Charlotte philanthropist returning to northern Iraq to assist refugees

Charlotte philanthropist Bahman Maalizadeh will return to the Middle East this weekend to deliver medicine, winter clothes, blankets, kerosene heaters and other supplies to refugees who’ve fled Islamic State militants.

Maalizadeh, 54, is an Iranian-American who owns a trading company and a firm that sells headsets and scanners at NASCAR and IndyCar racing venues.

He established the nonprofit charitable Norooz Foundation in 2003 and has made about a dozen trips overseas to bring food, clothing and other essentials to refugees fleeing religious persecution and to victims of natural disasters. He last brought medicines and food to refugees in northern Iraq in early October.

On Thursday morning, he will fly to Houston to meet with a doctor who plans to accompany him to the Kurdish region of northern Iraq to bring the supplies to Yazidi and Christian refugees.

The pair will fly via Amman, Jordan, to get to their eventual destination: the city of Zakho.

They will deliver about $120,000 worth of antibiotics and other medicines from the Atlanta office of MAP International, a global Christian health organization. Pharmaceutical companies donate the medicines.

In Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Maalizadeh will visit a market to buy the kerosene heaters and blankets, flour and possibly tents.

“If we don’t do it, there’s nobody else to help them,” Maalizadeh said of the refugees his foundation assists. “Right now, they are left alone.”

He also will bring stuffed animals. “The happiness I see on the children’s faces is my reward,” he said.