Hamptonite Roger Waters set a New Year’s resolution to help a family in major crisis, and he came through in a big way.
On January 8, Waters wrote a pressing letter to Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday paper, detailing a meeting he recently had with Clive Stafford Smith, lawyer/director of human rights group Reprieve, who informed him of two young Trinidadian boys imprisoned in Northern Syria.
Waters explains that his original plan to celebrate the holidays was to relax in front of a warm fire in the Swiss Alps, but upon learning of the brothers’ horrible predicament, those plans felt entirely frivolous. Rather than shut the world out to enjoy himself, he made a resolution with Smith to help reunite this family, and within a month he accomplished that.
The tale of brothers Ayyub, age seven, and Mahmud, age 11, begins when their father, Abeeb Ferreira, kidnapped them from their mother, Felicia Perkins-Ferreira, in 2014 and brought them to Raqqa, Syria to be raised by his new partner while he joined the fight for ISIS. When the caliphate fell in 2017, Ferreira disappeared, leaving his sons with their stepmother, who hastily left them on the side of the road to increase her own chances of escaping Syria. The boys were then taken into the custody of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, who moved them into the Camp Roj detention center for prisoners of war.
Waters appealed to the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, to help his citizens return home safely. He wrote, “Clive and I will do the work. I will fund their flights. But Trinidad must give us travel documents to allow them to come home.” The government refused to help, so Waters and Smith decided to proceed with the plan themselves.
The Telegraph reports that on January 22, Waters, ever a man of his word, used his own private jet to fly Perkins-Ferreira to the Syrian-Iraqi border. With a lawyer by her side, she crossed over into Syria and soon returned with her sons, released wholly back into her custody. While Waters was unable to enter Syria with the rescue party, he said that seeing the family reunited after they returned to the plane many hours later was deeply moving. Perkins-Ferreira thanked Waters, Smith and the rescue party, saying, “I’m really, really grateful, and I wish I could meet them all in one and embrace them.”