Local Syrian restaurant owner raises money for homeland

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – As the rescue and recovery efforts continue in Turkey, and Syria, local families with ties to both countries are compelled to help survivors of the quake. News10NBC finds out what one Syrian restaurant owner is doing to raise money to send back to his homeland.

Right now survivors of this quake pretty much have nothing. Fundraising efforts can help buy medicine, clothes, and much needed food immediately.

“My family is safe. I have some friends who are missing,” said Khaled Al Kaissi.

He is thousands of miles away from his earthquake damaged homeland of Syria. He owns Master Falafel restaurant on Monroe Avenue in Rochester, and he’s keeping up with all the news coming from the quake zone as best he can.

“I was talking to my best friend yesterday who’s crying on the phone, his kids are missing. It’s just hard to explain,” said Al Kaissi.

He grew up in Homs, Syria and moved to Rochester in 2016 for a chance at a better life. Al Kaissi says he feels quite helpless right now, and wishes he could be part of the search and rescue efforts in Syria.

“It’s so hard because we can’t do nothing. We’re very far away. We can’t do anything special for them,” said Al Kaissi.

He decided the best way to help out is to take up a collection at his restaurant over the next week.

“All the profits we’re making at Master Falafel is gonna go to Syria. We’re sending all the money back there,” said Al Kaissi. He continued, “It’s very important to stand with my people, with my family, my friends. Again, I just can’t do nothing besides, I could just do some donations from my own money, and just send it there,” said Al Kaissi.

He says Syria just can’t take anymore hardships after a 12 year war, and the threat of more earthquakes.

“It’s too hard to handle all this. War, bombs, shooting, killing, blood all over the place, plus all this happening now. It’s just so sad,” said Al Kaissi.

You can donate at his restaurant, Master Falalfel at 519 Monroe Ave. You can also donate through a GoFundMe here organized by the Turkish Society of Rochester or on the society’s Facebook page. Donations are also being accepted at the County Office Building, at all DMV locations throughout the county.

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