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Syrian Refugee Feeds Berlin Homeless as Way to Give Back to German People

Despite having lost everything, a Syrian refugee is doing his bit to return the kindness extended to him by German locals. For the past year, Alex Assali has been serving hot meals to the homeless in Berlin in order to “give something back to the people that helped him.”

Assali arrived in Germany in 2007, after fleeing Damascus on foot because his life was in danger for posting negative messages online about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He changed his name, adopted a new identity, and did his best to become not a burden but a blessing for his adoptive country. Since August last year, he has offering free food to those less fortunate than him.

A photograph of Assali standing on the side of a busy street, behind a table laden with hot rice, gravy, and bread, was recently posted to Facebook by his friend Tabea Bü. She revealed that Assali sets up a table outside Berlin’s Alexanderplatz station every Saturday and serves about 100 homeless people. The photo was shared thousands of times, and Tabea said they were overwhelmed with the positive comments.

Alex-Assali

Photo: Tabea Bü/Facebook

I cannot begin to understand what he went through, but I’m so glad to have met him and to see what he does,” she wrote on Facebook. “He really has lost everything; he had to leave his family back in Syria because people wanted to kill him. Even though he doesn’t have a lot, he goes on the street and distributes food to the homeless. His motto is ‘give something back to the German people’… God bless him, he is a blessing for so many more.”

One of the signs posted on Alex’s table reveals that his is part of a Syrian Christian project to help the homeless or anyone in need in Germany. “Our target is to give something back to the people who helped us,” it reads. “We are not consumer people but we are people who love tender. We want to be a positive part in the German community. Want to be one hand (Syrian and German citizens) to help the others and help each other.”

Alex-Assali2

Photo: DPA/Bild.de

“Yesterday, I was allowed to go with him and help, I am so fascinated by this man,” Tabea Bü wrote on Facebook. “Yeah, so I have this feeling like, God bless him as he is a blessing for so many more people! THANK YOU ALEX! ” Her photo eventually found its way on Imgur, where it has been viewed almost 2.9 million times.

Since then, Tabea said that both her and Alex have received supportive messages from all around the world.

Following all the attention he got online, Alex was contacted by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, for a short interview. “When I came to Germany, all the people were friendly and welcoming to me. They helped me learned the language and showed me around the city. On my first day in Berlin, when I came from Frankfurt, I couldn’t find the refugee center, so an old lady took me by the hand and led me there herself. Many German gave me something. Now it’s my turn to give something back,” he said.

Alex-Assali3

Photo: DPA/Bild.de

“I know what it’s like to have nothing, to lose everything, to live on the streets. I can understand the plight of the homeless in Germany and I I feel very close to them.”

Alex Assali studied computers in Germany, and currently works as an IT engineer. His favorite hobby is cooking.

Sources: Huffington Post, Hounds & People, Süddeutsche Zeitung

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