2016 Olympian Azad Al-barazi is trying to help Syrian refugees fleeing to Greece. Al-barazi, who holds dual Syrian-US citizenship, is an LA County ocean lifeguard and a University of Hawaii graduate who has chosen to volunteer his time this winter helping those displaced by the war in Syria.
In the video below, Al-barazi explains the perils that refugees fleeing war-torn Syria face on the open ocean. As he points out, casualties are high. Al-barazi, in addition to his years of experience serving as a beachfront lifeguard, has medical experience and is bilingual–skills he believes he can use to make a difference and save lives–but he needs help to fund his mission.
If you want to contribute you can via PayPal – [email protected] or Venmo – azadalbarazi.
Help send olympian Azad Al-Barazi to Greece to save refugees. Please share with friends and family pic.twitter.com/OBajPGH8pB
— Azad (@azadalbarazi) December 1, 2016
While Al-barazi represented Syria in Rio at the 2016 Olympic Games, two other Syrian swimmers participated as members of the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team. Rami Anis and Yusra Mardini both swam in Rio after fleeing Syria. Yusra Mardini became a center of media attention over the summer after winning her preliminary heat in the 100 butterfly in Rio. Mardini’s inspirational story illustrates the plight of many refugees fleeing the Middle East for Europe–the motor of the boat she was traveling in died miles offshore of Greece, forcing Mardini and her sister, Sarah, and two others to get in the water and push the boat to shore. Considering her bravery, determination, and accomplishments in Rio, Mardini was named one of Time Magazine’s most influential teens of 2016.
Mardini and the others on her boat survived their journey, though many others have not and continue to perish in the open water, and this has struck a nerve with Al-barazi, who is self-funding his trip to Greece to aid in the crisis and hopefully save lives. If you want to contribute you can via PayPal – atbar[email protected] or Venmo – azadalbarazi.