Who we are
LPI Corp is a non-profit organization dedicated to directing funds from private donors and corporate sponsors to coordinate efforts in providing immediate aid and creating long-term solutions to vulnerable Syrian refugees. Our team consists of people who are passionate about being a part of the solution to this humanitarian crisis.
Founder, Elias Matar
I had been following the Syrian refugee crisis since March 2011. At first, I was observing the situation from afar. Then I started running and posting my miles on social media to bring attention to the plight of the refugees. But I felt a strong calling to do more. In August of 2015, I decided to a book plane ticket without a clear idea of what I would be doing. And so my journey began.
On my first night in Sid, Serbia, more than 2,000 refugees walked through a cornfield where I, along with a group of other volunteers, had set up a station offering food and water.
I spent the next thirteen days traveling between Greece and Germany. I did what I could to help the refugees along the way. I listened to their stories, cried with them, gave them whatever information I had about border openings, bus and train routes and where to avoid minefields.
When the refugees discovered that I spoke Arabic with a Syrian accent they felt a connection to me and shared the stories of their journeys, the loss of loved ones, and their hope against all odds for a better future. It was here that I learned of refugees crossing the Aegean Sea along with the horrific stories that accompanied them. I knew that I needed to meet this beast of a sea in order to complete my journey. So in December 2015, I boarded a plane and headed back, this time to Greece and Turkey.
I spent late December and early January on the island of Chios, Greece, working with international volunteers at the CHIOS EASTERN SHORE RESCUE TEAM. Our mission was to distribute food, water, blankets and relief kits to the refugees as they landed on the island, and to ultimately prepare them for the next leg of their journey.
In June of 2016, I traveled to Lebanon to join Salam LADC. We helped to purchase and distribute food to the refugees in the informal settlements, and worked in conjunctions with UNHCR, Humanwire and Teachers Without Borders to educate children while we were there as well as set up long-term education solutions. We also assisted in covering basic living needs for new arrivals and in paying medical bills for refugees uncovered by UNHCR.
The Bekaa Valley has had a massive impact on me. It’s been very hard to go back to my “normal life” and not think of these children. The world has turned its’ back on these people in their time of need, in what is one of the largest humanitarian catastrophes of our time. Although we were only 24 volunteers, in the end, we delivered more than 17 tons of food. But still, this is only a teardrop in an ocean of need. My experience in the Bekaa Valley, living among the refugees, is the reason I have formed LPI Corp.
Board Director, Bertie Lumsden
Currently in his final year of a MA in International Relations at the University of St. Andrews, Bertie has spent over 18 months working full-time on a variety of volunteer projects across the world. This has taken him from education programs at new grassroots school in India, to post-disaster rebuild in the Philippines and disaster response work following flash-flooding in Kentucky. More recently spending January of 2016 making tea and soup for arriving refugees on the beaches of Lesvos where he met Martin Kvernebekk and was introduced to Salam LADC. Since then Bertie has been involved with extensive fundraising both through personal efforts such as a sponsored solo-cycle from San Francisco and Portland, as well as raising money through University events which has been used to establish the first community center in partnership with Salam LADC last summer, and support the pilot program and early stages of the Manara center.
Volunteer Coordinator, Ethan Bochicchio
When I was in 12th grade, Elias, who was a dad at my school, went to the Balkans to aid refugees and make a documentary about the humanitarian crisis there. When he came back I saw his shattering film and asked how I could help. He said, "What are you doing in two weeks?"
Two weeks later, during winter break, I found myself with Elias on the Greek Island of Chios, where we joined other volunteers aiding refugees not only fleeing Syria, but many other war-torn Middle Eastern and African countries. One night alone we received 37 boats filled with exhausted, freezing, soaking-wet men, women, and children, who had just crossed the Aegean Sea. That night I was handed a baby by a lifeguard who said, "Change her, she's wet." I got nervous thinking I'd have to change my first diaper...until I realized she was wet because she'd fallen into the icy sea.
This trip changed the trajectory of my life. I didn't just see people who needed help, I saw injustice. When I got back, I needed to learn everything that I could about the world. I read articles and blogs, watch videos and documentaries...and devoured books. When I graduated from high school, I went back to Greece, this time for four weeks, working largely with unaccompanied minors. Since then, while I've been in college, I've been back to Greece twice more and the group of volunteers that travel with us has expanded on each trip. In line with LPI's mission, we've focused on the most vulnerable cases, and this August will be spent in Lebanon where we'll be opening up a center for adolescent refugees. I hope to get a footing in Lebanon on this trip and continue supporting refugees in the country in years to come.