The continued conflict in Syria and its neighbouring countries has left hundreds of thousands of refugees stranded and in dire need of help. Thankfully, some of these tragic stories still have happy endings.
Earlier this month, Gissur Simonarson, an Oslo, Norway-based activist, posted a photo on Twitter of a Syrian refugee in Beirut cradling his sleeping daughter in one arm while desperately attempting to sell a handful of pens with his free hand. Soon after posting the photo, Simonarson’s 6,000 plus followers took action.
Using the hashtag #BuyPens along with a full-on two day search from Simonarson’s followers and some outside help, the two refugees were eventually tracked down. Carol Malouf, an activist who helped find the family, took a selfie with the daughter, Reem, and posted it on Twitter.
“Reem came to me, hugged me & asked to take a selfie,” Malouf posted. “What a lovely lively child. A modest home full of love.”
The social media campaign helped discover that Abdul, the father, arrived in Beirut after fleeing from Yarmouk, one of Syria’s most war-torn regions. After locating the pair, Simonarson set up an IndieGoGo page to help raise $5,000 for Abdul and Reem. The page was completely funded in under half an hour.
After a single day, more than $80,000 had been raised for the family. Abdul is currently planning on sending his two children to school as well as helping other Syrian refugees with the money raised. With over 220,000 casualties so far, positive stories like these are few and far between, but Simonarson is remaining positive after witnessing such goodwill.
“I think that this campaign proves that humanity is not lost just yet,” Simonarson tweeted.
– Alexander Jones