Fundraising campaign launched for family of Syrian dentist Mahfouz Balid killed in Lisburn crash
A fundraising campaign has been launched to help the family of the Syrian man who died after he was hit by a lorry as he cycled to work in Lisburn.
Mohammed Mahfouz Balid (47) died on Wednesday after the incident at the Knockmore road in Lisburn.
He arrived in Northern Ireland just over a year ago to join his wife Abir and their five children after the family fled the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo.
His wife and children were able to secure Irish passports as Abir’s mother was born in Belfast but Mr Balid came as a refugee.
He had worked as a dentist for over 20 years in Syria but after he arrived in Northern Ireland, he started a job in a nearby blinds factory as he was not able to practice in the UK.
Mark Feeney, a director in the Tech Skills Partnership NI, launched a campaign earlier this year to raise £6000 for Mahfouz to sit UK dentistry exams to allow him to practice in the UK.
He explained: “Earlier this year - we created a fundraising page to help Mahfouz become a UK Certified Dentist. We raised just under 3K from just giving and private donations.
“I met with Mahfouz two weeks ago and he was so appreciative and thankful for all the kind words and contributions made. He had a plan in place to become certified over the next 4-6 months and was so looking forward to practicing in NI."
Following the tragic incident, Mark has set up a campaign to help the Balid family with funeral costs and has raised over £2,700 in under 24 hours.
He added: “Mahfouz was tragically killed while cycling to work in Lisburn. He leaves behind a wife and 4 children - all completely grief stricken - missing the husband and father they loved dearly.
“We want to use the £3,000 raised previously and are seeking another £2,000 to cover the cost of Mahfouz's funeral.
“Thanks to everyone who have supported this work previously. Please consider donating one final time for Mahfouz.”
An online petition has also been set up to install traffic lights at the junction and it has now secured over 2,000 signatures.
Local elected representatives have hit out at the lack of action to improve the dangerous junction where Mr Balid died.
Local Ulster Unionist Councillor Alexander Redpath commented: "Between 2009 and 2014 there were 17 collisions involving 23 casualties along this short section of the Knockmore Road. In November 2014 a motorcyclist was killed in an incident at this junction.
“As recently as July 2015 I called for traffic lights at the junction of the Ballinderry and Knockmore Roads and warned the departments responsible that if the delay continued there would be another serious accident on this road. Sadly this has proved to be the case and further tragedies will occur unless improvements to this road are made as a matter of urgency."