BY Vincent Lyn

With Mohammad Khair Alkhousi trusted driver, tour guide all around fixer and dear friend

Syria the country known as the cradle of civilization. My global travels to 120 countries Syria was certainly on the top of my list. Not so much because of its ancient history but because of the inhumane war that has plagued the country, it’s people and especially the innocent children since 2011. Personally it certainly has not been an easy task. It’s taken me nearly 3 years and being denied the visa 4 times. But I am steadfast and once I put my mind to something I never give up. I knew it was in my destiny to go to Syria.

It was going to be an adventure unlike anything I’d experienced before. Most likely thwarted with elements of danger and veritable sadness. Syria has gained the notoriety of being the most dangerous country in the world for over 5 years in a row. With how bloody and murderous the war has been it’s no wonder. I flew into Beirut, Lebanon and my colleague, friend, tour guide and and all around fixer Mohammad Khair Al Khousi picked me up and we set off on the two hour drive to the Syrian Frontier Border. In tow were 5 large bags of clothes weighing 160kg that I had brought along with me for the needy children of Syria. Arriving at the Lebanese border there was a crowd of people blocking the road. It was October 17, 2019 the day the demonstrations and protesting began throughout Lebanon. People were yelling and screaming banging their fists on cars and then the sound of gun fire went off. Mohammad quickly reversed to find an alternate route. We tried again only to be blocked by the Lebanese military. On a third attempt we finally got through and arrived at the Syrian border. We sat at customs for more than 3 hours only to be told by Mr. Al-Amin Director of Customs that we couldn’t bring the donations in because I didn’t have the correct paperwork. So the bags sat in customs for more than a week but eventually I was able to pick them up and give them to the Child’s Rights Society in Damascus where they will be handed out to the most needy.

Here with Mr Al-Amin Director of Syrian Frontier Border Customs

Arriving in Damascus that evening I was beat but so energized and Adrenalin was pumping who could sleep. We spent a couple of days in the capital city and what a beautiful city it is. Damascus by the grace of Allah was spared the onslaught and devastation many of the other cities experienced. They had many mortar rockets fired from the Terrorists held neighboring city of Ghouta which received International attention because of the sarin gas attacks on civilians. Mohammad lived in Ghouta which is 20 minutes from Damascus and in 2012 when the Terrorists attacked laying siege to the city. His home was destroyed and he had to get his wife and three young boys to some kind of safety. So he headed for Damascus and had to start life over again from scratch having lost everything leaving it all behind. Mohammad and his family were the lucky ones unlike so many others barbarically killed. No one was spared the onslaught from the Terrorists. Though some people in Damascus were killed the city was spared thank God. They certainly tried but were held back by the Syrian Army.

Here with Mohammad Khair Al Khousi in front of Crack des Chevaliers — Crusader castle one of the most important castles in the world. First inhabited by a settlement of Kurdish troops in the 11th century.
Inside the Crusader castle there are both parts specifically built for both Muslim and Christian religions.

What was to become a never-ending and surreal experience for me witnessing unimaginable destruction seeing town after town, city after city laying in ruins. Ghouta, Homs, in Aleppo being woken and the hotel shaking from heavy artillery being fired by the Syrian Arab Republic Military into the city of Idlib the last stronghold of the terrorist groups. Crack Des Chevaliers and seeing what ISIS did to the World Heritage Site of Palmyra. Desecrating the ancient ruins that have stood since the 2nd century.

Here with Lama and Mohammad at Wanes restaurant in Aleppo

We were having dinner in a newly rebuilt section of Aleppo with News Reporter for Syrian TV Lama Khaly. She just came back from the Syrian Turkish front lines. Aleppo is the second largest city in Syria formerly a city of 4 million now 2.8 million. More than a 1/4 have been lost to the conflict. This city suffered the most. The fighting ceased here end of 2016 and they have been slowly rebuilding but half of it is uninhabitable. It’s catastrophic! What’s more astounding is Lama was saying that only 30 min away in the city of Idlib 4 major terrorist groups are engaged in intense fighting the closest one only 20 min from where we are to the Northwest of Aleppo. Yet we sit in this nice restaurant and I look outside and life goes on. As they say “we must continue living and enjoy it even though at any moment it could change.” I was floored as you can well imagine. But we might as well enjoy it!

Beautiful tree-lined streets throughout the capital city of Damascus and lets not forget President Bashar al-Assad his image that adorns cities, shops, and highways throughout Syria.

We have all seen news worthy images seared into our memory from the 8 long years and ongoing war of the carnage and suffering of the Syrian people. But I was overwhelmed, in utter disbelief and shock. Walking through the rubble of cities literally flattened and unrecognizable by both barrel and incendiary bombs, mortar rockets, aerial bombardments, IED’s and the use of VX chemical weapons sarin, white phosphorous, chlorine-outlawed by the Geneva Convention. No country in history has experienced such devastation on a magnitude not seen since WW2.

With all of this a beautiful country so decimated, it’s the Syrian people that are not only resilient but tenacious and it is because of them that Syria will once again rise from the ashes. On a more personal note it’s the innocent children that I feel for the most. A generation that have lost their childhood to an unrelenting bloody war.

It started raining as we make our way south from Crack des Chevalliers to Homs and my mind started wandering. We’ve been traveling throughout Syria from north to south east to west literally hundreds and hundreds of miles visiting Damascus, Gouta, Homs, Aleppo, Crack, Palmyra the size of the destruction and devastation of this once beautiful country is unimaginable. And yet there are times driving throughout the countryside the beauty resonates.

