I'm the CEO and Co-Founder of Karam Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Syrians in need. Programs include emergency aid distributions and education programs for Syrian refugee youth. I recently gave a TEDx talk about my work – check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNGwTNtaU3k. We are currently in the middle of an emergency aid campaign for children in Eastern Ghouta, you can donate: https://give.karamfoundation.org/campaign/emergency-campaign-for-children-of-ghouta/c158405.

Looking forward to our event in San Francisco with comedian, talk show host, and activist Chelsea Handler – you can get your tickets: https://give.karamfoundation.org/events/-/e165812!

Proof: https://twitter.com/amalhanano/status/972506565294116867

Comments: 57 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

[deleted]4 karma

[deleted]

TheRealLina2 karma

My favorite part of my job is when our team is able to witness that the work has impacted lives in deep and significant ways. It's very hard to have hope and continue when the crisis keeps getting worse. But I learned that every life you help matters so much. We have hundreds of refugee teens at Karam House in Turkey who have a place to dream, build, and create a future because of our work. It matters to all of them every day. You can check out Karam House here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEHC8Oa65tk

[deleted]0 karma

[deleted]

TheRealLina2 karma

Thank you so much! You can read all about our work here: www.karamfoundation.org.

HaywoodJablomiMD4 karma

What do you think about refugees staying in middle eastern countries? Like putting pressure on Saudi Arabia and Turkey to take in refugees. Do refugees want to stay closer to their homeland and culture?

TheRealLina7 karma

I think all countries including the ones in the Middle East should open their borders to refugees who are fleeing war and terror. But more importantly world leaders must work to end wars and violence so that people can stop becoming refugees in the first place and so refugees can return home. That's what all refugees really want — to live in peace in their homes.

HaywoodJablomiMD2 karma

So do you think NATO or the UN or something should ban together and rebuild Syria and get rid of Assad?

Edit: Also what do most the refugees think the international action should be?

TheRealLina3 karma

I think the international community should work in the interests of the Syrian people to end the violence and destruction of the country, protect civilians, and bring the perpetrators to trial for their war crimes. They should also be part of rebuilding Syria for all Syrians. Most refugees want to return to their home and live in peace and dignity.

Zomborz3 karma

I see a lot of conflicting opinion on Assad. Many hate him yet I see others, including one I found who's a syrian journalist who seems to effectively counter argue many points used against Assad here in the west when he's mentioned, and I haven't kept up but during one of the chemical attack accusation periods I saw some very convincing arguments that the Assad regime wasn't as guilty as many were jumping to claim. Was a lot of things out of place, like lack of solid motive.

What's the humanitarian perspective of someone inside Syria? Is the Assad regime doing any good that goes unmentioned? Also, there seems to be from what I saw, a strong Pro-Assad opinion among people who fought. Is that a regular thing?

TheRealLina1 karma

We should look at the facts: the vast majority of the death and destruction in Syria have been caused by the Assad regime and its allies. Is the Assad regime doing good? Like holding hundreds of thousands of people in prison? Like bombing civilians every single day with barrel bombs and worse? Like displacing millions of people? Or like allowing terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Nusra fester, organize, and terrorize Syrians daily?

TheRealLina3 karma

Thank you everyone for your awesome questions!

jasonwirth2 karma

As an American I’ve never been confronted, nor have had to be concerned with, the possibility of becoming a refugee. What are the misconceptions that people like me have about the refugee experience?

TheRealLina6 karma

I totally understand that feeling. And guess what? Every person who has become a refugee never confronted or had to be concerned with that reality either. That's something we should all really think hard about when we see refugee stories on the media. They are not another kind of people that we can't relate to, they are us. Nothing separates you or me from being a refugee except our passports — the sheer luck of where we were born. Another thing to remember about the Syrian refugee crisis in particular is this fact: 7 years ago there were ZERO Syrian refugees in the world. Today there are almost 6 million. Every one of them of them had homes, lives, communities, families, etc. Not one of them imagined they would become refugees, fleeing war, and unwanted across the world.

Lilgnome1231 karma

How did you find yourself in this line of work? What did you do before the protest movement and war?

TheRealLina1 karma

I co-founded Karam Foundation in 2007, well before the protests began in 2011. I'm also an architect by training. Before the war, I was focused on building Karam and working on my writing.

jasonwirth1 karma

So if the population goes from zero to 6M where does everyone go? Also, the when someone finds them self as a refugee how do they get help or find a community?

TheRealLina3 karma

They are mostly in the neighboring countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan. Refugees seek help from international aid agencies - the biggest is UNHCR. Countries have various refugee resettlement agencies that help people settle into their new lives. But once refugees find a new home, the local community is the most important factor in helping people feel welcome. That's why everyone should seek out refugees in their communities and see what they can do to help. Refugees often need help with language tutoring, transportation, helping kids with homework, navigating how to do essential things from getting a drivers license to shopping for groceries. There's something for all of us to do locally.

sos_12 karma

What is Aleppo?

sos_12 karma

Sorry I was actually joking about the Gary Johnson thing.

TheRealLina2 karma

You would be surprised at how many people still don't know what Aleppo is or was.

Chtorrr2 karma

Can you tell us about some of the kinds you've helped?

TheRealLina1 karma

We help tens of thousands of Syrians inside Syria and Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and the United States. We focus on children, teens, women, and families.

Chtorrr1 karma

Are there any stories that have really stuck with you from any of them?

