The idea for Dreaming of Syria came to life when Tamer Alalloush (Hama, Syria) and Iris Loos (Utrecht, Netherlands) started working together in 2015. In a range of events and projects they worked together as a team and found that their minds where not so far apart and when sharing knowledge, cultural habits and understanding, they could make things happen. The aim of Dreaming of Syria was initiatially to show people in Utrecht, or Netherlands, that the refugees who are new to this country are indeed bringing a lot of talent, knowledge and perhaps even inspiration for new ideas. The first big event they realised together was a festival called Dreaming of Syria. After a succesful event, the foundation was brought to life. By now, Dreaming of Syria is planning many events in the upcoming future like workshops and Dabke Nights. Dreaming of Syria is currently working on bringing Arabic/Syrian culture to the cultural city of Utrecht and beyond. Working with an inter-cultural team of both Dutch and Syrian people, we hope to inspire other to connect, explore and enjoy the diversity of our city.
Tamer Alalloush, who was a international law student in Damascus, came to the Netherlands in September 2015. He was leaving his life, study, wife and two daughters behind, because he had no other choice than to search for a better future. The trip was too dangerous to take his family along to he had to go alone. After traveling all trough Holland, he finally ended up in Utrecht again, where he helped other newcomers find their way around the city and helping them to intergate also. Currently, he lives in Utrecht with his family and is an active networker for the community New Neighbours (that he co-founded also) and he works as a programme coordinator at KRO-NCRV (Dutch television). He helped to produce a special edition of De Reunie that was on show last year, telling stories of 'refugees' that came to Utrecht in 2015.
Iris Loos is a cultural entrepeneur and communication & PR professional. She works as a communications manager for the NDSM wharf in Amsterdam and has been living in the city of Utrecht for several years. She started volunteering when she heard about 500 people where staying at the Jaarbeurs at the end of 2015 and the former Ulu Mosque was collecting clothes for them. Since then, she has been active in Welkom in Utrecht and many individual projects, to help refugees get around in the city. In January 2016, she founded the community New Neighbours with Tamer, which is now an active self-activating network of locals and newcomers in the city with over 2300 members.
The board of the foundation currently consists of 3 members: Rienk Wielenga, Daan Westerink and André de Jongh.