This father had to sell pens on the street to survive: thanks to a photo, he became an entrepreneur
March 15, 2023
Sometimes life can be very hard and it can present us with some very tough challenges. Abdul Halim al-Attar, a single dad who - having fled the civil war in Syria - knows how cruel life can be when he was forced to abandon his home.
Before the war, Abdul worked in a chocolate factory in the city of Damascus. But in Lebanon - where he took refuge - he sold pens on a Beirut street, accompanied by his children. One day, Abdul's young daughter was very sleepy, but he didn't want her to sleep on the street, so she held her in his arms while he continued his job selling pens.
The tender scene was immortalized in a photo taken by a passerby and shared on social media. The photo caught the attention of Gissur Simonarson, a journalist and internet developer in Norway, who immediately launched a fundraising campaign to help Abdul and his family. The aim was to raise at least $5,000 dollars.
Within hours, Simonarson achieved this goal and, three months later, $197,000 dollars had been raised for Abdul. Thanks to these donations, Abdul was able to open a bakery and has recently also opened a kebab shop and a small restaurant, offering work to 16 other Syrian refugees.
Once he was back on his feet, Abdul moved his family into a rented apartment to ensure their comfort and safety. His four-year-old daughter Reem - the girl pictured in the famous photo - is delighted with her new toys and her brother Abdullelah, 9, has returned to school after a three-year absence.
Abdul expressed extreme gratitude towards Simonarson's gesture: "It has not only changed my life, but also that of my children and the people I have employed," he declared. The man also thanked all the people of the web for their incredible generosity: "When God wants to give you something, you will get it", Abdul commented.
This story that reminds us that the internet is a powerful tool and solidarity between people around the world is still possible.