TheRealLina1 karma

Absolutely! There are so many unforgettable stories of refugee children I have encountered over the years. One of them is a refugee teen named Raghad who lives in Reyhanli, Turkey. Raghad wants to be a writer. She has a incurable genetic disease that eventually causes blindness. Despite that she is losing her sight, she is focused on her college entry exams and wants to go to university to pursue her dreams as a writer AND a doctor. This 17-year-old who has been through so much teaches me about resilience and perseverance — to keep going no matter what.

TheRealLina3 karma

Omar, a Syrian refugee boy, impacted my life forever a few years ago. I tell his story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNGwTNtaU3k

Mantisbog1 karma

Wouldn't the Karam Foundation make more money if it were for profit?

TheRealLina1 karma

Our organization is not about making money but making impact on as many people's lives as possible.

Mantisbog1 karma

Couldn't you impact more lives if you made more money though?

TheRealLina1 karma

Being for-profit doesn't necessarily mean raising more funds.

ILoveSteaks011 karma

My question is this: what are the challenges of carrying out NGO/non-profit work when foreign policy does not line up with what you're trying to accomplish? What are your ways to combat that?

TheRealLina1 karma

The most difficult part of our work is that our long-term goal is to build a better future for Syria through investing in innovative education for the youth but the conflict constantly creates emergency situations that we must respond to immediately. We have to balance between working on the long term while being in "emergency mode." We can't stop providing emergency aid to Syrians inside as long as they are living under siege and bombs.

Peng151 karma

I heard conflicting things about the white helmets. Can you clarify?

TheRealLina1 karma

What appears to be "conflicting" reports are really just a few smear articles stemming from a few people who are determined to undermine the extraordinary and heroic efforts of this group of over 3000 Syrian civilians who risk (and give) their lives to save people trapped under the rubble after airstrikes. To date, the White Helmets have saved almost 100,000 Syrians.

bertiebees1 karma

What kind of weapons can we in the west sell Assad to make sure Syria pipelines go in the right direction establish peace and stability?

TheRealLina5 karma

I don't think providing more weapons is ever the path to peace and stability. We must stop the violence and protect civilians. There will only be peace when the violence stops.

bertiebees1 karma

So we take their weapons away?

TheRealLina4 karma

A nationwide ceasefire must be implemented to protect civilians and allow humanitarian aid agencies to delver aid and medical relief to the millions of suffering Syrians — especially right now in besieged Ghouta.

Cheese_ConnoisseurLZ1 karma

What is the event going to be like in SF with Chelsea Handler on Friday? And will cheese be provided?

TheRealLina3 karma

The event on Friday at WeWork in SF is going to be cool, informative, moving, hilarious (we have Chelsea Handler!), and a lot of fun. There will be great food, drinks, and Cheese! It's really not to be missed. Get your ticket here: https://www.karamfoundation.org/chelseadoessf/

Cheese_ConnoisseurLZ1 karma

Wow- this seems like a great event. What drew you to San Francisco?

TheRealLina2 karma

We have always wanted to have an event in San Francisco as it is the tech and innovation hub of the world as well as great, compassionate people who want to make a difference. These qualities are very close to Karam's work and values. We are so excited to be there this week!

SamSamHaz1 karma

Why do you only help Syrians in the areas controlled by rebels? Do you have any ties with rebels? What’s your relationship with Kenan Rehmani the Rebels lobbyist is US?

TheRealLina2 karma

We actually help Syrians across Syria — in both regime-controlled and non-regime-controlled areas. I do not have ties with the rebels or the regime. Our work is purely humanitarian. We believe that freedom, dignity, and the right to self-determination is the right of every human being on the planet. Kenan is a friend.

SamSamHaz1 karma

Could you please mention any projects in Syria ( controlled by government)!

TheRealLina2 karma

Currently, we support schools/learning centers in Homs, food/winter projects in Aleppo (the city), women projects in central Damascus. We have done many other projects over the years in areas across Syria and before 2011 as well.

SamSamHaz1 karma

Could you please mention a verifiable name? School name? Project name?

TheRealLina1 karma

Mentioning names and specific locations put staff and students at risk.

annatherose1 karma

Why are you and Chelsea coming together in San Francisco this Friday?

TheRealLina3 karma

We are SO excited that Chelsea will be supporting Karam Foundation for the second year in a row! This year we will be in SF along with WeWork raising funds and awareness for the Syrian refugee crisis. Chelsea has been fundamental in her support for our Jumpstart program that helps Syrian refugee families in the US start building a better future for themselves.

annatherose0 karma

Can I still buy tickets to the event?

SROTDExplorer1 karma

Hey there! If you had to recommend two books [one fiction; one nonfiction] that you love, or had some impact on your life, what would they be and why?

TheRealLina1 karma

One of my favorite novels is A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. It is one of the most powerful books I have ever read about the aftermath of civil war in Chechnya. The plot and prose are perfection. https://www.amazon.com/Constellation-Vital-Phenomena-Novel/dp/0770436420/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520866861&sr=1-1&keywords=constellation+of+vital+phenomena+by+anthony+marra

My favorite, recent non-fiction book is Alia Malek's The Home that Was Our Country. It is essential reading for anyone who's interested in the modern history of Syria. Alia writes beautifully and powerfully as she intertwines Syria's national history with her personal family history across the last century. https://www.amazon.com/Home-That-Was-Our-Country/dp/1568585322