Whoever said selling pens can't change your life has never met Syrian refugee Abdul.
When Gissur Simonarson, founder of Conflict News, saw him in Beirut desperately attempting to sell pens with his daughter sleeping on his back, he knew this was an important story to tell. Two photos quickly went viral and 24 hours later that man's life completely changed.
But it wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for the Internet and lots of caring people.
After posting the photos, Simonarson was overwhelmed with requests to know who the man was so that people could help him. So he made another social media callout to find him and used the hashtag #BuyPens.
Within 30 minutes, twitter user CaptainMaj told Simonarson that he sees the man everyday and the media founder was able to identify him as Adbul, a Palestinian Syrian from the Yarmouk refugee camp — a camp that Simonarson says is one of the worst.
According to Mercy Corps, the war in Syria is one of the biggest humanitarian crises in history, with thousands fleeing the country every day. The site says that over four years since the war broke out, more than 220,000 people have died and more than 11 million Syrians have been displaced.
Abdul — a single father to Abdelillah, 9, and Reem, 4 — is one of them.
He allegedly traveled from Damascus to Beirut — an 80-mile trek — to sell the pens.
After finding him, Simonarson knew exactly what to do.
"Finally found him =) Been a lot of work, but it was worth it! Now lets help them!" he wrote on Twitter.
He immediately set up an Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign to help raise money for Abdul and his children. He titled the page "Help Abdul and Reem start a new life."
In 30 minutes, the campaign raised $5,000. In less than 24 hours, it raised more than $60,000.
Every dollar will go directly to Abdul.
Simonarson took to the page to thank those who made the fundraiser a reality:
"I think that this campaign proves that humanity is not lost just yet," wrote Simonarson on Twitter Thursday.
A Plus has reached out to Simonarson for comment and will update accordingly.