Sales skyrocket after a viral post about the boy, and a racist backlash only makes more money as people rally behind him.
Stockholm, Sweden – Murhaf Hamid had hoped to earn enough money to buy a pizza with friends when he started selling “majblommor” flower pins in southern Sweden.
Children aged 9 to 12 sell the pins as part of an annual campaign by Majblomman, Sweden’s oldest charity, to fight child poverty in the country.
The children get to keep 10 percent of the money raised and any tips.
Murhaf, 11, never expected to break the charity’s fundraising record and become a viral sensation along the way.
It didn’t start well for Murhaf. Some adults told him to get off the street, leaving him discouraged.
A family friend, Leila Orahman, saw the rejections upset Murhaf and decided to write a social media post about him.
It quickly went viral and eventually made headlines across the country when more than 3.2 million kroner ($223,200) poured onto his digital fundraising page. He also received 112,000 kroner ($10,830) in tips.
Åsa Henell, the charity’s general secretary, told TT Newswire that the sales were “completely unbelievable” and that they had “never seen anything like it”. She said kids usually fetch around $100.
Public gatherings after racist remarks
While a majority of comments on Orahman’s post supported Murhaf’s campaign, there were also racist comments.
A tweet from an ostensible member of the far-right populist Swedish Democrats party used various racial slurs and suggested that a “white Swedish child” should receive all public support.
Born in Sweden, Murhaf has asylum seeker status and does not have a residence permit.
The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported that Murhaf’s family’s asylum application has been rejected three times. However, due to a number of reasons, the family cannot be deported to his mother’s homeland of Ethiopia.
The hateful comments only brought more attention to the campaign as people rallied behind Murhaf, including Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, who said those who wrote racist comments should be ashamed.
Orahman told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that it was not the first time Murhaf had been a victim of racism.
However, she highlighted the “very positive response from the Swedish public” with so much money pouring into his fundraising page that it crashed.
‘Boost my confidence’
Murhaf has now been invited to the Swedish Parliament and City Hall in Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city.
Murhaf told SVT, Sweden’s public broadcaster, that he “wanted to buy a residence permit” with the money, but accepted “it’s not possible”.
Instead, he plans to buy a cell phone, shoes, and clothes.
He said that being able to sell so many flower pins “has increased my confidence in myself, that I can handle more things in life”.
The Swedish Democrats described the racist remarks as “unacceptable behavior”.
“We have notified our membership department and will be handling the matter internally,” a statement said.