Tright here isn’t any skilled wrestler as genre-bustingly progressive as Rami Sebe, in any other case recognized by his ring identify, Sami Zayn. Sami Zayn is a WWE Celebrity, and Quebec-born of Syrian immigrants. As an alternative of popping out in stereotypical Center Jap garb with a purpose to provoke boos from the group, he skanks to the ring, an homage to his love of ska music. He additionally embraces his Syrian heritage. Final 12 months, Zayn raised greater than $100,000 to assist cellular clinics in his war-torn nation. At the moment, Zayn is concerned in a marketing campaign to boost $50,000 extra for a program known as Sami for Syria, to profit SAMS, the Syrian American Medical Society. Right here we communicate to him about his objectives for this marketing campaign and why he turned concerned.
Dave Zirin: Are you able to speak about this new fundraising marketing campaign, Sami for Syria?
Sami Zayn: July 12 marked a 12 months since we launched the final fundraiser and that was mainly to boost funds to launch a cellular clinic in Syria, working on the bottom to assist individuals who had been in actually rural areas or had been displaced that had no entry to well being care. To mainly fund these cellular clinics, which might ship medical providers and drugs and delivering it on to them, to individuals who in any other case couldn’t entry well being care.
That ran for a 12 months, and I imagine it’s truly nonetheless in operation and we raised round $105,000 and had been in a position to present eight,000 medical providers, which is superb. I’m very happy with that and I’m very blissful in regards to the generosity of all of the donors that made it doable.
However now we discover ourselves in a little bit of a brand new state of affairs, because of the escalation in violence in Daraa, which is definitely the place our cellular clinic was working to start with. It’s led to someplace within the neighborhood of 350,000 individuals who needed to flee their houses. And plenty of them fled in direction of borders of Jordan and in direction of the Golan Heights.
However these borders at the moment are closed to them, in order that they couldn’t even flee the nation as refugees, in order that they had been mainly, actually stranded within the desert with no safety, in plenty of circumstances not even a tent, nothing. Simply them within the components and the desert. Which is simply loopy. I can’t even fathom that, as a result of I dwell in Florida and if I’m outdoors of AC for 15 minutes, I begin getting irritable, in order that form of places it in perspective.
So this newest marketing campaign is named Sami Relief and it simply launched, at present, nearly on the one-year anniversary of the launch of the earlier cellular clinic marketing campaign. I’s mainly to handle this current humanitarian disaster, this current state of affairs, as a result of I do know plenty of instances folks can get worn out by the information. The battle in Syria has been occurring for round eight years now, and so I perceive how folks get worn out. You activate the information and day-after-day one thing new, not simply in Syria, however even right here within the states, so it’s very straightforward to get worn out, and I perceive that. This explicit fundraiser that we simply launched at present is in response to one thing that’s occurring proper now, in actual time. The state of affairs may be very sophisticated as regards to politics, however that’s stuff that I don’t wish to contact, actually. That’s not my focus. The entire focus here’s a nonpolitical, nonreligious, you recognize, fund that may mainly assist displaced civilians.
D.Z.: A 12 months in the past, it was very direct. You raised cash for these cellular clinics. The place do you see this cash going?
S.Z.: So this time round, that’s nonetheless the precedence. It’s cellular clinics, however the want for greater than only one. I’ve partnered with SAMS, the Syrian American Medical Society, and so they’re those doing all of the legwork right here, and so they’ve deployed a number of cellular clinics as a result of there’s a necessity for them. Cell clinics are a really cost-effective and sustainable means and a protected technique to ship major medical care, on to the folks in want as a result of sadly, well being amenities have turn out to be targets on this battle, which is, I assume appalling to say the least, but it surely truly makes getting well being care harmful.
This time round, it additionally supplies humanitarian help, which suggests getting these folks meals to eat and clear water and child system and there’s truly, they’re engaged on getting 30,000 meals delivered to those folks. I’ve gotten some photos of it. It’s already up and operating, it’s already on the bottom. We’re simply attempting to fund it to the very best of our talents.
D.Z.: What frustrates you probably the most, so far as what folks take into consideration what’s occurring in Syria and the truth?
S.Z.: It’s arduous to say… it’s arduous to get pissed off. You’ll be able to’t actually get mad at folks for not realizing. Persons are coping with their very own lives, and I get that. As I stated, it’s very straightforward to get worn out by information and issues that concern you in your personal life, in your personal neighborhood, in your personal group, or your personal nation. I completely perceive that.
I get ignorance. What actually hurts me, on a private degree, hurts my soul nearly, is the callousness and the indifference to human struggling or, you recognize, it’s form of this mentality of “not our downside,” or “I don’t care, it’s not occurring to me.” That’s a bummer for me, personally.That extends nicely past Syria. That mentality simply… I don’t suppose it actually serves to make the world a greater place, while you’re solely involved about your self.
D.Z.: What would you say to, not simply the US, however each nation that has successfully minimize off Syrian refugees from coming into?
