Displaced child’s ‘glasses’ auctioned for $4200, enough to buy Eid clothes for all the kids in his IDP camp

When Yemeni photographer Abdullah Al-Jaradi spotted a child named Mohammed at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Marib governorate on Monday, he noticed the child’s unusual pair of eyeglasses. 

The glasses had no lenses and appeared to be handmade from a wire clothing hanger. The child, named Mohammed, offered Al-Jaradi the glasses in exchange for a photo. That gesture led to new Eid clothes not just for Mohammed, but all the children in his IDP camp.

Al-Jaradi took to Twitter, where he announced he was auctioning the glasses in order to purchase clothing for Mohammed and two of his friends. But the winning bid turned out to be much more than he expected. Osama Al-Qusaybi, the general director of MASAM, the Saudi-backed initiative to free Yemen of landmines, offered 2.5 million Yemeni riyals, or about $4,200*. 

The photo featuring a smiling Mohammed wearing his wired frames was circulated widely on Twitter, and in addition to the winning bid, Al-Jaradi said there were additional donations by individuals.

There was a lot of interest from and interaction with philanthropists from around the world, Al-Jaradi said. More than 40,000 people have fled to Marib since the end of January alone, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The majority of the internally displaced are women and children.

The UN estimates that Marib now hosts about 750,000 displaced Yemenis, more than the city's original population of 500,000.

*Currency calculation based on a conversion rate of 600 Yemeni riyals per $1.


Editing by Ahlam Mohsen and Casey Coombs

Editors' note: an earlier version of this story calculated the auction price of the eyeglasses using a conversion rate of $650 Yemeni riyals per $1. The current rate in Marib is 600 riyals per $1. 



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