Community rallies to help brother of Chch terror attack victim after house fire

The death of Junaid Ismail in the 2019 terrorist attack makes birthdays a difficult time for his...
The death of Junaid Ismail in the 2019 terrorist attack makes birthdays a difficult time for his twin brother. Photo: George Heard
Birthdays are always a difficult time for Zahid Ismail whose twin brother Junaid was killed in the March 15 terror attack.

Zahid Ismail. Photo: Supplied
Zahid Ismail. Photo: Supplied
And this year the difficult day was made worse when a fire broke out at the Halswell home he and his family were about to move into.

However, the community has rallied to support Ismail, who lives in Hornby, donating $9850 over four weeks in a Givealittle fundraiser set up by his sister, a response that has astonished him.

"I’m absolutely taken aback, even if we had received like $20, we would still have been just as taken aback,” he said.

"Essentially anybody giving out of the kindness of their heart and their hard work is a big deal. We really appreciate every little bit.”

Since buying the Halswell property in April, they had been carrying out renovations and were nearly ready to make the shift when the fire broke out.

"We were almost there - two days out from the contractor finishing.

"It ended up doing a lot of damage, but the fire department got there in time to stop it engulfing the whole place.”

A large hole in the floor was perhaps the worst of the damage, and the impact of the ash and soot permeating the entire house was also extensive.

Junaid Ismail. Photo: NZH
Junaid Ismail. Photo: NZH
The couple had house insurance, but had not yet organised contents insurance.

"After the fire we were really, really taken aback - we knew we were in a bit of a situation.”

They were now working to organise the repairs and did not expect to move in for weeks or even months.

Meanwhile, they would continue to live with Ismail’s mother.

The family owned the Springs Road Dairy, which his parents brought when he was a small child, he said.

"We’ve been in this dairy as a family for 33 years.”

He now helped out in the dairy in the evening after his regular job.

"After [my brother] passed, myself and my wife took on a lot more responsibility.

A fire that broke out on Zahid Ismail’s birthday at his new home has prevented him from moving in...
A fire that broke out on Zahid Ismail’s birthday at his new home has prevented him from moving in while repairs are made. Photo: Supplied
"We sort of contracted and stayed together as a family after my brother went. It changed our outlook and our plans, we were supporting one another.”

This was not the only family tragedy he endured in 2019, with his baby daughter dying in Starship hospital in July of that year due to a critical heart condition.

Faith was the key to overcoming the hardship of recent years, he said.

"We’re very religious in terms of our outlook on life . . . it really gives us that platform to understand any sorry of adversity or grief that we have to undertake.”

This year Ismail and his wife welcomed another baby daughter.

Zahid Ismail and Raesha Ismail at the sentencing hearing for the Christchurch mosque gunman....
Zahid Ismail and Raesha Ismail at the sentencing hearing for the Christchurch mosque gunman. Photo: John Kirk-Anderson / Pool / Getty Images
"Thankfully, she’s completely healthy.”

He hoped his next birthday would be spent peacefully in the family’s new home.

"[The donations] definitely mean our future is looking a little bit brighter than we would otherwise have seen.”

 

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