Thousands of residents were shocked when their neighborhoods were taken by force on March 15, 2011. Mothers and fathers were murdered in the streets and hundreds of children were left orphaned on the horrific day. As the Syrian civil war rages on, many of the countries youngest citizens are forced to live in refugee camps where food and water are scarce. Even in the midst of such devastation, one man is putting a smile on orphaned kids’ faces.
Rami Adham was born in Aleppo forty-four years ago but spent his childhood in Helsinki, Finland. Although his family, which consists of a wife and six kids, is not in immediate danger, Adham feels the pain of his Syrian brothers and sisters. “I was very saddened by what was going on,” he shares with media. “As a Syrian, I wanted of course to do my part in helping people … so I decided to go there myself.”
Adham initially planned to take food and money for those in need but his 3-year-old daughter, Yasmeen, inspired him to do something else. “She said, ‘I have toys, I can give you some,” Rami explains. The toddler then began taking out toys of her own to give away. Yasmeen’s spirit of liberality definitely caught on as the first delivery of toys brought to young Syrian refugees was made up of valuables that Adham’s kids contributed from their collection.
Rami has crossed the Syrian border nearly thirty times since deciding to bring a bit of joy to those living in unrest. The Syrian native has encountered several perils along the way and has even carried toys on his back during the 3,000-mile trip from Helsinki to refugee camps. It is no easy feat but Rami gets pleasure out of seeing the kids’ expressions when they find out the “toy smuggler” has come bearing gifts.
Rami’s personal efforts have morphed into a foundation called the Finland Syria Community Association. The organization holds toy giveaways and recently began construction on its fourth school in Syria’s refugee camps. Such project, when completed, will give more than 2,000 the opportunity to reach higher heights and deeper depths in academia.
Even with an organization supporting his idea, Rami insists on crossing the border to personally deliver goods to kids. “I’ve given a kid $10 and they don’t really know what to do with it,” Adham reveals. Toys help children mentally and emotionally.