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Crowd-sourcing project based in Bay Area seeks help for Syrians

Five Percent Movement via www.fivemovement.org
One of the projects on the Five Percent Movement website is for school rehabilitation.


The conflict in Syria has been raging for three years now. While other Arab countries witnessed the "Arab Spring", Syria's spring hasn’t happened yet. The government is shelling territory held by rebels – the Free Syrian Army – and it's gotten so messy with other militant groups infiltrating the country, that it is a completely chaotic situation.

Some Syrians, including Syrian Americans, have lost hope in any political process to solve the crisis, and have found other ways to help their country from right here in the Bay Area.

Zaid El-homsi is one of them. He’s a computer engineer in San Francisco's financial district – born and raised in Syria and came to the US seven years ago to go to school. El-homsi’s family is still back in Syria.

He says he is frustrated by what he calls the inaction of world powers to help Syrians. He started going to protests and became an online activist, signing petitions and spreading the message of the revolution. Then, he says, he realized that all that wasn't creating change on the ground in Syria. So El-homsi started a project called the Five Percent Movement – an online crowdfunding platform that funds humanitarian projects in the hardest hit areas.

Zaid El-homsi says he made the turn from an activist into a humanitarian because he felt the political work wasn’t gaining anything.

“So my turning into humanitarian work came out of frustration at the US and other western governments and out of disappointment that nothing is going to happen, in my opinion at least in the political arena,” he says.

In response, El-homisi and a group of Syrian-Americans, mostly in the Bay Area, started a movement.

They saw a lot of people lacking basic needs in Syria, a lot of people and activists working on the ground on development projects, and many people wanting to help but unable to get to those activists.

“What we do is we contact, we get in touch with people on the ground inside of Syria working on projects, and we post their project on the Five Percent Movement website and we allow anyone who wants to help the Syrian cause to donate their time or money to get this project, to help with these projects.”

Click the audio player above to listen to the complete interview.

For more information, here is the link to the Five Percent Movement.


Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.