It’s been a lesson taught in life life that part of a father’s responsibility is to provide for his family.
And sometimes it’s easier said than done, especially when you’re a single father and a refugee. Abdul Halimatar is a Palestinian Syrian refugee living in Lebanon with his nine year old son, Abdullila, and his four year old daughter, Reim. He was a chocolate factory worker before the civil war broke out in his country.
Abdul lived with his family in the Embattled Yarmulke refugee camp in Damascus before fleeing to Lebanon. He is just one of the millions of refugees from Syria who currently reside in Lebanon, having to start from scratch.
Abdul sold blue capped pens on the streets of Beirut to support his children, and just when things couldn’t be more unpredictable, little did he know his life was about to change. An Icelandic web developer named Yesur Simonarson saw Abdul selling the pens and while carrying his tired daughter around, Yasur became emotional and at the same time felt inspired by Abdul’s determination to take care of his family.
Yesur took pictures of him and tweeted them out to his followers. The image of a distressed looking dad trying to make money to survive struck a chord online and became viral, as shown by the tens of thousands of times Jesus’photos had been shared a few hours after publishing his original tweet, geissur got a lot of requests to help this man and his daughter. The photo touched the heart of many netizens who then decided to offer help.
Gussur decided to open up an Indiegogo campaign to make it easier for people to send aid to Abdul and his family. Gusur had hopes of raising $5,000 us to help Abdul and Ream start a new life, and in just over 24 hours, the fundraiser had amazingly surpassed $100,000 in donations. The fundraisers page has also been updated several times since it was launched to include more information about the family as it becomes available.
The most recent update came after Lebanese journalist and sociopolitical activist Carol Malouf, who runs an aid organization for refugees in Lebanon, went to visit Abdul and freedom at home. Carol Malouf had a meaningful conversation with Abdul about his life and his family.
Carol said that according to Abdul, he wants to help other Syrian refugees with the money and provide proper education for his children. Carol also asked Abdul how he reacted when he learned about the fundraising campaign. Abdul said he was surprised to know that people from other countries heard about his story and cared about his kids. Abdul couldn’t hold back his tears. He kept on thanking God and he hugged his children.
Abdul also mentioned he’s hoping to go back to Syria and for things to go back to the way they were. While Abdul has been busy dealing with the surge of attention that comes with going viral, Abdul said that his top priority is sending Herm and her brother Abdelilah to school. So far, Abdul has only received 40% of the donations, but he’s been able to do so much with what he’s been given.
According to the updates from the campaign, he has moved his family from one bedroom they shared to a more spacious two bedroom apartment and owns a kebab shop restaurant and two bakeries where he employs 16 other Syrian refugees. His children also go to school.
Now, not only did his life change, but also the lives of his children and the lives of Syrian people whom he helped. Stories of poverty and hardship are not uncommon for the millions of refugees around the world, particularly from the wave of refugees fleeing Syria. In Lebanon alone, there are one 3 million registered refugees from Syria and most of them struggle to find work and Abdul sure is a blessing to his fellow men even in his own small way.