Istanbul where they hope for a better life.

KILISYASMINALTELLAWY

Young girls cry as they share their pains from their suffering and loss in Syria.

Aa a young girl cries, she tells me just one simple sentence as she struggles to get her words out from her tears, “I just want us to be one again in Syria”, she continues to share how she misses her father and older sister who has been missing for 2 months now & they have no idea where she is. 

Such simple words she shares with such an impact, a girl of just 14 years old, years ahead in maturity, like many children from Syria now, and a simple message of hope for us to be one in our world. Her tears are an overwhelming abundance of pain. There are few children from Syria who are not holding pain in the hearts nowadays.

Syrians entering Turkey from Bab Al Salam border crossing as the sounds of gunfire echo in the air.

Syrians entering Turkey from Bab Al Salam border crossing as the sounds of gunfire echo in the air.

Standing at Bab Al Salam border, or in Kilis refugee camp you can often hear the fighting a short distance away, a sound that no longer makes children shudder in fear, a sound they are much accustomed to at this stage. The only question I seem to get is where is the help for them they hear about so often in the media? Where is all of the money? Where is the UN? A long list of the same questions I have had thrown my way for the past 2 years now.
I sadly have no answers for them as I am unable to find a UN presence offering hands on assistance past wanting to gather the stories of tragedy for their records, there is a great lack of support for the Syrians who have recently fled Syria, I can only find local collections of people trying to help, and my own organisation now trying to offer what assistance we can.

Thousands have entered Turkey through Bab Al Salam in the past week, with thousands more having had to take dangerous, illegal crossings as they do not hold passports & they recently stopped allowing Syrians to enter without passports.

I found an elderly lady crying in the streets of Kilis with her hand badly cut open and clothing torn after a dangerous and scary journey for her, she injured herself on the barbed wire leaving Syria. She cried saying she had done nothing wrong, her home was destroyed and she had nowhere to go, what can she do.

There is no sight to an end to the war in Syria, a minimum of around 6000 people are leaving Syria daily, many with nowhere to go and millions displaced.

I cannot quite describe what it feels like to see people starving, cold, scared and with no security in any way. It leaves me sleepless, it leaves me with guilt, it leaves me to only wonder what on earth is happening in our world and why are we 3 years into a war in Syria, nearly half of the country having fled for assistance elsewhere, and countless dead. How on earth is this possible.

I don’t meet any Syrian in Kilis who has just crossed without a terrible sadness to share with me, they just lost their child, their wife, their husband, all so fresh and without time to even heal from their pains as they have to instantly struggle for survival on the streets of Kilis.

Homeless in Kilis.

Homeless in Kilis. A young Syrian girl finds herself on the streets of Kilis having recently left Syria.

From the young children to the elderly, every soul of Syria has their story and every story matters in our world. Every soul matters in our world.

These people coming to Kilis right now, and across every border are the people who matter, the civilians, those who are important and forgotten often in war. Please think of the people.
Nobody should be homeless in our world; a world of such vast resources, grandeur and wealth that doesn’t seem to hold equality.

I will share more from Kilis shortly, things are just very busy right now and I wanted to share something in this moment. All I can ask is for one simple thing…

Remember humanity in our world. Please.

WWW.TRUTHPEACELOVE.ORG

أنس الزير – Anas Al Zeer: Missing in Syria

Anas Al Zeer is the commander of Youssef Al Azmah brigade in Idlib. A Free Syrian Army group. He went missing on the 25th October 2013.

Anas Al Zeer

Anas Al Zeer, commander of Youssef Al Azmah Brigade, Idlib province

So who is Anas?
I first had the pleasure of meeting Anas early in 2012; he was among the first commanders who took me to Idlib & Aleppo on my first trip to the north region of Syria.
Anas took good care of me, along with the men of his group. He showed me kindness, and a respect that can be hard to find being a female in a war-torn country.
Anas introduced me to a wide variety of people, a mix of those within the war with conflicting views, yet all sat together to discuss the future.

Over a dinner he took me to, Anas insisted I sat beside him at the table with all the men, while to more religious men in attendance were somewhat confused, Anas wouldn’t have it any other way. We continued to enjoy a nice dinner with everyone, the only problem was I was overfed by Anas and the others, to then have to eat all over again with the women.
He gave me great respect at all times from near and afar. Anas was keen to show me the true Syrian personality.

Anas Al Zeer

Dinner with Anas in Idlib

Anas showed me what many have shown me in Syria and surrounding, the beliefs of a true person of Islam. Anas was in the revolution of Syria out of a belief to protect those around him from a corrupt government. Anas believed in showing the truth of what was happening in Syria.

Anas tried to ensure I stayed in comfort when with his brigade, and gave me a great feeling of safety when I was with his group. Laughter was shared time and time again, and we would have lighthearted arguments because he wouldn’t let me pay for things, nor would he take money from me when I was with his group, something that is rare within the groups of Syria now upon entering.

