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Student Inspired by Family Ties Creates Syria Safe Zone

The political becomes personal for one student, and a medical clinic for Syrian civilians is born.
The political becomes personal for one student, and a medical clinic for Syrian civilians is born.

Syrian civilians live in constant fear, as a brutal civil war rages around them. Too much has been lost to five years of missiles, barrel bombs and heavy artillery. The healthcare system, the one institution that should be exempt from attack, has become a political pawn. The result—in just five years, Syrian life expectancy has dropped by two decades.

Mohammed Willis ’18 wasn’t thinking about the Syrian healthcare system last summer when he met his father, an internally displaced Syrian refugee, for the first time.

Until then, Willis, who was born and raised in the United States, had spoken to his father monthly on the phone. When he found out his father had remarried and had five children, Willis began sending money to help pay for his half-sister’s education.

An economics major with an aptitude for languages (Willis will study Russian in Georgia this summer and previously studied Arabic in Jordan on a U.S. State Department critical language scholarship), his curiosity about his Syrian family grew, until he finally arranged to meet them.

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