Peter Kassig's aid work in Syria, in his own words

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Sunday 16 November 2014 12:30
Peter Kassig delivering aid in Bekaa Valley, in Lebanon; May, 2013

Peter Kassig, later known as Abdul-Rahman Kassig, an American aid worker, has reportedly become the latest innocent victim to be murdered by Isis.

After serving in the US army in Iraq, Kassig returned to the Middle East in 2012 to set up his own charity supplying aid to refugees fleeing from Syria's devastating civil war.

Here's how he viewed his work, in his own words:

It's about showing people that we care, that someone is looking out for those who might be overlooked or who have slipped through the cracks in the system for whatever reason.

We each get one life and that’s it. We get one shot at this, and we don’t get any do-overs, and, for me, it was time to put up or shut up. The way I saw it, I didn’t have a choice. This is what I was put here to do.

Kassig set up Special Emergency Response and Assistance (SERA) after volunteering at a refugee camp and hospital in Lebanon.

You have to let it shape you. Like a rock with water flowing over it, it will form you into what it wants you to be. The situation determined for us what our role would be in assisting.

I saw another side of what was going on, and it wasn’t just seeing it one time, it was living with it and working with it and getting to know the people...

When I’m in that hospital, you are sitting there with people, and you can’t communicate with more than 12 words to each other, but yet we’re living together, eating together, sleeping together, working together.

SERA delivered vital supplies such as blankets, stoves, and fuel to refugees from Syria.

I did not meet a single man woman or child who could not muster a smile and a message of strength and hope that was nothing short of earth-shatteringly humbling.

The way I saw it, I didn't have a choice. This is what I was put here to do. I guess I am just a hopeless romantic, and I am an idealist, and I believe in hopeless causes.

If I can look back on all of this and say that our organisation is able to truly help people, that I was able to share a little bit of hope and that I never stopped learning then I will know this all stood for something.

  • In an interview with Time in 2013

More: This is who Peter Kassig was and how he should be remembered