After a 20 month journey for peace, which took me from Portugal to Egypt, I am now back in Europe, near Milan. Everything I own is in my backpack, I have no address, and I've got about 100 euros in my pocket.
It's obviously a perfect opportunity to plan my next journey.
Over the next six weeks I hope to find work, any work, to earn enough to buy a second-hand touring bicycle and to get by while cycling from somewhere in Western Europe to Syria.
When I was in Antakya, Turkey, I met several humanitarian workers who were either involved in helping Syrian refugees in Turkey, or who routinely went "inside", that is, into Syria to distribute goods and medical aid. I was impressed by their efforts, and while only there for a short time, a friend and I wanted to help out in any way we could. We were unable to link with an NGO to do temporary volunteer work, so we decided to buy a few educational toys and deliver them to refugee children ourselves. We traveled by bus to the border town of Reyhanli twice, and by the second time we were there we had managed to fulfill our little mission. A week later though, as I caught a ship towards Egypt, I knew I would be back at some point to try to do more.
While in Cairo I heard the news that Reyhanli had been bombed, the deadliest act of terrorism ever in Turkey. The Turkish car bombers were suspected to be agents of Assad's regime. As a result of the bombings, there was violence between Reyhanli's Turkish citizens and Syrian refugees, each blaming the other for what had happened. But all I could think about was the family whose children we had given the toys to.
Now several Western nations are seriously considering backing the rebels with weapons, though the rebels have committed their share of atrocities, and are largely fundamentalist.
I don't like the idea of working to pay taxes that will put more weapons into Syria; I would much rather work to help the victims of the war there.
Cycling to raise funds for a reputable humanitarian organization involved in Syria and at its borders seems like a good way to do this. The organization I have chosen is International Rescue Committee, www.rescue.org which is rated with four stars by Charity Navigator www.charitynavigator.org.
I plan to start sometime in August, and to arrive at the Syrian border six to eight weeks later. I am hoping to raise $5000 for the IRC, specifically for their work with victims of the war in Syria.
I've got a lot of work to do before I can start cycling, but don't let that stop you; feel free to donate now!
You can donate through 'First Giving' below, or by going to http://diy.rescue.org/cycling-to-syria