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I am a Syrian Refugee. This Is How Bitcoin Modified My Life

Tey Elrjula is a tech entrepreneur, a refugee and the writer of “The Invisible Son,” now out there for pre-sale. 

Bitcoin is sweet for no matter you want. I’ve used it to order pizza and to construct a satisfying profession, regardless of all kinds of hardships.

I’ve been utilizing bitcoin for years as a result of my household wants it, not as a result of I take pleasure in speculative buying and selling. In 2013 I used to be launched to cryptocurrencies whereas working with software program engineers within the Netherlands. My thought was that if we created cash from code, then cash would grow to be a approach of communication and its value would characterize the neighborhood.

See additionally: The Fact About Bitcoin and Hezbollah in Lebanon

I used to ship cash from the Netherlands to my household in Lebanon twice a month, and the charges had been killing me. Even worse, the lengthy ready traces at cash switch outlets had been torture. There are nonetheless quite a lot of insurmountable restrictions on cash transactions, particularly those who exclude massive populations all over the world. 

For instance, a large section of individuals in Saudi Arabia doesn’t have residence permits and usually are not in a position to switch cash to their households in nations comparable to India or Pakistan. Bitcoin doesn’t have these restrictions or contain exorbitant transactional prices. 

Later in 2013, I began a Fb group on bitcoin. I moderated the web page and had discussions with lots of the 10,000 individuals who got here there, most of whom had been from Egypt. I met quite a lot of attention-grabbing individuals in that group, comparable to Abdullah Almoaiqel. Abdullah is now the co-founder and accomplice of Rain, which is the primary regulated digital forex exchange within the Center East. The corporate relies in Bahrain and operates from Bahrain and Egypt.

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Then, in 2014, every little thing began going flawed. My European residency card expired on the finish of that 12 months and there was a battle happening again house. Folks mentioned Hezbollah, the native militia, was combating to maintain ISIS out of Lebanon. 

Know-how helps us dwell in a world the place we have to belief much less and confirm extra.

Half of Syria was flooding into the Netherlands again then, and smugglers had been energetic on the opposite facet of Europe. I purchased a small guide to show me easy methods to pray in Islam, then began to observe my prayers and hearken to the Koran. I additionally began listening to Sayed Hassan Nasrallah’s speeches, his recitals and calls to battle alongside Hezbollah in Syria. I used to be surrendering to my destiny of being deported to Syria or Lebanon.

Sleepless nights glided by, with the Fb pages repeatedly broadcasting photos of the brutality of battle in Syria. I didn’t need to be a part of this. 

On Sept. 11, 2014 , 500 migrants misplaced their lives within the Mediterranean Sea trying to cross to secure land. It was at that second I noticed how blessed I used to be to be in Europe, and I surrendered to the concept of changing into a refugee. 

The refugee camp the place Tey Elrjula spent his 30th birthday.
Supply: Tey Elrjula

In the meantime, I stored engaged on the Fb web page I ran with a prime Egyptian software program engineer and early adopter of bitcoin. The Egyptian bitcoin customers stored me busy. I chatted with lots of people and answered their questions on the mining course of, price hypothesis, shopping for bitcoin and promoting it. They knew I used to be moderating from Holland, however didn’t know I used to be now partially undocumented. 

I turned 30 within the camp and lied to my dad and mom, telling them I used to be in my good European condominium ready for the immigration authorities to resume my residency. No person knew I used to be dwelling alongside the opposite Arab refugees in a camp besides me.

Refugees should not have IDs, to allow them to’t have bank accounts. They don’t know anybody within the Netherlands, not but a minimum of. Bitcoin grew to become an excellent larger a part of my skilled work. The fixed publicity to crypto landed me translation jobs for reporters who had been overlaying bitcoin tales. 

On sunny days, I earned a number of hundred euros as an escrow agent connecting patrons and sellers of bitcoin. In July 2015, I earned a technical experience certificates from the College of Nicosia and registered on the bitcoin blockchain. Lastly, I used to be credentialed, knowledgeable and not a hobbyist. 

Slowly my Bitcoin identification was overcoming my refugee identification.

Most of the people seems to be on the Bitcoin community as a playing recreation in which you’ll lose all of your cash. Many meetups had been beginning to seem within the Netherlands. I began working as a speaker. One such occasion within the Netherlands was referred to as Bitcoin Wednesday, held on the primary Wednesday of each month. Slowly, my Bitcoin identification was overcoming my refugee identification.

For years to return and each time I come out onto a stage, I’d ask individuals to place their arms of their pockets and take the cash out. In return I’d give them bitcoin for a similar quantity. Why? As a result of one of the simplest ways to know bitcoin, particularly after they hear the pizza story, is to make use of it. 

Cash and identification have been hand-in-hand for hundreds of years, but I used bitcoin with out an identification. Moreover my e mail, I didn’t want something to make use of cash and transact digitally. Nevertheless, I do want an identification to current myself to the world and work together with companies like training and diplomas, well being care and vaccines, journey and airline tickets. Know-how helps us dwell in a world the place we have to belief much less and confirm extra.

I’ve travelled to greater than 20 totally different European cities and some within the Center East delivering keynotes, public displays and main workshops exhibiting organizations the digital way forward for training, cash and enterprise the place it’s constructed on ideas of don’t belief, confirm.

Bitcoin may not be helpful for every little thing, nevertheless it positive as hell modified my whole life.


The chief in blockchain information, Fintech Zoom is a media outlet that strives for the very best journalistic requirements and abides by a strict set of editorial insurance policies. Fintech Zoom is an unbiased working subsidiary of Digital Foreign money Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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