In 2015, a photo of Abdul Halim al-Attar, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, showing him selling pens on the roadside in Lebanon went viral on the internet and it changed his life forever. His photographed brought home for his children and the bakery of his dreams.
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 about $168,000 left after banking and processing fees because of the difficulties in transferring the funds to Lebanon.
Paypal doesn’t operate in Lebanon, a friend of the fundraising campaign was forced to withdraw the money from Dubai. The amount he received benefited both him and other Syrian refugees.
According to BuzzFeed News, Abdul Halim al-Attar was hoping to move to Europe. The Associated Press told him to open a bakery, a kebab shop, and a restaurant in Beirut.
Aside from the $25,000 of the funds raised sent to friends and family in Syria, he also hired 16 other Syrian refugees as employees in his businesses.
AP reports said that 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.”
Meanwhile, Al-Attar was also able to move his two children out of the one-bedroom apartment and transferred into a new two-bedroom. His four-year-old Reem has toys to show off while his nine-year-old brother Abdullelah is back in school after three years.
Though Al-Attar has changed dramatically, the odds of a similar jump in prospects are unlikely for the 1.25 million other refugees from Syria currently living in Lebanon. The country of only four million people has struggled to absorb the flow of people and while international aid has helped. The Syrian conflict has been a net negative on the Lebanese economy.
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