In an incredible twist, he turned off the GoFundMe campaign and requested people donate to those who are suffering instead.

Forty years ago, a man simply known as Hamza, was tried, convicted, and imprisoned for accidentally firing a gun and killing his uncle. He was only 16 years old.

After spending a literal lifetime in jail, it isn’t a stretch to assume that he’s become hardened to the plights of others.

And yet, after hearing about the ongoing conflict in Gaza, Hamza desperately wanted to do something to help the civilians affected.

Despite earning a meager 13 cents/hour for prison janitorial duties, he didn’t let the paltry sum stop him from donating everything he could to relief efforts.

And now? He’s getting the ultimate payback for his compassionate gesture.

One Good Turn Deserves Another

“Confused and heartbroken” by the news coming out of the Middle East, Hamza turned to his friend, filmmaker Justin Mashouf, for help.

Unable to donate his paycheck on his own, he sent it to Mashouf to pass on. All $17.74 of it. (The total sum payment of 136.5 HOURS of work).

Mashouf, touched by Hamza’s act of kindness, shared the paycheck along with his timesheet on X (formerly Twitter).

The social media post went viral, triggering an unexpected outpouring of love and support. Internet denizens flocked to the comments, wanting to know how they could donate to Hamza.

It prompted Mashouf to launch a GoFundMe campaign, just in time for Hamza’s long-awaited prison release. After four decades behind bars, the now 56-year-old has finally been granted parole.

“He has lived with the pain of losing his family member due to his own mistake every day for decades,” Mashouf wrote on the page. “While in prison, he has become a devout Muslim and has been pleading for parole for decades… Hamza has finally been granted parole and is set to walk free NEXT MONTH!”

He also explained that the funds raised would give Hamza a “fresh start.”

“Your contributions will empower him to transition back into society with dignity and security after years of isolation,” he wrote. “With your help, Hamza will access essential resources, secure housing and transportation, and navigate the challenges of his new freedom.”

Within two days, the fund was sitting at a whopping $102,172.

“He gave people hope by showing how selfless he is, and then they gave him hope through their kindness.”

Justin Mashouf via the Washington Post

Paying It Forward

Almost as quickly as it started, the campaign ended. In an incredible twist, Hamza chose to forego fortune and redirect the support he received towards those in desperate need.

“He said whatever has already been donated is sufficient for him,” Mashouf shared. “And that he didn’t want to distract people from those who were suffering more than him.”

In an update on the GoFundMe, Hamza thanked everyone for their generosity and kindness.

He then asked people to consider donating to victims of war and poverty in Palestine, Yemen, and Africa.

“Look upon and consider the suffering children, mothers and fathers of Palestine, Yemen, and Africa living under inhuman[e] conditions, being bombed every hour of the day, without water, shelter, medication and food … who are ordinary people and citizens just like all of you living their lives having not a thing to do with the politicians, but are suffering [in]humanely, please give to them,” he wrote.

On a personal note, he also revealed that he is looking forward to life on the other side of the prison gates.

“I look forward to the promise of life, happiness, struggles and dreams, to soar and spread my wings, to be a man, a human being once again now that I know the preciousness and the incalculable value of Life.”

The Impact Even the Smallest Gestures of Kindness Can Have

Hamza’s donation to the people of Gaza wasn’t huge. In fact, it was pretty inconsequential as far as monetary contributions go. But its impact was significant.

By giving what he could, he inspired thousands to rally behind him. And that $17.74? Turned into more than $100,000.

An unlikely hero, Hamza is proof that empathy, compassion, and goodness can thrive in any circumstance — even in those, like the confines of a prison cell, where it seems impossible.