Viral Photo Of Syrian Refugee Prompts Strangers To Give Him ‘A New Life’

“I think that this campaign proves that humanity is not lost just yet.”

A photograph of a Syrian refugee went viral earlier this week. It was a heartbreaking image of a man cradling his daughter while hawking pens on the street.

More than 1 million people around the world shared the image, prompting Icelandic activist Gissur Simonarson to launch a campaign to find the man.

On Tuesday, Simonarson, who helps run the news site Conflicts, posted his request on Twitter.

With the help of locals, a journalist and activists in Lebanon, Simonarson soon announced that he had successfully made contact.

The photo's subject is named Abdul, and he's a Palestinian who was living in Syria until the war forced him to flee. Since then, he's been staying in the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus. Yarmouk, as CNN noted in a recent report, has been “ravaged by typhoid, warfare and limited aid.”

Abdul is a single dad of two kids, 9-year-old Abdelillah and 4-year-old Reem. To make a meager living, he’s been selling pens on the streets of Beirut, located about 80 miles away from Damascus.

Simonarson then launched an Indiegogo campaign to help the man and his children “start a new life.” The initial goal was $5,000, but that target was met in just 30 minutes, Simonarson said.

More than $42,000 has been raised for Abdul so far.


“I think that this campaign proves that humanity is not lost just yet,” wrote Simonarson on Twitter Thursday.

Abdul is just one of the 4 million refugees who have fled Syria since the start of the country’s civil war, which Mercy Corps has called the “worst humanitarian disaster of our time.”

More than 7 million people have also been displaced inside Syria.

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