Later in 2012 I ended up in grave danger while in Syria due to someone spreading serious lies in an attempt to have me killed, lies that would get anyone killed in a war-torn region; an added danger being a foreign journalist. While in Aleppo there was a hunt for me, and my phone, Skype and who I was with was contacted by Anas continually, who heard the wrong doing and knew of the danger to me, he was very upset for me and wanted to help me to safety to ensure I got out of Syria on this occasion. I haven’t spoke about this situation, nor do I wish to go into the details currently, but I wanted to mention it because Anas took it upon himself to want to help me for no reasons past having respect for me in knowing I was there to help Syria as far as he was concerned. This was the character of Anas.
Anas swore to help me in any way during a time I was a blank on what to do. I was kept safe on this occasion and hidden for some time to get out safely, while Anas took it into his hands to rectify the situation where he could so it would be known that the lie was indeed this and nothing more. This wouldn’t be the only time Anas would assist me in safety thereafter.

Anas Al Zeer

Anas Al Zeer

Anas was the first person to take me to Aleppo, long before it became a haven for journalists to be, long before anyone would dare to go to Aleppo while it was government controlled primarily, and long before journalists saw a story in the region to want to go.
Anas would take me safely and ensure I would not encounter danger, giving his life to ensure nothing would happen to me, and I knew he would mean it and proved himself many times with this loyalty. A loyalty he believed in showing what was happening in Syria, wanting the world to see what was happening in his country; a trust he held in me to show the world what was happening in the country.

He contacted me often and would check if I was ok knowing of my travels in other regions of Syria, we would chat via Skype about the situation in Syria and I always saw the man behind it all; a man with a heart and a man with a conscious. A man who had to become a commander; who had to become a leader, a man who was a merchant living his life quite happily with his wife and kids until a threat came to his village that he felt he had to protect his family, those around him and beyond.

Anas Al Zeer

Anas Al Zeer

In 2012, Anas was injured badly and rushed to Turkey for treatment, I got a call that brought me to tears thinking it was time to say goodbye. He had been shot a couple of times in the leg while at a battle. During his recover he would chat to me on Skype and comfort me in my sadness for him, I was unable to visit and hoped to soon but was in the south region on Syria when it happened and by the time I was able to visit Turkey he had insisted in being carried back to Syria to recover and said his men needed him there along with his family so he would continue to recover there.

It is hard to explain sometimes the bonds that grow fast within a war. There have been people I have spent a day with, yet feel such a bond with that can never be explained. I have been lucky to spend much more than a day with Anas over different periods of time, and have been very thankful to him and his group for the safety provided to me.

He would joke with me that we should sell each picture for a dollar and share the money and how we could make a fortune out of it as he laughed with the young men around him.

Anas Al Zeer

Anas showing some of the men lost in battle from his brigade.

I would see the sadness in his eyes when other groups didn’t share things, arguments between groups and all these other issues the war in Syria brought over time. He liked to joke and would be frequently laughing with the young men around him, and have tears with great pain from his close friends he had lost as he proudly kept their pictures on display where he could.

Children adored him as he would laugh with them and give much affection as we traveled around.
There was even a bond within the men of his group that is not so common in Syria with the groups of such friendship, respect, loyalty, and love.

Anas Al Zeer

Anas Al Zeer

I last spoke with Anas at the beginning of October 2013.

Later into October 2013 Anas was abducted. What exactly happened is yet to unravel.

Anas was in Idlib; planning to go to Sarmin, he had to go to Ma’arrat Misrin first, this is where he was last seen.
A friend of Anas asked him for coffee, Anas replied that he had to go to Sarmin, and would come and have coffee with him when he got back. This is the last that has been heard of Anas. Anas has been reported as kidnapped from Sarmin.

He was driving a black Kia Sportage; the two men with him also vanished along with the car. Nothing has been heard, or seen of them since the end of October when they went missing. All that is left is a trail of heartache. The point is that nobody goes missing, let along three people and a car with nobody having information about the incident.

There are hundreds who have been kidnapped by ISIS and others, not only are foreigners a target for such groups.
Anas was a strong believer in the revolution, the core meaning of the revolution of Syria and stood by these beliefs, he didn’t partake in the general corruption most groups fell into, he tried to do things right, which also led to him being a greater target. He would make attempts to stop the bad groups, bad smugglers and all else that comes with a complex war such as Syria. He stood by his beliefs.

Anas was a merchant prior to the troubles in Syria, A young man in his early 30’s, he had a happy life with his wife and three young children, along with his brothers, sisters & parents. A loving, educated family that I have been lucky to get to know.

Anas Al Zeer

Anas Al Zeer

If you have any information about Anas please share what you know.

Let Anas go home to his loving family, to his young children who miss their father, to his heartbroken wife, to his family who are living every day in pain because they do not know what has happened to Anas.

I don’t know where you are right now Anas, but I want to thank you for everything always and will go as far as thanking you for the future, because I believe the time will come once again when you will assist me to do my job in Syria and do what is right.

I would love to share much more about Anas and my time with him & his brigade but I am unable to at this stage, but hope to in the near future.

There are hundreds of thousands missing in Syria for various reasons, and more so recently so many kidnapped, but each had their own story, each a human in our world and each as important.

We all have different experiences with different people in life, this is just a small part of my experience with Anas and what I saw in him. Anas assisted many journalists who came to Syria to show what was happening in the country.