S.Z.: I don’t know as a result of, once more, I don’t wish to essentially delve into the political features of this. The one motive I say that’s as a result of one thing I’ve discovered, given the political local weather of the final, let’s say two years particularly, you don’t get a lot out of claiming, “Properly, that is your fault,” or, “That is what’s incorrect.”
I used to be doing that. I’ve an issue with plenty of issues, however the entire thing about launching this fundraising marketing campaign was, “What are you truly doing to make the state of affairs higher?”
Sami Zayn may do that interview and vocalize his displeasure with the United Nations or with the US or with no matter nation, however what does that in the end do on the finish of the day? Not a lot. I believe it’s far more practical to really roll up your sleeves and do one thing that’s inside your energy. As a result of if I used to be sitting in on these United Nations conferences, that’s a distinct story. Then it’s one thing that perhaps is inside my energy to voice my opinion. However proper now, launching this fundraiser and lending my identify or my platform to this trigger is much more practical and can truly serve to do much more for the folks which might be truly struggling, you recognize what I imply?
D.Z.: Is there something that you simply wish to say to your followers, particularly about this trigger and about why they need to assist Sami for Syria?
S.Z.: I do know it appears utterly unfathomable and plenty of it’s unfathomable to me, it truly is, as a result of I dwell a really comfortable life, I actually do. I’m very privileged, I’ve every part I would like and extra. It’s very arduous for me to place myself within the sneakers of those folks which might be going via simply unimaginable horrors. You’ll be able to say these phrases out loud: “Oh, so and so, this variety of civilians have been killed. This variety of civilians have been displaced.” And whereas that’s terrible, you may’t actually fathom the horror of what these phrases imply. So it’s very arduous for me to only say, “Hey, that is the struggling that’s occurring,” as a result of in the end it’s very arduous for folks to actually empathize or to actually put themselves in these sneakers. I simply suppose as our capability as human beings, we’re restricted to actually perceive that struggling, until we’ve skilled it ourselves. I assume my message would actually simply be, in the event you’re grateful that this isn’t occurring to you and also you’re ready to assist… nicely, now there’s this fund that may be a direct line the place your cash, your donation, nevertheless huge, nevertheless small, is a direct means to assist people who find themselves in a very unhealthy state of affairs that I might think about you by no means wish to end up in.
So, to me, it’s so simple as that. For those who suppose this can be a horrible state of affairs, which I believe nearly, universally, everybody can agree that that is terrible that civilians of Syria should take care of this, and in the event you ask, I’m certain 9 out of 10 folks, if requested, “Hey, don’t you want you can assist?” I’m certain folks would say, “Sure!”
It is a direct means so that you can assist that’s been arrange for you. Not solely by me and this fundraising marketing campaign, however by SAMS who’s doing all of the legwork and grunt work, of truly making these items occur. We’ve arrange an easy and really direct means for anyone to assist. I do know it doesn’t appear to be a lot, however even $10, $20, no matter sum of money, that may very well be the distinction between paying for anyone’s diabetes remedy or not. So in the end, it’s primarily based on, if I may unfold the message of empathy and understanding and doing good for others, I imply that’s in the end the message behind it.
The extra sensible message is $20 can actually assist save anyone’s life. I actually want I may get everyone to chip in a little bit bit, however in the end, folks will do what they do and I used to be astounded by the generosity of individuals, final time round, over the course of the final 12 months, so I actually hope that we will increase some funds this time round. Once more, it’s an pressing state of affairs. It’s occurring in actual time and so I actually hope we will do our half to assist.
D.Z.: Final query. Going again a 12 months, what was the spark of inspiration that made you are feeling that you simply needed to do one thing?
S.Z.: I believe it was simply the purpose in my life that I reached the place I spotted, I needed to look myself within the mirror and take some accountability. I nearly really feel like I used to be extra part of an issue than an answer. It’s type of this perpetual factor that retains spinning, of individuals on one aspect of the fence versus folks on the opposite aspect of the fence, and there’s this backwards and forwards, dialogue and simply nothing will get completed. All people’s yelling and no person’s truly doing something.
And I felt like I had all these opinions and I had all these good intentions, however then I actually needed to look myself within the mirror and say, “You discuss a giant recreation, however what are you truly doing?”
I simply form of felt like a hypocrite and I spotted I do have the means to assist due to this platform that I’ve been afforded by being WWE Celebrity or being on TV each Monday evening. I spotted I had a place to really facilitate some change and I wasn’t actually, whereas my intentions had been good, I wasn’t actually doing something.
I needed to look myself within the mirror and confront my very own hypocrisy and face that head-on, and that was actually what sparked it. The intention to assist folks or the assumption that the Syrian folks struggling is terrible and that I want I may alleviate it, that’s been there for years. However then I believe I simply got here to a degree in my life the place I spotted, I’m not likely doing something about it and it’s time to place up or shut up. That’s what actually did it.