Amer­i­can who gave hope to refugees re­ceives award for ‘hu­man­ity, ac­tive sol­i­dar­ity’

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY IOANNA FOTIADI

“The refugees we’ve housed at our fa­cil­i­ties once again feel hu­man. From the mo­ment they ar­rive, they get their own room with a door and a key.” This is the se­cret to the suc­cess of Elp­ida Home, ac­cord­ing to Amed Khan, the founder of the op­er­a­tion.

“We award you for your phi­lan­thropy and es­pe­cially for the hu­man­ity and ac­tive sol­i­dar­ity you’ve shown,” said the pres­i­dent of Sol­i­dar­ity Now’s board of di­rec­tors, Ste­lios Zavvos, as he pre­sented the 45year-old Amer­i­can with the Civil So­ci­ety Award in Athens on Mon­day.

In early 2016, Khan col­lab­o­rated with Frank Gius­tra of the Rad­cliffe Foun­da­tion on a project to pro­vide refugees with a bet­ter qual­ity of life. They did this by re­con­struct­ing an aban­doned fac­tory out­side Thes­sa­loniki, which was al­ready host­ing refugees, and turn­ing it into a guest­house, giv­ing pri­or­ity to chil­dren and vul­ner­a­ble groups. Ev­ery day, they are re­warded for their ef­forts with smiles. As Khan was get­ting ready to travel to Athens to ac­cept the award, the young guests of Elp­ida Home were putting on swimwear for their first swim­ming lessons. The lessons are part of a pro­gram pro­vided by the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry. At the same time, the moth­ers were at­tend­ing dance, music and yoga classes, pro­vided by NGOs that col­lab­o­rate with Elp­ida Home. “Elp­ida Home gave us hope,” many women are heard say­ing in their mother tongue in a video about the guest­house.

He is plan­ning to work on more such projects. “The hous­ing prob­lem has started to sub­side. Now pri­or­ity must be placed on get­ting th­ese peo­ple to work, since ev­ery­one needs to have a job. I aim to dis­cuss this with in­vest­ment lead­ers in Greece, for them to open up jobs for them,” said Khan, as he lever­ages his ex­per­tise in the business world to ap­proach the re­al­ity of the refugee cri­sis.

Khan was born and raised in the United States to Ira­nian par­ents and is on the ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee for the In­ter­na­tional Cri­sis Group.

While work­ing with Elp­ida Home, which reg­is­tered as an NGO last Oc­to­ber, he has also been get­ting in­volved in an­other project. “In Mo­sul, which is just now be­ing lib­er­ated from ISIS, we’re think­ing of build­ing an ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram aimed at fight­ing Is­lamic State pro­pa­ganda. We’re also tar­get­ing Libya for fu­ture projects,” he ex­plains.

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