Generous well wishers raised £15,700 in four hours for a private plane allowing a terminally-ill son from Hounslow to visit his mother in Algeria.
Mohamed Ziat, a coach at Queen’s Park Rangers, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in February during a holiday in Paris.
Ziat’s treatment was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and in September he was given one month to live.
His dying wish was to see his mother in Algeria one last time.
Badis Kolli, founder of the Forum of Algerians in Britain, after hearing Ziat’s plea to see his mum promised he would make it happen and started a GoFundMe page for the cause.
Kolli said: “Mohamed won the heart of the Algerian community. He brought us all together.
“As a community we have a lot of things that separate us like a politics and religion but Mohamed unified us. People are calling me every day saying they want to do something.”
Donations flooded in after videos of Ziat and Kolli’s plea for support went viral with the support of the Forum of Algerians in Britain and HIRA, Hounslow Islamic Relief Association.
The fundraiser received £25,000 in total with donations coming from as far as Somalia and Mauritius.
Kolli commented: “Some people who were giving the money were without jobs but wanted to give £20.”
Ziat’s story attracted the attention of the Algerian Government which granted special permission for the flight as no commercial air travel to Algeria was permitted due to Covid-19.
It cost £16,900 to charter a private plane to fly Mohamed and his wife Lynda from Farnborough Airport, Surrey to Houari Boumediene, Algeria on September 13 to reunite Ziat with his mother.
Ziat died on September 18 surrounded by his mother and wife in Algeria.
A mass outdoor funeral was held by the community in his memory.
Ziat’s mother thanked the Algerian community in London for helping her to see her son before he died.
The remaining money raised was donated to Ziat’s mother and wife to help cover additional medical bills, funeral expenses and to look after his family after he died.
Kolli explained: “Algerians are very close to their country and their mother and because we couldn’t see our family this summer it was like if Mohamed got to see his family. It’s like we went home.”
Ziat was born in Algeria and played as a first division footballer, later transferred to Germany but he retired from the sport after an injury.
He lived in the Hounslow area for over 20 years, working as a Special Assistant Agent at Heathrow Airport, transporting disabled and sick individuals to and from the plane.
Ziat was also a qualified football coach at Queens Park Rangers and was described as a talented footballer.
The Forum of Algerians in Britain plan to name a community centre in Islington after Mohamed in memory of his contribution to the community.
Image Credits: Badis Kolli