The Citadel built in the 12th century AD is a large fortified palace in the centre of the old city of Aleppo.

Speaking with the Syrian people it’s very apparent how much they have suffered and continue to suffer. A country that has been ravaged for 8 long years of war and is still going on. A million lives lost all for what. Greed, power and money. Men, women and innocent children’s lives all expendable. It hurts to witness this but I am here to seek the truth. We have been lied to so much I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs. Scrolling through FB one forgets for a moment that the world keeps spinning and other peoples lives go on living. Being here it seems so inconsequential to me. What people are eating, or how their children are doing at school, some stupid meme, a photo that you took at a restaurant. It seems all so pathetic in the big scope of things. It is not for me to pass judgement but it’s just how I’m feeling right now. I’m very glad I’m here and have met some extraordinary people who’ve shared their painful stories with me.

While I was in Aleppo a city destroyed beyond comprehension it’s a city that is one of the first inhabited cities of the world over 6,000 years old. It’s history is vast. A major trading place that spread throughout a vast web to cities across the globe. I wanted to see the The famous Baron Hotel that opened in 1911 but no longer open. It sustained damage during the war but it’s guests are a list of veritable mammoths. The second floor of the hotel has witnessed the presence of political leaders and numerous cultural icons: Lawrence of Arabia slept in room 202 (there is a copy of his unpaid bar bill displayed in the hotel); King Faisal declared Syria’s independence from the balcony in room 215; Agatha Christie wrote the first part of Murder on the Orient Express in room 203. The Presidential Suite was occupied in turn by Charles de Gaulle, King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Syria’s former President Hafez Al Assad, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (the founder of the United Arab Emirates), and the American billionaire David Rockefeller. Other notable guests include Dame Freya Stark, Julie Christie, Mr and Mrs Theodore Roosevelt, Kemal Ataturk, Lady Louise Mountbatten, Charles Lindbergh, Glenn Richer, Gertrude Bell and Yuri Gagarin.

The Baron Hotel opened in 1911 sustained some war-related minor damages but is still standing though no longer open for business

The Al-Madina Souq is the covered souq-market located in the heart of Aleppo. It’s within the walled ancient part of the city. With its long and narrow alleys, the Souq is the largest covered historic market in the world, with an approximate length of 13km or 8 miles. It’s been completely destroyed. They’ve rebuilt about 200 meters of it to its original beauty and that has taken two years.

Syria is an incredibly beautiful country with an amazing history and civilization. But for me its always about the culture and its people and unequivocally I can say I feel blessed to be able to be here. The suffering is unimaginable as I have explained but its always the innocent children who suffer the most. I will leave you with the story of meeting Ibrahim and then you’ll know why I started my foundation.

Here with colleagues and staff at the Child Rights Society in Damascus.

Ibrahim has known of only war. Another orphaned child of the remnants of a bloody inhumane war. Ibrahim is 8 years old and born when the crisis began. He doesn’t remember his Father as he was killed in action fighting for the Syrian Army. His mother fleeing for her life and no where to be found. He was eventually taken in by his Grandpa. Sounds ok but no! On my way from Damascus to Aleppo some 6 hour drive we made a pit stop at the half way point in a small town called Salamiyah. There was Ibrahim hanging around this rest stop/snack bar carrying a big potato sack. I asked Mohammad who he was? He told me the story and that the owner of the place allows him to hangout and scrounge whatever he can especially aluminum cans to sell nearby. Ibrahim smiled with me and though somewhat shy was very sweet. He never begged or asked us for food or anything while we sat there for more than an hour having a drink and snack. We left and waved goodbye and continued our journey onto Aleppo. Two days later heading back to Homs we stopped at the same snack bar and there was Ibrahim wearing the same t-shirt and jeans carrying the sack. He recognized me and smiled once again. Only this time I offered him an apple juice that I was given from the hotel. He thanked me accepted and drank it.

Here with Ibrahim in the small town of Salamiyah, Syria.

Mohammad and I sat down and chatted with the owner and I then went to the car and got a pack of Swedish fish and my baseball cap. I gave him the bag of candy and he sat down between the both of us. I adjusted the cap and placed it on his head and he smiled. I had many questions that Mohammad translated to Ibrahim. Sadly he cannot take the cap home otherwise the Grandpa will sell it. But the owner said he will be able to keep it at the shop for him to wear. Meanwhile Ibrahim scrounges to get money for his Grandpa.

It is so heartbreaking the horrors that Ibrahim has had to endure. How can we in the West have an inkling of his suffering? We simply can’t! And yet there are tens of thousands of Ibrahim’s here in Syria. A crime against humanity. God Bless him and keep him safe. Allah Maak.

For me there is no doubt that I will return to Syria and continue my work and help the innocent children of Syria. They can count on it. Inshallah.


Vincent Lyn

CEO/Founder at We Can Save Children

Director of Creative Development at African Views Organization

Economic & Social Council at United Nations

Rescue & Recovery Specialist at International Confederation of Police & Security Experts



CEO-We Can Save Children. Director Creative Development-African Views Organization, ECOSOC at United Nations. International Human Rights Commission (IHRC)

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Vincent Lyn

CEO-We Can Save Children. Director Creative Development-African Views Organization, ECOSOC at United Nations. International Human Rights Commission (IHRC)