An update from Edward Norton
January 07, 2017
BENEFITING: the Scientist
I saw this story on one of my favorite sites, Humans of New York, and it moved me to tears. This man has suffered profound loss that would crush the spirit of many people and yet he still passionately wants a chance to contribute positively to the world. If we don’t welcome people like this into our communities and empower his dream of making an impact with his life, then we’re not the country we tell ourselves we are. Let’s reject the 'anti-human’ voices that tell us to fear refugees and show this man and his family what Americans are really made of. Let’s show that a country built by the energy and dreams of immigrants still believes in brave people who come here with hope for better life.
Everything we raise here will go to help this family so that the father can get the medical treatment he needs to live and pursue his work, and his family can build a new stable life after their tragedy, and…as the Scientist beautifully expresses…to support his dream of contributing to the world.
Thanks to Humans of New York for sharing these stories. Thanks to the team at CrowdRise for putting this together and figuring out how to get even the credit card transaction fees covered so we can get the maximum to the family.
Thanks to everyone who rallies together to create the power of the crowd. If enough of us kick in the price of two frappucinos, we can probably transform the experience of this family and show them that life can deliver healing and kindness, not just heartbreak.
Thanks to Benevolent, all donations are tax-deductible. We will work with Benevolent to use all donated funds to help this family and will seek to use any excess or unused funds to help the other 11 profiled in the HONY ‘Syrian American’ series.
“My parents were supportive of my education, but they didn’t direct me. My father was a farmer and my mother was a housewife. They did not know much about science. But I was determined to become a scientist through my own personal will. I graduated high school with the third highest scores in all of Syria. I worked construction in the evenings to pay for my school. Even as a teenager, I was being given construction sites to manage. I graduated from university at the top of my class. I was given a scholarship to pursue my PhD. I suffered for my dream. I gave everything. If I had 100 liras, I would spend it on a book. My ultimate goal was to become a great scientist and make a lasting contribution to humanity.”
“Our marriage wasn’t arranged. We married out of love. We met when we were students at university. She was studying law. We built a family together. We were a very modern family. We had good days and bad days and rich days and poor days but we were always together. We ate every meal together and educated our children well. My daughter was studying to be a doctor. My son was the smartest in his school. We were well known in the community. Nobody had a problem with us. We had no affiliation with any party or regime. Everyone loved us, honestly.”
“I built this compound for my family. I saved the money for it, I designed it myself, and I oversaw the construction. The first missile tore through the yellow house and exploded inside the pink house. It was a government anti-personnel missile. They are not supposed to be used in residential areas. Inside were 116 small bombs, and each bomb was filled with needles and shrapnel. The pink house belonged to my brother and his entire family was torn to pieces. The second missile landed in the green house but did not explode. That was my house. If the missile had exploded, I wouldn’t have any children left. But it only destroyed the top floor where my wife and daughter were. Sixteen people died in the attack. Seven were from my family."
“I was overseeing a project outside the city when the missile hit my house. Nobody was around to help, so my son had to carry the pieces of his mother and sister out of the house. He was fourteen at the time. He was so smart. He was the top of his class. He’s not the same. Right after it happened, he’d write ‘mom’ in his notebook over and over. He’d cry all night long. Two years have passed but he’s still suffering very much. It’s very hard for him to focus. He gets tired very easily. My daughter was in the house too. She still has shrapnel in her neck. We survived but we’re dead psychologically. Everything ended for us that day. That was our destiny. That was our share in life.”
“Everything that wasn’t destroyed in our house was stolen over the next two days. We left with nothing. I can’t even pay the rent of this apartment. I’ve been in Turkey for two years now. I’m dead here. I have no life, no respect, and my children aren’t going to school. I have a PhD but I’m not allowed to work without a residence permit. There is a university here that is teaching with a book I wrote, but still won’t give me a job. In order to survive, I’m forced to create designs and give them away to Turkish citizens, who take all the credit and pay me barely enough money to cover the costs of my materials. This year I created blueprints for a giant construction project of 270 big houses. I was paid maybe one percent of what a Turkish citizen would have earned. There is no respect for my work here. Only money is respected.”
“I had no problems before the bombing. I think the cancer came from my sadness and my stress. It’s in my stomach. It’s getting more and more painful. The only reason I can speak to you right now is because I’ve taken a painkiller. I can barely eat. I’m bleeding internally. I’ve gone to five hospitals here. They tell me there’s nothing they can do, especially because I have no insurance and no benefits. My friend in America tells me that it’s an easy surgery, but I’m fighting against time. It’s spreading, and I think that soon it will move beyond my stomach. And then there’s nothing I can do.”
“I still think I have a chance to make a difference in the world. I have several inventions that I’m hoping to patent once I get to America. One of my inventions is being used right now on the Istanbul metro to generate electricity from the movement of the train. I have sketches for a plane that can fly for 48 hours without fuel. I’ve been thinking about a device that can predict earthquakes weeks before they happen. I just want a place to do my research. I learned today that I’m going to Troy, Michigan. I know nothing about it. I just hope that it’s safe and that it’s a place where they respect science. I just want to get back to work. I want to be a person again. I don’t want the world to think I’m over. I’m still here.”