How a Simple Photo Changed the Life of a Pakistani Tea Maker Forever

In 2016, Arshad Khan was a “chaiwala” (tea maker) on the streets of Islamabad, in Pakistan, but then he looked into a stranger’s camera at exactly the right moment and that photo catapulted him to stardom.

Arshad’s family has been making tea in Islamabad for almost 30 years, but he had only joined their stall for a few months when professional photographer Javeria Ali spotted him, in September of 2016. Somehow, the young chaiwala managed to look into Ali’s camera at just the right moment to have his striking blue eyes forever immortalised in a photo that has been shared online ever since. Hours after the pic was shared on Twitter, it went viral, and everyone started asking about the handsome chaiwala.

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From Rags to Riches: How a Viral Photo Turned a Street Beggar Into an Online Celebrity

Four years ago, Rita Gaviola was a 13-year-old street beggar in the Filipino town of Lucban. Since then she has worked with some of the world’s hottest brands as a fashion model, starred on hit reality TV shows and gained over 100,000 Instagram followers. And it was all thanks to a random photo…

Rita Gaviola’s incredible ‘rags to riches’ story began in 2016. Back then, she was asking for alms on the streets of Lucban, to help her family make ends meet. Her father worked as a garbage collector and her mother stayed home to look after her and her five siblings. None of the children attended school at the time and the family barely managed to put food on the table, so Rita often went out to beg for change or food donations. That’s how she was spotted by Filipino photographer Topher Quinto Burgos, who happened to be attending the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, in May 2016. He was attracted by her natural beauty and posted the photos of her on the internet, changing the girl’s life completely with a single click of the ‘upload’ button.

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