After being photographed selling pens roadside in Lebanon, Abdul Halim al-Attar now has a new home for his children and the bakery of his dreams. Back in 2015, a photo of Abdul Halim al-Attar, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, showing him selling pens on the side of the street went viral. That picture changed his life forever!
After the internet managed to track him down, an IndieGoGo campaign in his name raised an incredible $191,000.Hussein Malla / AP Al-Attar has only gotten 40% of the amount left after banking and processing fees — about $168,000 — so far, thanks to difficulties in transferring the funds to Lebanon
PayPal doesn’t operate in Lebanon, forcing a friend of the fundraising campaign to bring over withdrawn amounts from Dubai. But the amount he’s received has helped both him and other Syrian refugees.
Though he told BuzzFeed News in August that he was hoping to move to Europe, when the Associated Press caught up with him he’d opened a bakery, a kebab shop, and a restaurant in Beirut. Not only has he sent $25,000 of the funds raised to friends and family in Syria,
he’s also hired 16 other Syrian refugees as employees in his businesses. Hussein Malla / AP Al-Attar 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,” the AP reports.
Al-Attar was also able to relocate his two daughters from their shared one-bedroom flat to a new two-bedroom. Reem, four, has new toys to show off, and her nine-year-old brother Abdullelah has returned to school after a three-year absence. Despite the fact that al-circumstances Attar’s has drastically changed,
The chances of a similar improvement in prospects for the 1.25 million Syrian refugees currently residing in Lebanon are slim. The small country of four million people has struggled to absorb the influx of refugees, and while foreign aid has helped, the Syrian crisis has had a negative impact on the Lebanese economy.