Yassin’s Falafel House owner raises over $188K, travels to Syria to help earthquake victims

A Syrian refugee-turned-restaurant owner in Tennessee raised over $188,000 — and counting — in donations to help with earthquake rescue and relief efforts in Turkey and Syria.

After hearing about the devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake that rocked northwestern Syria and southeastern Turkey, killing tens of thousands of people, Yassin Terou sprang into action to help on the ground. 

The owner of Yassin’s Falafel House in Knoxville, which won the Reader’s Digest Nicest Place in America accolade in 2018, traveled from the U.S. to Turkey on a mission to help provide food relief, medical care, fuel and shelter to those in desperate need.

Before he left the U.S. to help, Terou told Good Morning America that his motivation was helping people who have been impacted “to keep building bridges of love between different communities.”

Most of Terou’s family is still in Syria, and one of his brothers is in Gaziantep, Turkey; he is currently displaced as a result of the massive earthquake.

Ahead of his flight last week, Terou told GMA that Noor Ibrahim, a nurse from Knoxville who owns a medical training EMT company, had also joined him to volunteer on the ground in Istanbul and south Turkey once they have more information and supplies.

Upon starting his campaign for donations, Terou raised $60,000 in just 48 hours. “Our community has never disappointed me when we ask for help — but this fast response is showing the world who we are as an American people,” Terou said.