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João Coelho Guimarães, from Brazil, had been estranged from his family, who assumed he was dead as they hadn't seen him for several years.
A businessman named Alessandro Lobo - who owns a men's fashion store and barber service - asked if Guimarães was hungry or needed something to eat.
Guimarães, who had been collecting cans on the street to survive, refused the offer of food, but asked if Lobo's barber service had a razor so that he could trim his large beard.
But Lobo went one step further, grooming Guimarães' beard, hair and moustache, and kitting him out with three shirts, a pair of trousers, a jacket and a new pair of shoes.
He Universo Online: "We decided to help him in a different way, providing a day of beauty for him."
After helping Guimarães, Lobo wanted to photograph him to show the drastic change in appearance, posting before-and-after snaps on social media to encourage other entrepreneurs to help those in need.
But as his post went viral, it eventually came to the attention of his family, who were able to recognise Guimarães once Lobo had preened his overgrown beard and hair away from his face.
As they hadn't heard from him in over a decade, they thought he had passed away and reported him dead.
However, after spotting the images online, they realised he was in fact alive and well - and his mother and sister travelled to meet him yesterday (17 December).
Speaking ahead of their reunion, Lobo said: "They saw the photo and contacted me and, since he doesn't have a phone or a fixed address, tomorrow we will go through the neighborhood to try to find him.
"It is Christmas time and the intention was to show that with little we can change someone's life. That we have to do good without looking at who. We did not imagine that it would have this repercussion."
Lobo said Guimarães is a 'very shy person' of 'few words', but added that he instantly saw the look of satisfaction on his face, and had been very grateful for the help.
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