‘Giving something back’: Syrian refugee saves his welfare to feed homeless in Berlin

A homeless man begs for money at Alexanderplatz square in Berlin. © Thomas Peter
Having lost everything in his homeland, one Syrian refugee has not lost his heart and generosity. Now living in Germany, Alex Assali spends a large portion of his welfare payment to serve food to the homeless and repay Germany’s hospitality, despite being jobless himself.

Most Saturdays, Alex brings large pots of food that he cooks, and “sets the table” for the homeless of Berlin. Even though he is unemployed, Alex buys food with the money he receives from the government as a refugee. The payment is only is a little over 350 euros a month, according to media estimates. Almost half of that he saves to feed others.

His motto is “Give something back to German people.”

The country became his home in 2014, after he fled Syria without passport in 2007, and spending years in Libya.

“We want to be a positive part in the German community. Want to be one hand (Syrian and German citizens) to help the others and help each other,” a paper on his table reads. “Our target is to give something back to the people who helped us,” it says.

THATS ALEX! A big shoutout to him this morning, Dieser Mann beeindruckt mich zu tiefst! Seine Geschichte ist nicht...

Posted by Tabea Bü on Saturday, 21 November 2015

His story would have gone untold, had it not been passed around by his friend Tabea Bu, who put in on Facebook. In just three days, her post went viral and caught media attention, garnering hundreds of shares since Sunday.

“I'm so fascinated by this man!” Tabea Bu wrote after joining Alex in the streets of Berlin. “He really has lost everything; he had to leave his family back in Syria because people wanted to kill him.”

Bu told German media that she met Assali at Sharehaus Refugio, an organization that provides assistance to people who have lost their homes or were forced to flee their homes, Stern magazine reported.

“We both never imagined what this little post could do, but we are happy that we did bring a little light into the world!” Tebea wrote in response to the overwhelming support her post about Alex received.