Meetup #9: Caravan of Love


We don’t want to get boring and repeat ourselves, but we were once again sold out. This time joined by many new faces, which makes us happy. What also made us happy was the bittersweet story of Happy Caravan founder Alaa. He made everyone present happy with his optimism, his charisma and his big smile.

Alaa’s baggage

But behind the big smile is a past full of sorrow. Alaa manages to make us part of this past in his own, cheerful manner. Only when he leaves the stage and gives the word to Elena Gheorghe (program manager) and Audrey Bingaman (PR manager and director), his words really get through. About living in a war zone, about the horrible journey from Syria through Europe and what he saw, heard and felt in the various refugee camps. A journey that so many of his fellow sufferers still embark on. As Alaa puts it into words: ‘I came to the Netherlands with a backpack full of misery, pain, sadness and stress’.

Help Happy Caravan

Alaa has been a Present Mover for a while (read about it here) and currently he is our ‘man on the ground’. He is ready to personally guide entrepreneurs who want to see what it is like in the Greek refugee camps, and to show them how they can contribute. Happy Caravan, the founding of which was just as much of a ‘bumpy road’ as his flight from Syria, works with a large array of volunteers from all corners of the world, and provides education and a creative space, hoping to offer refugee children a future perspective in their new home countries.

This evening, Happy Caravan called upon the knowledge of the audience to find a way to keep volunteers committed, attract new volunteers and how to ensure a stable income. All present were divided into five teams, and were given time to brainstorm. Within a few minutes there was no sound but that from the kitchen, where Majd was preparing his best Syrian bites for this evening.

Team Brown: off to Greece

After the brainstorm session each team presented its best (and multiple!) ideas in short, one-minute pitches. It was not an easy decision, but in the end team brown under Suzanne’s supervision was chosen as the winner by the team of Happy Caravan. They received the amazing prize: a trip to Happy Caravan in Greece. We would like to share the story of this journey with you.

To be continued!

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