It all began with a Tweet. https://twitter.com/GissiSim/status/636230365380800512
Gissur Simonarson, one of three founders of Conflict News, sent out a routine Tweet highlighting another heartbreaking situation as a result of the Syrian Civil War. Four simple photos showing a man, holding his sleeping daughter on his shoulder, trying to sell a few blue ballpoint pens. The message is powerful.
At Conflict News, we see heartbreaking photos daily – even hourly – but it’s our job. We recognize that there are astounding numbers of refugees that need our help; we report on it when the news breaks. We are human, however, and when requests privately and publicly were made to Gissur to help this man, who would turn down the possibility of improving this man’s life for himself and his daughter?
Through the power of the internet and our connections that we’ve made via @Conflicts, Gissur was able to find and secure a connection with Carol Malouf, who works for a local Beirut human rights aid group called Lebanese 4 Refugees. From there, news spread rapidly and the Tweets went viral.
It began with a video interview on Sky News Arabia following an exchange of interactions with Jessy El Murr, one of Sky News Arabia’s lead presenters.
Then just as rapidly as the Tweets went viral, the interview requests started pouring in. Meanwhile Gissur set up an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to truly help this man start a new life, and along with it, a Twitter account: @Buy_Pens. Additionally, Carol Malouf and a couple of other contacts were able to find the man in person.
Within 30 minutes of the crowdfunding campaign, the goal was met - a perfect demonstration of how powerful the internet could be.
As of the time of publishing, the campaign has accumulated $63,598 USD in just 23 hours from 2,263 funders. The bar showing how much the campaign has been funded is maxed out and states 1,272%. It’s truly inspiring.
More photos of the man have been found and his background was shared with us following an in-person meeting via our trusted contacts in Beirut. Abdul, the father, is a Palestinian Syrian from the Yarmouk refugee camp. He is a single father with two children, Abdelillah (boy) 9 years old, and Reem (girl) 4 1/2 years old.
Some of the funders left comments to thank Gissur, Carol, the Lebanese4Refugees team, and the Conflict News team for aiding this man and his children.
From Melbourne Australia your story bought me to tears this morning, and i hope and prey that the $50 i donated helps you and your daughter in every way possible to start an amazing life
Thank you so incredibly much for allowing us all to reach to this father. Hopefully it will not only help him and his family, but raise awareness about all of those who are in need, and how we can help make a difference in their lives as united Global Citizens. We love you Abdul, hang in there!
Thanks for your kindness. Only because of you we have been able to contribute for Mr. Abdul and Baby Reem. If possible please arrange a video interview with them and in this interview convey our heartfelt prayer to them.
Gissur, the Conflict News team, and a few of our journalist/activist connections are arranging a video interview with Abdul that will take place in a few months, most likely in Beirut. It will be a follow-up video to this crowdfunding campaign that will allow Abdul to tell us his story from his own perspective, and it will show us what Abdul has been able to do with his and his children’s lives following the outpouring of generosity from the internet.
As of publishing, Gissur has been interviewed on the following news channels and sites for his activism and the feat of raising $50k USD in less than 24-hours for Abdul and his family.
- Sky News Arabia
- BILD (Germany)
- BuzzFeed News
- The Independent
- The Mirror Online
- Vanity Fair (Italy)
- The Huffington Post
- BBC Outside Source
- NBC News
- Kavpolit (Russia)
Post/links will be updated as more interviews are published. To donate to Abdul and his family, click here.