Aleppo's Expatriates: "Only Knowledge Can Counter Extremism"

23 July 2014


Since March 2011, the organized, yet non-hierarchical uprising in Syria has succeeded in mobilizing millions of citizens in mass protests, and turning their apathy into a sense of purpose. Later, as the nonviolent movement started to diminish in favor of armed resistance, many civil activists found themselves in a perplexing dilemma: to either take part in the armed conflict, or to sit an watch as events dramatically unfolded. Activists, however, soon found other means to support their cause. “Aleppo’s Expatriates” is a fine example of peaceful activists’ perseverance and devotion to the goals of the uprising.

Aleppo’s Expatriates is a humanitarian aid group, comprised of close friends who share a common vision. They started working early in the uprising by providing shelter and support for displaced people in Aleppo, as well as other cities.

The group is active across the country and in refugee camps. They have launched relief campaigns in the countryside of Idlib, Homs and Damascus, and others to help refugees in the Lebanese border city of Arsal.

The team’s enthusiastic approach and dedication are noteworthy, but there is more than meets the eye. The team does not only provide food, medicine and clothing, but also caters to important tasks that require the effort and financing of major governmental institutions. Their work has included reforming damaged houses, launching education campaigns in liberated areas, equipping shelters and wells, providing alarm sirens, as well as establishing a study group for developmental projects.

Additionally, the group finished working on the “Strategic Food Reservoir” project. “The reserve is stacked with essential food items, like lentils, oil and sugar..” One of the initiative’s co-founders says to SyriaUntold, “We are trying to anticipate the upcoming challenges imposed on Syrians, and take precaution accordingly.”

The team has given a great deal of its attention to education. It has focused most of its effort to on reforming and fully equipping schools, including the Ain Jalout and Om al-Qura schools. “We believe that education is the key, because we are aware that our battle against tyranny and extremism will only be countered with knowledge.” The founders articulate.

Om al-Qura School equipped by Aleppo's Expatriates. Source: the group's Facebook page.
Om al-Qura School equipped by Aleppo's Expatriates. Source: the group's Facebook page.
Although humanitarian work has been subjected to heavy critique in Syria, the team remains as dedicated and zealous as ever. They continue to challenge the mounting pressure and threats, including the loss of one of the group's founding memberss, Ahmad Khalifa. His friends and team members speak of him with great melancholy, and describe his relentless efforts to deliver relief aid, in spite of being targeted by a sniper more than once.

Aleppo’s Expatriates does not receive any sort of funding, which preserves the project’s integrity and independence. It sustains its campaigns and projects through voluntary and ongoing monthly contributions by the group's members. 

“Hand in hand, we will build a society where hope is nourished, and creativity and civic action can thrive” is the message of Aleppo’s Expatriates. 

Follow Aleppo's Expatriates on Facebook.

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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad