Heartbreaking pictures of a father selling pens on the street to provide for his family led to a miraculous crowdfunding campaign raising over $71,000 in one day.
It all started with this tweet posted by the founder of Conflict News, Gissur Simonarson.
Syrian father selling pens in the streets of #Beirut with his sleeping daughter #Lebanon #Syria pic.twitter.com/KOz4mjW1rd — Gissur Simonarson CN (@GissiSim) August 25, 2015
The pictures show a mystery man in the streets of Beirut, holding his sleeping daughter while trying to sell pens to raise some money.
The powerful photos went viral, and a campaign to track down the man launched across the Web.
Gissur started @Buy_Pens to raise money and awareness for finding the mystery refugee.
Have now set up @Buy_Pens. Will DM all followers once the man has been found with a way you can help. #BuyPens pic.twitter.com/caBWie7hgZ — Gissur Simonarson CN (@GissiSim) August 26, 2015
Gissur, with the help of the Internet, eventually found the man, a Palestinian Syrian refugee named Abdul Haleem al-Kader, and got in touch with him.
Another photo courtesy of @SyriaRoss. As I said, just working on the last points of verification. Stay tuned. pic.twitter.com/FNP5oBRDA4 — #BuyPens (@Buy_Pens) August 27, 2015
Abdul was a former resident of the Yarmouk refugee camp with his 9-year-old daughter, Reem, and 4-year-old son, Abdelillah.
According to an interview with BuzzFeed News, Abdul left Syria four years ago and took his family to Egypt. Eventually, his wife insisted the family move back to Syria and then left when Abdul refused; he had no job waiting for him back in Syria.
After Abdul was found, Gissur tweeted the following, along with a link to a crowdfunding website he created to help the family.
Finally found him =) Been a lot of work, but it was worth it! Now lets help them! https://t.co/Fcg59KTbbh pic.twitter.com/SjIDmytCeG — Gissur Simonarson CN (@GissiSim) August 27, 2015
His original goal was to raise $5,000, but the campaign now raised over $71,000.
Abdul reportedly said he plans on using the money to take his children to Europe, and if he can't do that, he wants to open his own chocolate shop in Lebanon.
Simonarson told Huffington Post,
I am humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. I'm just really happy to finally have a positive refugee story on the news.
Hopefully, this money enables Abdul and his family to find some security and a better life going forward.