Syria’s first astronaut helps support refugees fleeing conflict

World Today

Syria's first astronaut helps support refugees fleeing conflict

The fighting has taken its toll on Syria and its people. Millions have fled to neighboring countries such as Turkey, where some 3.5 million Syrians now live.

CGTN’s Michal Bardavid brings us a unique story of Syria’s former spaceman who became a refugee and is now working hard to support others.

In 1987, Muhammed Faris became the first Syrian to travel to space. He went on a joint mission with Soviet cosmonauts and spent seven days in space. He became a national hero and later served as a military advisory. But when the Syrian conflict began – he disagreed with the governments’ actions and decided to flee the country with his family he came to Turkey.

Muhammed Faris said he learned a lot about humanity through his space experience.

“The best thing from space, you see the earth as one thing, there are no borders, it’s the home of the human, all humans – black white and yellow, all humans are the same.”

In Turkey, Muhammed Faris has found a way to spread his knowledge – he lectures children who attend space programs. He believes that children have the power to change the future.

“I earn nothing financially from the lectures or conferences,” said Faris. “For me the biggest gain is the happiness I see from a child’s face when they are learning.”

Children in the school are fascinated by his story and ask numerous questions about his experience in space.

 The Faris family is also working to support others refugees in Turkey.

Not knowing the Turkish language is one of the main challenges refugees face when trying to integrate into the Turkish society. The Faris family opened a language school in 2014 and has taught over 3,000 students since.

Muhammed’s wife, Hind Faris, is also active in the Syrian community, especially with children.

“We frequently organize entertaining events for orphan children as their psychological states have been negatively affected by war. We organize art and music classes for them.”

The Faris family strives to give hope and set an example for refugees.

“To refugees struggling around the world I say, don’t give up,” said Faris.

Starting a new life as a refugee is a difficult task, but with the support of people like the Faris family who have succeeded to integrate, it certainly becomes easier. 

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