How A Refugee Dad Who Once Sold Pens On The Streets Runs 3 Businesses Today

That viral photo of him selling ballpoint pens with his daughter asleep on his shoulder, changed his life forever.

Cover image via Hussein Malla/AP

This is Abdul Halim al-Attar, a Syrian refugee and a father of 2 kids

Image via @GissiSim

Back in August 2015, he was photographed walking the streets of Beirut, selling ballpoint pens so that he could feed his kids. In the photograph, Abdul was seen trying to sell ballpoint pens to passing motorists in the scorching heat, whilst also carrying his sleeping daughter over his shoulder. That photograph changed his life forever.

Abdul is now running 3 businesses in the city of Beirut

According to Mashable, the photograph of Abdul carrying his sleeping daughter on his shoulder while trying to sell pens to passing motorists in the scorching heat went viral and touched people across the world.

After the Internet managed to track him down, an IndieGoGo campaign in his name raised an incredible USD191,000, BuzzFeed reported. While Abdul has only gotten 40% of the amount left after banking and processing fees, the amount he has received has helped both him and other Syrian refugees.

The 33-year-old Syrian father of two opened a bakery two months ago and has since added a kebab shop and a small restaurant to his business venture. What's more is that, not only has he sent USD25,000 of the funds raised to friends and family in Syria, he has also hired 16 other Syrian refugees as employees in his businesses.

One of those moved by his plight was an online journalist and web developer in Norway, Gissur Simonarson, who created a Twitter account under the name @buy_pens and an Indiegogo campaign to raise $5,000 for al-Attar and his family. When it closed three months later, the campaign had collected almost forty times more: $188,685. Another $2,324 in donations has trickled in since then.

According to a report in the AP, he is currently "breaking even with steady orders of fresh bread and shawarmas from nearby workers and families in the working-class neighborhood of Ared Jaloul"

He was also able to move his 2 children out of the one-bedroom apartment they’d been sharing into a new two-bedroom. Four-year old Reem has new toys to show off, while her nine-year-old brother Abdullelah is back in school after three years away.

Now that he has settled into his new life, Abdul feels like a real part of the community, rather than an outsider.

He said that Lebanese and Syrians alike are much nicer to him.

Abdul Halim al-Attar, left, a refugee from Syria sits next to his daughter Reem, 4.

Image via Hussein Malla / AP

"They just greet me better now when they see me. They respect me more," he said.

Previously on Feel Good Friday:

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