Local immigrant uses connections for Turkey earthquake relief fundraiser

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Ata Bahadir has built a life and a name for himself in the local Albuquerque community over the past 20 years since his family emigrated from Turkey. 

His grandparents came to New Mexico first, and the rest of his family followed. 

“Most of us had no English or didn’t even know what was going on around us,” said Bahadir. “It’s definitely a different custom, different lifestyle, different environment, you know different religion, different everything.”

Recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria destroyed his hometown. 

“My parents, my uncle, everybody in my family– the city they grew up in is leveled,” said Bahadir.  “All the buildings they grew up in, the building I was born and raised in. We lost probably over 40 extended family, relatives, old friends, in one night.”

Including his uncle’s wife, Elcin who was in Turkey visiting her mom at the time of the earthquake and didn’t make it. She had a life of more than 20 years in Albuquerque, a job at a local daycare, and two teenagers in high school. 

“It’s really scary, and it’s something that you don’t want even your worst enemy to go through,” said Bahadir.

Bahadir worked his way into the local Albuquerque nightlife scene in 2017 and has since opened two small businesses: “Mr. AfterHours Presents” for booking DJs and other entertainment for local clubs, and “Casa Cocktails” a mobile bartending business that also sells at-home cocktail boxes. 

Connections he has supported through those businesses are now supporting him. 

DJs, headliners, even locals visiting downtown clubs have stepped up to help raise about $10,000 so far for Bahadir’s hometown. 

“This whole Albuquerque nightlife community got behind me and helped me a lot so that was really emotional for me too. I couldn’t do it without them,” said Bahadir. 

You can donate to the GoFundMe page here.