Abeer Masri: Locating Empowerment and Syria on the Map

BY: Ellie Hitt

Enjoy the next feature of our “Phantom Helpers” series: an interview with Abeer Masri, the Legal Consultant for Urban Refuge.

EH: What are the ways in which your connection to Syria has informed your work on this project?

AM: Being a Syrian who was uprooted and started all over in a new place makes me familiar with what the Syrian refugees are facing and going through. When I spoke to the Syrians in Amman via Skype, we understood each other right away. I felt their needs and pain and they told me that they felt that there are no borders or barriers between us. Being a Syrian who lives in Boston made me the bridge between two cultures and my job is to make the Syrian refugees feel safe to use the app and to let them know that they are not alone!

How has it been balancing motherhood, law school, Urban Refuge, and everything else you are involved in?

It is not easy, but the goal we are aiming for is definitely worth it. Being a member of Urban Refuge is a great experience. It allowed me to discover new things about myself and what I am capable of once I put my mind to it. I learned that when you believe in something you will make the time for it. Handling family, studying and work is a very complicated task, but I discovered that once you become a mother your super powers will start to show up soon enough. On the other hand, my family support was a huge deal for me, they believe in what I am doing and always back me up and my little one liked attending Urban Refuge meetings. Finally less sleeping hours…

What motivated you to stay in touch with this project? What has been the best part of being involved with Urban Refuge?

The idea of empowering the refugees by giving them the knowledge is the heart and soul of this project and number one reason why I am part of it. And moreover, Urban Refuge is a great team to work with. They are wonderful amazing, brilliant ladies and anyone would be honored to work with them. 

In your opinion, what is the most pressing problem surrounding aid for Syrian refugees?

Not knowing how to reach out to get the help they need. In a strange country asking even the smallest question become a challenge to the refugees. So, even if the aid is out there, refugees don't have the necessary tools to reach out to get it.

After the rollout of the app, do you foresee any challenges for Urban Refuge? If so, what problems do you think the team will face the app?

I have some concerns about the security and laws in the countries that we are planning to launch the app in. Also, about the way that Syrian refugees would react to the app and their flexibility to use it.

What is your dream or vision for the future of this project?

I have very high hopes for the app! I want it to achieve its goal by serving refugees everywhere. After the Syrian crisis is ended and there are no more Syrian refugees to serve, I want it to become an international tool that serves original citizens in their countries around the globe.  

Thanks once again to Abeer for her support of Urban Refuge. We couldn’t have done it without her!

Urban Refuge