Alberta company raises funds for Calgary man in Turkey helping injured siblings

Mohammad Ajmal Nikzad's sister Sajia remains in hospital after being seriously injured in the earthquake in Kahramanmaraş Turkey. Courtesy of: Mohammad Ajmal Nikzad

An Alberta company has started a fundraising campaign to help a Calgary man who is now in Turkey assisting injured relatives.

Mohammad Ajmal Nikzad left Calgary on Feb. 6 to search for his family, who live in the devastated Turkish city of Kahramanmaraş.

The seven-storey building in which his mother and three siblings lived is in ruins. Nikzad’s mother and sister were killed and his surviving sister and brother are in serious condition in hospitals in different cities.

“Right now I have to take them out of here,” he said in an interview with Global News from the Turkish city of Kayseri.

“I have to take them with me to my house in Calgary. I have to take care of them out there because I cannot leave them in this situation.”

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Nikzad works as a contractor installing floors in southern Alberta. The president of A Gallery of Floors in Olds, Alta., north of Calgary, describes Nikzad as a hard worker who has been with the company for around 10 years.

“We are a tightknit bunch here. AJ has been a very important part of our company. He’s like family to all of us,” said Shaun Waite from his office in Olds.

“His wife had sent us a video of the collapsed building and we all knew at that point that this was going to be a difficult journey for AJ and we wanted to do everything we could to support him because he is part of our family,” Waite said, who started a GoFundMe campaign to help his friend.

“Nobody can really imagine the pain and stress and anxiety that he must be feeling and going through.

“We have a lot of respect for him. And he’s such a hard worker. He’s such a hard worker he really takes care of his family,”

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Nikzad said his family is originally from Afghanistan, but moved to Turkey when his father was killed and his mother, who was a principal at a high school, received death threats.

“She came to Turkey to be safe. She had 6,000 students and she was fighting for girls to study,” Nikzad said.

“She would never let their school be closed until they killed my father out there too.”

Waite said Nikzad’s journey makes his story even more heartbreaking. He hopes that money from the fundraiser will help Nizkad’s family in Turkey and in Calgary.

“He is a contractor, so if he’s not working, he’s not making money. He’s been gone now for three weeks. He has his wife and eight-year-old son … he’s dealing with his brother and his sister, who have lost limbs. They are in for a hard road for themselves.

“We’re going to do some things at the store with donation boxes. We’re going to do some sales here and profit-sharing — whatever we can. He’s not making money so we’re all going to chip in as best as we can to do whatever we can. But we know whatever we can offer … it’s not going to be enough,” Waite said.

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