Sunday, 15 May 2022

    New life to man without country

    Fadi X has no new friends yet; he left all his old ones behind, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

    Fadi X has no family left; they died years ago. Fadi X has no country, no nationality and no passport. Until recently, he didn’t even have a proper name. Which is why for most of his life he has been known as Fadi X.

    As calamitous as they have been, Fadi’s troubles all began with a bureaucratic oversight. His father, Hasan Moussa, had been a Syrian soldier stationed in the northern Lebanese village of Darbechtar in 1985, when he met his Lebanese mother, Hiam Chalouhy. The relationship was problematic: Hasan was Muslim, Hiam was Christian. No only that, but Hasan was part of an occupying force. (Syria invaded Lebanon in 1976, during the country’s civil war, and only withdrew its troops in 2005.) Nevertheless, Hasan and Hiam got married, and, in 1991, had Fadi.

    In Lebanon, women cannot pass their citizenship down to their children; only Hasan could do that, but he never bothered to register Fadi’s birth. (As it happened, he hadn’t registered the marriage, either.) When, a year later, the relationship fell apart and Hasan disappeared, Fadi was left neither Lebanese or Syrian. He was, technically speaking, stateless.

    The Kafkaesque nature of his predicament became most apparent after his graduation, in 2012. Though he emerged with a bachelor of finance and a master’s in financial engineering, his lack of identification meant he wasn’t legally allowed to work.

    Eventually, he was told about a not-for-profit group called Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB). Founded in the US in 2015 by high-profile Washington lawyers and human rights advocates Mary Louise and Bruce Cohen and locally a year later by Australian philanthropist John Cameron, TBB connects refugees and stateless people to international job opportunities. It is the only organisation in the world to do this.

    For the TBB team, getting Fadi out became a heartfelt mission. “He is a talented person who was in an impossible situation,” says Cameron, a former IT entrepreneur. Fadi’s credentials were exceptional: he was trilingual, resilient and demonstrably well qualified. After learning his story, two companies, global consulting giants McKinsey and Accenture, bid to take him on.

    In the end, after four rounds of interviews via Skype, Accenture offered Fadi a job in its Sydney office, as a management consultant. “That was one of the best days ever,” Fadi says. “I was overwhelmed with emotions.”


    How a philanthropist gave a new life to a man without a country (Sydney Morning Herald)