Samaritan’s Purse provides necessities, comfort, and hope for refugees traveling through Europe.
November, 2015—Ibraheem Alsaad didn’t want to leave his home in Syria. He and his wife Nisreen were teachers at the local primary school. But when ISIS surrounded their town, the school closed, and they lost their jobs. They suffered for eight months as ISIS cut off their access to electricity and then to food. Finally their home was destroyed and they had no choice but to take their three young children and flee.
“No future in Syria, so we go on this adventure to Europe for life,” Ibraheem said.
They traveled from Syria to Turkey and, from there, took a boat to Greece. It was a small dinghy with 45 people on it, and each person paid at least $1,000 to board. The rainy voyage took 1.5 hours. The only relief was that the children were so sleepy they didn’t cry.
Their boat landed on Lesbos Island, where Samaritan’s Purse staff greeted the refugees and distributed basic necessities—food, water, and dry clothes to the wet children. Samaritan’s Purse was there to help in Jesus’ name. We comforted panicky parents and soothed crying babies. The chance to stop and rest for a few moments enabled Ibraheem and Nisreen to calm down before pushing forward.
From the coast, Ibraheem’s family made the 35-mile (60-km) journey to the other side of the island. Then they registered and took a ferry to Athens. From there, the typical journey is through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, and Austria. Nisreen wants to go to Germany. Ibraheem doesn’t care so much where they end up. He just wants to feel safe and be able to teach again.
“I am tired from the moving, the going from place to place,” he said.
Ibraheem’s family warmly received the assistance from Samaritan’s Purse.
As refugees continue their journey, Samaritan’s Purse has stops along the way, where we’re extending the compassion of Jesus Christ. In Macedonia, our evangelical partners are giving out backpacks full of food, hygiene items, blankets, and toys to the children.
“We are very grateful,” said Samira, whose two sons received backpacks at a transit camp just across the Macedonia border.
At the camp, refugees board buses or trains to the Serbian border. Again we have partners there distributing food before the refugees make their way to Croatia.
In Croatia, we’re dispensing food and backpacks similar to the ones in Macedonia. We have established four hand-washing stations in the transit camp and are disseminating hygiene messaging to prevent disease from spreading while people are in such close quarters.
Ibraheem’s journey has just started. He has at least five more countries to pass through, and he doesn’t know how far they’ll get.
“We don’t know the road, and our money may be finished before we reach [our destination],” he said, “but there’s no choice.”
Although he doesn’t know whether he’ll make it to safety, Ibraheem said he has to try. Once he’s settled again, he hopes to find his brother and sister. They all fled in different directions.
As for the future, Ibraheem isn’t optimistic about returning home. He said he misses Syria, but he won’t go back unless the war ends.
“There’s no hope in Syria,” Ibraheem said. “Maybe kids go [back] there. Maybe I die in Germany. I don’t know.”
His focus now is on his children, ensuring that they can receive an education and, perhaps, one day return to their homeland. Wherever they end up, he hopes they find peace.
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1, NKJV).
- For Ibraheem and his family and the thousands of refugees like them, as they travel to Europe, that ultimately they will find hope and peace in Jesus Christ.
- For our ongoing ministry to the refugees, especially as winter descends.
- That the war in Syria will end and people will be able to return to their homes.