MEET ILIAS + VOULA
founders of Humanitarian Initiative Bridges
I was born in a small village in Syria, near the borders with Iraq. I am the youngest child of six.
During the summers of my schooling years, my father trained me to work from a young age. At the age of fifteen and during one of these working days, I realized what it means to be persecuted. As I stood around a fire with my coworkers, one of my peers threw a nearby tank of petrol on me and I caught on fire.
After twenty days of hospitalization, I was transferred at home unable to move as my skin was burnt. A couple of weeks later, I had lost my vision due to the lack of blood. They kept bringing "plasma" from France, but I was blind for three months and on bedrest for six. Despite this situation costing 3 years of my life, I praise the Lord that the only scarves reminding me of this event are on my legs.
By a miracle, I regained my life back and was trained as electrician while establishing my own music band. After years passed and my parents died, I decided to leave Syria and immigrate to Europe. But, the day before I left, I had decided to take revenge on my attacker. When I went to his house, pretending to be his friend, his sister informed me that he was imprisoned the week before for killing a girl in a car accident. I believe that God spared my life once more.
So, I arrived in Greece in 1989, believing that I would never go back to Syria. I wanted to have nothing with my country and my nation as I was terribly traumatized. A few years later, I met Voula and after we were married we visited my country many times.
The beginning of the war in Syria in 2011 brought a big change to my heart and mind. In 2013, I made the decision to give up my job and be dedicated to helping the men, women, and children fleeing my home country. These persons were landing in Europe hopeless, distressed, depressed, and victimized. I felt the call to offer them hope, guidance, re-orientation, genuine and practical love, strength, and inspiration to start from the beginning.
Voula Champeridou - Antouan
Voula Antouan was born and raised in Chalkida, Greece.
Voula Champeridou - Antouan was born and raised in Chalkida, Greece. She studied social work in Athens and counseling at the Global University of USA. After graduating, she worked for the Global University teaching Human Relationships while, at the same time, interpreting and translating the university's study material. For years she was practicing private counseling and teaching in seminars on various subjects concerning Human Relationships, Marital Issues, Domestic Violence, and Pre-Marital Counseling. She has also written, published, and edited articles for numerous magazines.
Having experience in voluntary and social work, she and her husband envisioned, dreamed, and established Humanitarian Initiative Bridges. With great passion they dream to contribute to the restoration and transformation of the lives of precious and beloved victims of war and persecution who end up in Europe as refugees. Her mottos are "Find the Truth and It Will Set You Free" and "Think Big.”