X

“Santa of Syria” Smuggles Toys into War-Torn Aleppo to Bring Children Joy

For the past five years, 44-year-old Finish-Syrian Rami Adham has dedicated his life to helping the children of Aleppo cope with the horrors of war by smuggling toys into the besieged city.

Rami Adhman was born in Aleppo, but moved to Finland with his family in 1989. When the Syrian civil war started, in 2012, he decided he had to help the children of his native city in any way he could. In the beginning, he never planned on taking toys, thinking that food, medicine, and drinking water were the things that mattered most. However, on one occasion of crossing the border, his daughter told him she wanted to donate her toys to the kids of Aleppo. He took the girl up on her offer, and upon seeing the joy on the Syrian children’s faces when he took the toys out of his backpack, he decided to make them a priority on his subsequent runs.

Adham soon became known as the “toy smuggler” and the “Santa of Syria”. He has so far made the journey from Helsinki to Aleppo 28 times, and doesn’t plan on stopping until the war ends. Until two years ago, he crossed into Syria through the border with Turkey, but after it closed down, he started crossing into the war-torn country illegally, carrying an 80kg bag of toys on his back all the way to Aleppo. It’s a dangerous trip that he has to make by foot, because it’s dangerous to drive through rebel-held and government-held districts. But those aren’t the only forces he has to avoid, as he claims that his humanitarian efforts have also made him a wanted man by ISIS and Shia militias in Syria.

Read More »

“Cat Man of Aleppo” Cares for Hundreds of Abandoned Felines in the War-Torn City

The Syrian city of Aleppo is probably the most dangerous place to be living in right now, but while many of its residents have left their homes to escape the war, one man has remained behind to care for the hundreds of abandoned and stray cats.

Known as “the cat man of Aleppo”, Mohammad Alaa Jaleel has been taking care to stray felines ever since people planning to leave the city started leaving their pets in his care, knowing he loved cats. As the fighting and bombing intensified, more and more frightened animals started approaching him for food and protection, and he was always more than happy to provide them with both.  Mohammed says he started taking care of about 20 to 30 cats, but the number of feline refugees at his walled sanctuary has now swollen to over one hundred.

Read More »