Nothing will bring them back. But many people and projects are preserving the memories of Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, among friends and family.
The three were slain in February, allegedly by a neighbor of Barakat and his wife in a Chapel Hill condominium complex. The shootings might have been the result of a neighbor’s obsession with parking, although there has been speculation about prejudice against Muslims. Barakat was studying dentistry, and his wife was about to enter UNC-Chapel Hill to do so as well. Her sister was a design student at N.C. State University.
In the months since the deaths, friends and family have in an inspiring way made good on the determination these young people showed to do good in the world.
The universities with which they were affiliated have established scholarships in their honor, six at NCSU, where Barakat and his wife received their undergraduate degrees, and one at UNC-CH.
But the volunteer work that has been done and will be done is a most fitting legacy.
Consider that Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and her husband had planned to go on an overseas mission trip and hold dental clinics for Syrian refugees in Turkey. Mission accomplished: Volunteers went to Turkey earlier this month and treated more than 800 patients.
The starting of classes at N.C. State and UNC-CH will enrich the legacy of these young people even more by helping other young people, seven of them, go to school.
One must believe that these three would be heartened by the story and the words of one of those who’ll be getting scholarship money. Olivia Kehoe of Charlotte is an NCSU student who though just 19 already has volunteered at a hospital to work with autistic children. “I sort of hope to keep the memory (of Barakat and the Abu-Salha sisters) alive through my volunteer work,” Kehoe said.
Before the year ends, a nonprofit organization that plans to offer services to young people, to reach out to the Muslim community and to help others with their own service groups will open in an East Raleigh home once owned by Deah Barakat.
And one spearheading the nonprofit efforts is Farris Barakat, who will never get over the loss of his brother but is determined to preserve a legacy of which that brother would be proud.
“Life is a test,” he said. “Now we’re given an opportunity to do something good. We have to take it.”