Abdul Halim al-Attar now has a new house for his children and the bakery of his dreams after being captured selling pens by the side of the road in Lebanon.
Abdul Halim al-Attar, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, went viral in 2015 after a photo of him selling pens on the side of the road went viral.
That photograph had a profound impact on his life.
An IndieGoGo campaign in his name raised an astonishing $191,000 after the internet was able to hunt him down.
Due to challenges in moving the monies to Lebanon, Al-Attar has only received 40% of the remaining sum after banking and processing costs — around $168,000 — so far.
Because PayPal does not operate in Lebanon, a friend of the fundraising campaign was forced to bring money from Dubai. However, the cash he has received has aided him as well as other Syrian refugees.
Despite telling BuzzFeed News in August that he wanted to move to Europe, he’d built a bakery, a kebab business, and a restaurant in Beirut when the Associated Press caught up with him.
He has not only contributed $25,000 to friends and relatives in Syria, but he has also hired 16 additional Syrian refugees as employees in his enterprises.
According to the Associated Press, Al-Attar is reportedly “breaking even” with constant orders of fresh bread and shawarmas from surrounding workers and families in Ared Jaloul’s working-class area.
Al-Attar was also able to relocate his two daughters from their one-bedroom flat to a new two-bedroom apartment.
Reem, four, has new toys to show off, and her nine-year-old brother Abdullelah has returned to school after a three-year absence.
Though al-position Attar’s has improved drastically, the likelihood of a comparable improvement 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.