RFE/RL video goes viral on Facebook, changes the life of its subject

A touching video produced by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has gone viral on Facebook and is impacting the life of its subject.

The piece tells the story of an octogenarian male laborer, Syed Abdul Ghani, who makes several trips a day in the Pakistani city of Peshawar carrying 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of flour on his back one kilometer at a time (.62 miles) to earn money to feed his family. The video has generated nearly 23 million views and more than 9,000 comments on RFE/RL’s English-language Facebook page.

The video, originally released by RFE/RL’s Pashto-language station Radio Mashaal earlier this month, has produced more than 226,000 views and nearly 6,000 shares on its Facebook page.

The Middle East Broadcasting Networks’ Radio Sawa also posted the video on its Facebook page, where it gained another 1.5 million views and more than 30,000 shares.

The video triggered an outpouring of worldwide support and sympathy for Ghani, who has been lugging the flour for the past quarter-century and earns 300 Pakistani rupees ($3) per day.  A crowdfunding campaign created by RFE/RL has raised more than $6,500 for Ghani, who is now wearing new clothes and  — for the first time — shoes while carrying the flour.

A separate relief fund started by Raiyan Syed, a Pakistani-American man who says he was moved by RFE/RL’s story of Ghani, has raised $3,100.

“As I was scrolling through my newsfeed, I saw this video,” Syed wrote on his Facebook page. “I was moved to tears to see this old man carrying 100kg (200+ lbs) on his back every day, for about a mile to earn just $3.  I can clearly see my father’s face who passed away few months ago.  We are living in a society where we take so much for granted and complain for the littlest of things.  Both our action and inaction has a consequence.  In this case I had to do something.”

Some print media have also reported on Ghani’s hardships after seeing RFE/RL’s video, including Pakistan’s English-language newspaper The News International.

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Contact Martins Zvaners
Deputy Director of Communications, Washington, DC