As it has with so many other victims of this crisis, the Syrian war turned businessman, Shadi Martini, into a refugee, an activist, and an advocate for greater cooperation across faith and cultural lines.
Now, as the Executive Director of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA), the nation’s leading interfaith response to the Syrian crisis, Mr. Martini will implement his broader vision to expand the organization’s humanitarian aid program, and bring critical awareness of the crisis to the forefront of public consciousness, to encourage activism needed to change the current U.S. immigration policy.
In his former role as Director of Humanitarian Relief and Regional Relations, Mr. Martini traveled throughout the U.S. and the Middle East, forging partnerships with like-minded humanitarians on the ground who were willing to help by donating or delivering life-saving aid. From his vantage point, Mr. Martini is able to provide briefings based on first-hand knowledge of the crisis to government officials, civil society leaders, the media, and various secular and faith-based organizations. The partnerships he has facilitated between organizations focused on addressing similar issues, and the people-to-people engagement he has fostered, are helping to plant the seeds for future stability in the region
In March 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on those providing aid to anyone suspected of being in the opposition, Martini, then the General Manager of a hospital in Aleppo, and his comrades worked covertly to provide aid to wounded and ill civilians. This secret network was discovered in mid-2012, forcing him to flee his country.
Immediately, Martini began organizing assistance programs for Syrian refugees and Internally displaced Syrians. Martini founded Refugee Support Group; a humanitarian aid organization based in Bulgaria. He was elected by Bulgarian NGOs to serve on the Bulgarian crisis commission to help overcome the obstacles to aiding and integrating refugees.His work attracted partnerships with numerous faith-based organizations in the U.S. and abroad, which led to his involvement with the Multifaith Alliance.
In his new role, Mr. Martini expects to strengthen and expand existing efforts in the U.S. and abroad to effect large scale policy and cultural changes,and secure lasting solutions to the Syrian refugee crisis.