Child asylum seeker raises $233,000 for Swedish charity

Eleven-year-old Ethiopian smashes charity fundraising target with weeks left to bring in more money

Murhaf Hamid poses with a Mayflower pin he is selling for a children's charity in Glimakra, Sweden. EPA
Powered by automated translation

Murhaf Hamid has smashed a charity fundraising record and won hearts across Sweden after a social media post about him facing racism while out collecting money went viral.

The 11-year-old boy born to Ethiopian parents in Sweden has totted up $233,000 selling paper flower pins in a traditional yearly campaign for the Majblomman (Mayflower) children's charity.

Murhaf has even managed to sell a pin to the Prime Minister.

Children usually raise about 1,300 kronor ($126) selling the floral badges, but Murhaf has secured a staggering 2.4 million kronor so far.

The young fundraisers earn a 10 per cent commission on the pins they sell and are allowed to keep any tips they receive.

“We have never seen anything like this before, and we've been around for more than 100 years,” the charity's boss Ase Henell told AFP.

Children sell the flowers door-to-door as well as online.

Dubai pupil, 9, raises money for children in need — in pictures

Murhaf said that on his first day out raising funds, some adults told him to get off the street and he sold only a few pins in five hours.

When he told a family friend that he thought it may have been due to racism, the friend wrote about his efforts on Facebook.

The post went viral and Murhaf received a flood of support — but there were also racist comments.

Political leaders, including Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, have since come out in support of Murhaf on social media and bought pins from him.

Laila Rahman, the family friend who wrote the viral Facebook post, told AFP she was “still very shocked”.

“I've shared a lot of posts before but nothing's ever gone this viral,” she said. She added that the attention the story was getting was about “so much more than just his sales”.

“It's also raising awareness for the whole situation with a boy who was born in Sweden almost 12 years ago and his family's [asylum] application still being processed,” she said.

If parents in Sweden do not have residency status, their children do not automatically qualify for residency by birth.

The Aftonbladet newspaper reported that after his fundraising bonanza, Murhaf asked his mother: 'Is it possible to buy permanent residency?'

“No, unfortunately not,” came the reply.

Murhaf, who lives in Glimakra in southern Sweden, said he had initially hoped to earn a little extra pocket money, but never expected to make so much.

His fundraising is not done yet — this year's Majblomman campaign, which began on April 18, runs until May 3.

The charity helps poor children in Sweden, providing clothing and paying for activities they cannot afford.

Murhaf has already thought about what he is going to do with the money he makes.

“I'm going to buy myself some clothes, trainers and a few things for my family,” he said.

Updated: April 25, 2023, 10:49 PM