A university graduate helped refugees in war-torn Syria after originally heading to Turkey for a volunteer project.
Paddy Vipond, 23, from Brighton, recently completed a degree in War, Conflict and Modernity but decided to postpone job hunting to volunteer working with children in Ankara, Turkey.
After telling his Turkish friends of his desire to head across the border to Syria, he was introduced to a man outside a coffee shop who took him to the country.
Mr Vipond said: “His name was Basel and he was heading to Syria the following evening. He had a photography and film project to work on in the Turkmen Mountains, the region north of Latakia.
“He asked if I would like to join him for a few days and I said yes. The villages I went to were 20 or so kilometres from the frontline but they still experienced bombing from Assad’s forces.”
When in Syria, Mr Vipond spent 10 days providing aid to families and their children in remote villages.
He also befriended members of the Free Syrian Army – the rebel forces currently fighting president Bashar al-Assad and his government.
He continued: “There were three or more makeshift camps housing as many as 250 people, with eight to ten people to a tent.”
Mr Vipond bought and donated milk powder for babies and children, cooking oil and weather-proof jackets.
He added: “It was a really moving and humbling experience and it kind of put things in perspective for me. We’re really lucky and privileged to be able to live the lives we lead.”
Another recent visitor to Syria was Cat Carter from Brighton who interviewed children and families whose lives had been torn apart by the conflict.
The Save the Children worker said: “I met children with bullet wounds and torture marks – the youngest of was nine years old.
“What people don’t realise is that these kids are just the same as those in Brighton with the same hopes and dreams. But these have been thrown into a war they simply don’t understand.”
To make a donation to Mr Vipond’s aid fund or to read his in-depth blog, visit Dowhatyoucan.co.uk.
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