People were struck by a photo of this single dad. So they found him and gave him $191,000.

My faith in humanity is officially restored.

Meet Abdul Haleem al-Kader. He's been supporting this family by selling pens for the past three years.

Can't argue with that. Images via Al Jazeera English/Facebook.


Now, thanks to the kindness of strangers (and a single tweet), his life of selling pens on the streets of Lebanon may be over.

When Gissur Simonarson tweeted a photo of him selling pens in Beirut as he carried his sleeping 9-year-old daughter, it spread like wildfire.


Touched by the father's dedication, an online hunt to find al-Kader began. Conflict News took to Twitter using #GetPens and @Get_Pens to find him.



Thanks to the power of the Internet, they were able to find him and share even more of his story with the world.

Abdul Haleem al-Kader is a Syrian refugee and single father. Unable to find employment, he began selling pens to provide food for his children.

He left his war-torn country to create a new life for his family in Lebanon. Then, after some time in Beirut, his wife left him with their two children — ages 5 and 9 — after he refused to go back to Syria.

Moved by the story of the hardworking, single father refugee, Simonarson created an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for al-Kader and his family.

An empathetic public helped reach the initial goal of $5,000 in 30 minutes. When the fundraiser ended, over $191,000 had been raised. To put this in perspective: He made about $35 on a good day from selling pens.

Simonarson is teaming up with UNICEF to get the money to al-Kader and his family, as well as make sure they remain safe amid all the media attention.

The success of the #BuyPens campaign shows just how relatable his determination and love for his children are.

The campaign's success serves as a reminder of our common humanity. While most of us have not had to leave our home due to civil war, many of us know (or are) people working hard for a better life. His resiliency and dedication struck a chord with people around the world because the desire to do anything possible to help our loved ones is truly universal.


To make this story even sweeter, al-Kader wants to pay the kindness forward to help other Syrian refugees.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, he said: "I hope this campaign grows to help all Syrians. I hope other Syrians get a campaign the way I got a campaign, and people can see the conditions they are in."

If you want to contribute to the campaign, visit the Indiegogo page here.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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