Our Story

Peter Kassig, a humanitarian worker in Syria, was tragically killed by ISIS insurgents in 2014. Kassig’s organization, Special Emergency Response and Assistance, was committed to providing humanitarian assistance to victims of conflict in Syria. Inspired by Kassig’s work, Sikandar Khan, then an undergraduate at Seton Hall University’s International Relations program, proposed the idea of GERA to continue his legacy. Together with Oumar Kouraogo and Valeria Gomez Palacios, his classmates at SHU, he aspired to build a New Jersey-based humanitarian non-profit serving the most vulnerable at home and abroad.

GERA’s inspiration comes from the team’s personal experiences with social injustice. While serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, Sikandar was deeply affected by the manipulation of vulnerable youth by terrorist organizations in conflict zones. Valeria was raised in Nicaragua, and Oumar in Burkina Faso, where they routinely witnessed extreme injustice and inequality. This core team grew when Teresa Reynolds, a passionate humanitarian, joined GERA in 2016.

This dedicated team has grown GERA from the ground up, and has attracted strong partners and committed donors, who support its grassroots initiatives for refugees, youth, and other vulnerable populations.