2016 has been a pretty bad year, but it turns out, the world is not entirely a cold, dark place.
A few days ago, someone took a picture of a cleaner staring at gold jewellery through a display case in Saudi Arabia, and captioned it with, “This man deserves to only look at rubbish.” The Instagram post, cruel as it was, took a different turn as thousands of people sent in messages of support for the cleaner, promising to help him if they could only find out who he was.
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاتهارجو ممن يعرف هذا العامل ان يتواصل معي.
Abdullah al Qahtani, who runs the Twitter account Ensaniyat, decided he was going to find the man in the photo. Speaking to CNN, al Qahtani said, “I received tons of phone calls and messages in response to my tweet. Some were really helpful, while others were claiming that they were the cleaner. But three hours [after] my tweet, which was shared over 6,000 times, we found him.”
Twitter users identified the man using the reflection visible in the photo. The man, Nazer al-Islam Abdul Karim, is from Bangladesh, and works in Riyadh as a cleaner. Once al Qahtani posted a new photo of Karim, he received countless messages from people who wanted to help. “Some wanted to donate gold sets, others cash, iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones. Even a rice company wanted to donate rice bags to Nazer al-Islam.”
السلام عليكملمن سأل هذا هو العامل pic.twitter.com/x1KCQ7JPo8— انسانيات (@ensaneyat) December 4, 2016
Karim, 65, told CNN that he didn't even know that the photo was being taken. “I saw a flash. I didn't know what this was. Then I heard that my photo was in the media. I was just doing my job as a cleaner in the municipality and found myself in front of the gold shop. I am very happy about the gifts and very thankful.”
Turki al-Dajam, who is an executive at a Saudi sports channel, posted Snapchat videos where Karim was choosing his very own gold set. He also posted photos of Karim with all the new gifts he had received.
The fact that a bunch of strangers came together to help a man they didn't even know, is heartening to all of us. Al Qahtani, whose Ensaniyat account was set up to facilitate similar good deeds, said, “I really wish we can always stay united like this to help people in need.”
2016, there's still hope for you yet.