Refugee who vent viral for selling pens now owns 3 businesses and employs asylum seekers

Remember Abdul Halim al-Attar, the Syrian refugee who sold pens in Beirut to feed his children? He now owns a bakery, a kebab shop and a small restaurant.

Single parent of two, Abdul and his daughter, Reem, as he hawks pens in Beirut

Remember Abdul Halim al-Attar, the Syrian refugee who sold pens in Beirut to feed his children?

Well, the story of the 33-year-old Syrian refugee has come to a fairy tale ending after he received over $190,000 (5 Million Naira) via crowd-funding.

He now owns 3 businesses, helping out Syrian refugees.

In the last two months, the 33-year-old father of two was able to first open a bakery, and then later a kebab shop and a small restaurant. He also gave away about £16,530 to friends and relatives in Syria.

‘Not only did my life change, but also the lives of my children and the lives of people in Syria whom I helped,’ Abdul said.

Some few months back, Abdul was photographed trying to sell biros to passing drivers in the scorching heat in the Lebanese capital, while carrying his sleeping daughter on his shoulder.

The image touched people across the world – including Gissur Simonarson, founder of Conflict News. Gissur created the Twitter account @buy_pens, and an Indiegogo page to raise $5,000 (£3306) for Abdul and his family.

After three months, the campaign had far surpassed its goal – it raised £124,752, (4 million Naira) which was almost forty times more than expected. After the page closed, donations continued to trickle in.

As well as the businesses, Abdul moved with his children from their small one bedroom to a two bedroom flat in an unfurnished building in southern Beirut. His wife returned to Syria, and they are currently separated.

It’s been quite a ride for al-Attar: he travelled to Lebanon from Yarmouk, the Palestinian refugee camp on the southern edge of Damascus.

That camp is now destroyed by the war.

Also, being from Syria, al-Attar is Palestinian and doesn’t have Syrian citizenship.

However, for now, Abdul Halim al-Attar and his family are safe and sound in Beirut.

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