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Chinese expat in Turkey sup ports Syrian refugees

Reporter: Natalie Carney 丨 CCTV.com

12-24-2016 12:47 BJT

It’s the end of the year and many see it as a time for giving. But Wu Zhen, a Chinese expat living in the Turkish capital Ankara, has been giving all year long. Wu collects donations from friends all around the world to help needy and desperate Syrian refugees.

42 year old Wu Zhen came to Turkey two years ago to be a tour guide and study the language. He soon found himself doing much more.

Every month, Wu and his roommate Jihad from Palestine, visit Syrian refugees in a run down neighbourhood on the outskirts of Ankara. 

“I wanted to some good ting to celebrate Spring Festival. So I talk to my neighbour. Where is some Syrian families? They told me here. So I come here. Many poor people live here. So from Spring Festival to now, every month I help some Syrian families,” said Wu Zhen, Chinese good samaritan.

We arrived at the home of Mahmoud and Fatma Idlib Province.

50-year-old Mahmoud suffers from debilitating Parkinson’s disease causing his muscles to constantly clench up.

He is overwhelmed to see us all.

The couple lives in this one room with few comforts. Wu gives them 100 TL, about 29 USD, half of what they need for their monthly rent.

Wu receives the money from friends in China and those he’s made in Turkey. He is very careful to keep track of every lira, writing it all down on an Excel spread sheet. How much comes in is how much goes out.

"All my friends here give me money. Tim – Money, Wu – Money," Wu said.

Fatma signs in a little black book, a receipt of sorts to add to Wu’s accounting. He then takes a picture and shares it online with his growing pool of generous donators.

With no family, few friends, growing health concerns and completely dependent on the good will of others – life in Turkey has not been easy for Mahmoud and Fatma, yet returning to Syria – even after the war ends, is simply not possible anymore.

“What would we go back and do? We have nobody and no house! Where would we live? We thank Wu very much and ask god to love him. Every month he comes and gives us 100 lira,” Fatma said.

Back in the car I ask Wu how he does it emotionally. It’s not easy to see people suffering.

“These people are living a rough life. They don't have their own language and they are living in a new country instead of their traditional cultural area. Although they seem to be optimistic toward their current life, they have unspeakable pain in their hearts, especially these refugees in warfare states. So from my perspective, even a little bit from us may help bring them hope and confidence toward life,” Wu said.

The next house was home to a family of six from Aleppo. The father is disabled so cannot work. But his wife has just found a job cooking Syrian food, yet it’s hardly enough to support everyone. 

Again WU asks them to sign his little black book and takes a picture. The kids also get a special treat.

What makes this moment all that more special, Wu here from China, this lovely family from Syria and here we sit on the outskirts of the Turkish capitol is that Wu never knew these people before he began helping them. But he says that’s not what matters. As long as you are human you can care and help another human being. Isn’t that true.

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