Anas Al Zeer

Right: Anas Al Zeer

Anas has a good heart, a kind heart, a true heart in his beliefs.

Let Anas be free.

Reports lead to ISIS / ISIL for the abduction of Anas Al Zeer. He is possibly held in Aleppo (Halab) or Idlib. Any information you may have would be greatly appreciated.

Syria, سوريا, Siria, Syrie…

Whatever way you say Syria in your country one has to wonder what is there to say anymore that has not been said hundreds of times previously.

The answer is still the same no matter what way you look at it; there is no answer right now.

Numbers continue to amount daily in a seemingly never-ending death toll. Children weep for mothers & fathers taken by the war, parents weep for children taken before they can even hear them utter their first words or see that precious moment of their childs first steps on this earth.

Syria Refugee

The children of Syria

Millions are scattered across the globe with a destiny destitute to a life of struggle regardless of whether the war would even miraculously end tomorrow. Millions living under cloth in dusty, dirty grounds that is their haven, their sanctuary; the place that is now called home. If they are a slight bit fortunate they have a young child able to skip education who can work with all the others in the family through slave labour, earning less than what it costs to keep their family going, and their unfurnished or partly furnished apartment they are charged 3 times the rent just for being Syrian.

Children cry in hunger while their mothers hold back their own tears watching their hungry little ones in an attempt to show them strength to get through this difficult time, but the veil is but too thin, the children have already witnessed atrocities that should not be in the views of anyone in this world.

World leaders continue to stage discussions over the war of Syria, costing millions for a wondrous pre-planned show of talks staged so eloquently. Millions of dollars that could be saving lives, but the best suits must be worn, best foods & wines and all the delights must avail in luxurious resorts while the media gloriously battle for the best shots that will end up across social media edited accordingly to make fun of the powers of our world. Meanwhile, the people who truly matter in all of this, the millions forced to flee Syria and the millions trapped within the war trying to stay alive are none the wiser to any of these supposed events to assist Syria, let alone the outcome of the aid apparently being sent their way.

Syria; a country steeped in ancient history, artifacts studied of across the globe, lands that existed long before half the countries across our world who are apparently helping to make decisions for Syria, sites of great wonder visited by millions across the globe, and a hospitality never forgotten that stays in the hearts of those who got to experience Syria & the true people of Syria.

I could show you an endless supply of graphic imagery & footage our world has become rather immune to as we share it across social platforms with our sympathy, I could tell you all the stories of my time in Syria, kidnappings, arrests, near misses, lucky escapes and wonderous tales of survival and assistance and build up a fantastic amount of followers on twitter, Facebook and elsewhere; but I don’t simply because my story is of no importance, and nor will it bring any change sharing to you such graphic imagery that has truly become a norm to see from Syria worldwide. The war is too far gone and at this stage we must focus on the people of Syria, the surviving people of Syria and focus on their future which is not being done enough. Their tales of survival are all that matters and their future is all that must matter to the world.

The only thing I do want to share to you on a personal note while I work in Syria and surrounding is that I learned of love in Syria and from the people of Syria. I learned great lessons and continue to daily from the people of love like I could never imagine, kindness I could never describe. When someone is at their worst, tragedy all around and yet they will insist on taking me in; a complete stranger to them and give me hospitality better than that of my most loved ones I have known for years, it is beyond incredible and what inspires me to ensure I share the story of the people from the human side; the one that matters most.
The murder I witness, death, injuries, starvation and all the other frontline tragedy that comes with my work has taught me nothing but love, the need of love in our world and the great chaos our world is in to have these scenes I watch live. All I know from this is that it should not be happening under any reasons.

Syrian girl in refugee camp

A smile of love from a beautiful little Syrian girl who is now a refugee.

There is only one true gift that each of us hold in life and that is the gift of love. We have a great power to show love, give love and spread this across the sphere. I ask you to spread your love to the people of Syria, the people who need it most right now. I ask you to give what you can to help Syria, each and every soul can do something to help the people of Syria, in turn helping humanity, helping our world. Please focus on the love and share your gift.

I share this as I founded an organisation with some incredible souls this year to assist Syrians in need through special long-term projects, as well as urgently required aid where possible. In 2014 we plan to make it a lot bigger and improve how we assist and expand the amount of people we can assist.
We focus on victims of rape from the war and sexual abuse, PTSD in children, neo-natal care and have just started with setting up a long-term work program for Syrians, giving them work along with work with our organisation. We also assist with many individual cases for the Syrians who are often left out of the picture when not in a refugee camp and lacking the assistance they need from medical supplies, education needs and much more.

Please check out our website http://www.truthpeacelove.org and spread the word. Please reach out and assist if you can, and if we are not suitable for what you feel your needs are to assist Syria then please get in touch, we can direct you to a range of incredible organisation doing fantastic hands on work who need great assistance too. Please focus on the smaller NGO’s when donating to Syria and assisting in any way; we all need your help and are always doing much more work than the large organisations.

Don’t forget about Syria this holiday season, and make a pledge to do something to help Syrians in need.

Spread Peace and Love daily in every aspect of your life daily…