|Youssef, (Founder) a Bay Area resident for over two decades, enjoys living in the East Bay and connecting with awesome communities. One of his many passions and goals in life is making positive contributions to this world, and this is a great opportunity to fulfill his goal.|
|Kathryn (Co-founder) is a self-employed science and math tutor living in San Francisco. Originally from Northern Virginia, Kathryn has been in SF since 2000. She is really excited about this opportunity to help out with this crisis, and to hopefully make a positive difference in the lives of the refugees.|
|Amy (Co-founder) is a San Francisco Bay Area native eager to help with the refugee crisis. A natural leader, she energizes her community and encourages enthusiastic support for various projects. She is continually looking for ways to expand her work with humanitarian and local causes.|
My name is Youssef, I am a Syrian native raised by a large, warm, and loving family with nine sisters and four brothers in the capital city of Damascus. There was much love, affection, compassion, and support shared and exchanged in my family, and for millions of other Syrians throughout our country.
My immediate and extended family, like many other Syrian families, was impacted by this catastrophe. Millions continue to sustain the pain and loss of loved ones. I have lost many nephews and cousins to this war over the past five years.
I recently lost a brother and his 22-year-old son to a missile attack in Damascus. My brother needed an urgent operation and because the missile hit his sieged town, he was not able to get to a nearby hospital in time and bled to death. My nephew did not suffer as much as his father because he died instantly from the missile’s impact. This tragedy left my brother’s widow and her six children homeless and without support.
I am sharing my story to illustrate how lucky many of us are to live a life in peace, while others can’t find a place to sleep. I want to acknowledge the privilege we have to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature, while others hear nothing but the sound of explosions, and the sight of death all around them. I want to remind all of us that we should not take our freedom for granted; there are millions of people on this earth who lack the very basic rights of freedom.
With the support I received from my community and strangers alike I was inspired by the noble work of fellow humanitarian volunteers to start an independent volunteer initiative in order to travel abroad and support the situation first hand. Our first journey was to Lesvos, Greece. We put our funds to use providing financial assistance and resources to families in order to ensure a safer passage to Europe. My friends Kathryn, Cindy, Amy, and Lisa joined me on this journey and helped transform SURF into a reality.
There is so much beauty and generosity in this world, yet so much ugliness and greed. Let’s hope the world will become blind to status, nationality and circumstances and make the right choices so everyone can have a better future on this planet.
*Dedicated to my brother Rafeek and my nephew Zakariya, may their souls finally be at peace.