Arab filmmaker's social media posts may change a homeless man's life

A Jordanian filmmaker’s series of posts about a homeless man she met last month in London’s Holland park have gone viral, and may even change his life. 

In the posts, shared via her Facebook and Instagram accounts on Monday, Samah Safi Bayazid writes about the encounter and her decision to buy the homeless man an instant camera to help him make money by selling photos to tourists.

This is exactly how it all went down: 

“As I stood underneath a cherry blossom tree while my friend Rawan was photographing me, an older man approached us and started speaking to us with a heavy Scottish accent saying ‘I have a suggestion to enhance the photo, I will shake the tree while your friend takes your photo’ and what do you know, the blossoms started falling down just like rain and we ended up with a magical photo,” she wrote. 

Soon after the incident, it caught her friend’s attention that the man might be homeless and so the two women decided to approach him and see if there was anything they could do to help. The man told them his name is Andrew, but never asked for help and made no mention of the fact that he was homeless, prompting Bayazid to press on. 

“With shyness and humility he responded that he was homeless and lived in the park,” she wrote. The two women then asked if there were any shelters around, and Andrew said there were but he couldn’t afford to stay in one. “He then changed the subject saying that he’s OK and knows how to take care of himself.” 

Instead of giving Andrew money or offering him a meal, Bayazid decided to buy him a camera so that he could sell instant photos to tourists who visit the park. After finding a store that sells one, she returned to the park with the camera, batteries, film and a sign that read “do you want an instant photo? I’m a homeless photographer, support me.” 

Handing it to Andrew, Bayazid and her friends then taught him how to use it and explained where he could buy batteries and films for it when they run out. Before leaving the park, the filmmaker recalls telling him, “this camera will not change your life, dear Andrew; but it could be the beginning and help you get your daily needs without having to rely on anyone.” 

Bayazid stresses on the fact that she asked Andrew’s permission before sharing the post, which has now gone viral. Just a day after her post began circulating online, Bayazid also revealed that an organization that helps homeless people in London had reached out to her offering to provide Andrew shelter and medical care. 

Before ending her posts, Bayazid explained that the purpose of sharing them was to ask everyone “to help someone around you that is in need with something simple and in a genuine and creative way.” 

“You don’t have to be an organization or rich to help someone and your help doesn’t necessarily have to be a drastic help that would change someone’s life around but a simple aide or help is more than enough and it’s the least we can all do,” she added. 

Andrew now takes photos of tourists and asks them to share them on social media via the hashtag #AndrewBraveHeart. A few people have since posted their photos via the hashtag and Bayazid encourages anyone who visits Holland park in London to approach Andrew and ask for a photo. 

By Mariam Nabbout

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