Good News: $160,000 raised for single-father refugee selling pens on street

August 31, 2015
Single father and Syrian refugee Abdul holds his sleeping daughter while trying to sell pens in the streets of Beirut. (Twitter)

Single father and Syrian refugee Abdul holds his sleeping daughter while trying to sell pens in the streets of Beirut. (Twitter)

By Brian Han

An image of a Syrian refugee in Beirut selling pens on the street while carrying his sleeping daughter went viral last week, which resulted in an outpouring of support for the family.

It was originally posted on Twitter by activist Gissur Simonarson. Soon after, he received countless requests for the identity of the man in the photo for the sake of providing him a helping hand.

Approximately 24 hours later, Simonarson had found Abdul and his four-year-old daughter Reem through the help of locals who were involved in the effort. It turned out that he had another child and was raising them as a single father.

Next Simonarson set up a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for those wanting to send funds to Abdul.

“Let’s make sure that Abdul and Reem can really start a great new life,” Simonarson wrote.

Within 30 minutes the $5,000 goal was reached, and as of Monday over 6,000 supporters had raised more than $160,000.

Simonarson assured donors that Abdul and his children were being looked after by UNICEF so that he would not get taken advantage of after receiving the money.

As of now, Abdul and his children will most likely receive the funds in monthly installments rather than as one lump sum so “he doesn’t end up with a bag of money, and not know what to do with it,” Simonarson told The Independent.

Simonarson with Abdul and his daughter (Twitter)

Gissur Simonarson, left, with Abdul and his daughter Reem (Twitter)

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