INTRO: I left Iraq in 2011 and came to Turkey with my family as refugees. Those years were the most difficult in my life. The most difficult thing was that I had to wait for years for my resttlement process, I was not allowed to work, I had no purpose. A few years later, I started volunteering and working with different organizations to serve other refugees. I soon realized that was my purpose and what gives me meaning. I worked in different roles, as a caseworker, community liaison and an outreach coordinator. In 2017, I started to manage a shelter for LGBTQ refugees in Istanbul. Since 2019, I founded two humanitarian projects: the Aman Project, where we focus on LGBTQ refugee rights in Turkey and the MENA region and United Hands for Refugees, which is a COVID- relief initiative to help support vulnerable refugees with food and hygiene packs.
you IN 5 WORDS: Survivor, Dreamer, Changemaker, Activist, World Citizen
CULTURAL IDENTITY: I am half Iraqi, half Palestinian/Jordanian and identify as a Secular Arab. I speak Arabic and Turkish.
geography: I was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq. I lived there until I was 19, then we fled to Turkey. I lived in Eskişehir for 4 years and and since 2015, have been living in Istanbul.
WHAT ARE YOUR PASSIONS? LGBTQ rights, refugees, cross-cultural dialogue, bringing change, politics, travel, American hip-hop
WHY WORK ON THE DE-OTHERIZE PROJECT?
Part of my activism work is to speak to journalists and podcasts to raise awareness. I am also a filmmaker currently working on a documentary project on LGBTQ refugees in Arabic; I think this project is an opportunity to merge all of my efforts and better serve my community, the refugee community, by raising awareness and addressing the many problems we have in the world when it comes to pre-judgements, xenophobia and to promote understanding and acceptance towards the “other”
"My name is Yazan, I'm 24 years old, Syrian, from Latakia. I graduated from high school in 2011, the year the war began in Syria, with a diploma in the scientific branch.
I grew up in Latakia's poor streets with my family. I have one brother and two sisters.