For their first Christmas in Canada, the Barzagars had turkey—an experience that sounds commonplace but was anything but. Not only was it their first time eating this holiday favourite, the occasion marked a rare opportunity for the struggling family to get some healthy protein.
The turkey was provided by their local food bank.
After arriving from Kuwait in 1997, the family of eight was in “survival mode,” always wondering where their next meal would come from. The children’s hunger was so overwhelming at times, it kept them awake at night and unable to focus on school during the day. But when a social worker introduced the Barzagars to the food bank, their lives began to turn around.
“We didn’t feel like we were alone anymore. We got so much support from the community,” says Matti Barzagar, who was just a teenager back then. “If it wasn’t for the food bank, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Keen to give back as adults, three of the Barzagars—Matti, Moe and Hani—have made community outreach their guiding purpose, putting people before profit in everything they do at HIBCO Construction in Edmonton. The food bank gave them hope; they see this as their chance to share it with others.
“You get, you give back, and you keep the cycle going,” says Moe, an AMA member since 2019. “To us, helping others is what success looks like.”