Entertainment And News

Tired Dad Selling Pens On The Street To Feed Kids Gets $190K From Strangers & Loses It All

Photo: Twitter, YouTube
dad holding daughter, kids with their mother, interview

In 2015, Syria was in a state of chaos with civilians forced to leave their homes due to the extreme violence and a plethora of human rights issues. Work was hard to find and most parents were forced to do what they could to make sure their children had food, clothing, and shelter.

One such father was Abdul Halim Attar, who had left Syria with his two children, nine-year-old Abdelillah, and four-year-old Reem. They trio had taken up residence on the streets of Beirut, Lebanon and he had resorted to selling pens to make ends meet.

Uncertain of how long he could sustain his family, Attar’s luck changed one day when he came across a man who would turn out to be his 'guardian angel.'

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The man raised funds to support the Syrian father and his two kids.

That man was a web developer from Iceland named Gissur Simonarson. He came across the family and took a photo that he shared on Twitter in a post captioned, “Syrian father selling pens in the streets of Beirut with his sleeping daughter.”

Attar’s story went viral with people from near and far wondering how they could help. That prompted the man to set up an account for the family called @Buy_Pens, where he shared a donation campaign that would allow supporters to help them.

The man and his children ended up receiving an outpouring of support from people around the world. The donations totaled over $190,000 — giving Attar and his family a great start to get back on their feet.

At the time, the grateful father told a local news outlet that he planned to move with his children to Europe where they could get a better education. An alternative plan was to open his own chocolate shop in Beirut.

Simonarson was ecstatic about the family’s good fortune and posted a message to the family’s new Twitter account that said, “Abdul is now found! We raised over $190k for him and his two kids. Thank you all for the love and support!”

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It seemed all was well that ended well until he returned to Twitter to share an extremely disappointing update on Attar.

In October 2016, Simonarson posted to the @Buy_Pens account. He said, “Sad truth is that Abdul managed to squander the money raised for him, his children were not safe. The money that was transferred via @paypal might still be in an account held by Abdul. We are going to try to get it to the children.”

People were taken aback by the news that the dad had lost all everyone had worked so hard to give him. However, it is important to note that we don't know the full picture as to what happened in the man's life or why he was unable keep the money given to him.

There was much concern about the well-being of the children and the concerns switched from getting the family on their feet to getting the Attar children out of harm’s way and into a safe environment.

Not long after delivering the bad news about the money, Simonarson told followers that the children had been reunited with their mother in Turkey and were fairing well. There has been no update on what happened to Attar.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.