The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday April 12th

Remembering Our Three Winners

A candlelight vigil in the Pit remembered Deah Shaddy Barakat, Tusor Mohammed Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha on Wednesday.
Buy Photos A candlelight vigil in the Pit remembered Deah Shaddy Barakat, Tusor Mohammed Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha on Wednesday.


Chaarawi attended high school at the same time as Razan at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh.

“The memory that sticks out the most to me was the last time that I actually saw them. It was a couple of days before their deaths,” Chaarawi said.

“Me and my whole family, my mom, my sister, my grandma, we all went out to eat dinner at Chili’s. Yusor and Deah had just come back from the honeymoon. All of us were sitting at the table and they were sharing memories that they had in Mexico. Deah and Yusor had gotten bracelets for the whole family, and I remember joking around saying ‘Oh yeah, this’ll be the accessory that I wear on my wedding day, and to this day actually, I have it on. I never took it off.”

Chaarawi said she felt that Yusor and Razan were more like her sisters, not her cousins.

“They used to hold me to such high standards, and growing up with them was such a blessing,” she said.

“I loved them as much as I love my sister.”

Yousef Abu-Salha is the brother of Razan and Yusor, and remembers the lasting impacts that the three made during their lives and even after their passing.

“They did so much positive work. They woke up thinking of other people,” Yousef Abu-Salha said.

Yousef Abu-Salha described them each in one word. “Deah is a leader. Razan is individualistic. And Yusor: Her name describes her. The word Yusor means ease, and she was just so easy-going and light-spirited.”

He remembers an ordinary moment he shared with Razan, just doing simple errands.

“We were just driving and made the decision to get some smoothies and listen to some music. But looking back on it, I’m just really, really grateful that I got to spend another moment with her,” he said.

Razan was a part of Project Downtown, which she managed through United Muslim Relief, where she helped feed the homeless and spent time talking with them.

“She was very creative, an architecture student, and used her talents to help others,” Yousef Abu-Salha said.

Deah raised money and traveled to administer pediatric dental relief in the West Bank and Turkey along the Syrian Border.

Yusor took part in a similar undertaking in Turkey along the Syrian border. They both planned on being a part of the Project Refugee Smiles trip this past summer.

Yasmine Inaya also attended Athens Drive and was a close friend of Razan Abu-Salha.

She remembers her drive and integrity.

“I’ve known Razan my entire life, but we never really got close until our last two years of high school. Being one of her closest friends, I got to see her true personality,” Inaya said.

“She was funny, classy and also sassy. She cared so much for people, and she was just such a good person and I was blessed to be one of her friends.”

Inaya said she learned so much from her while she was alive and after her passing.

“She taught me what was important in life,” Inaya said.

“She was so genuine, which can be so hard to find in a friend, especially during the high school years.”

One of Inaya’s strongest memories was of training with Razan for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon that occurred in downtown Raleigh in April.

The two had taken a conditioning class together in the fall, and trained constantly for the half-marathon.

“On our last run, which was on Jan. 31, we ran our longest run together, which was about 8 miles. That was a big milestone for us,” Inaya said.

“I remember we got to the car and she said ‘Wow, I feel invincible. If we can do 8 miles we can do anything.’”

Inaya said after Razan’s passing, she didn’t want to do the marathon anymore.

“Everytime I would go on a run, I would get so emotional, and it was as if I could hear her running beside me,” she said.

“I went from doing every single run with her, to running by myself.”

Less than a week before her death, Razan had purchased a new pair of running shoes in preparation for the race.

The two running partners were the same shoe size, and Razan’s mother gave the shoes to Inaya as a gift.

A campaign was started for running the race in memory of Razan, Yusor and Deah.

About 20 people ran the race in support of the three, including some beginning runners.

Inaya wore Razan’s shoes during the race.

“People will never forget this. And I guess that’s one thing that’s comforting, at least, for me,” she said.

“I open my Facebook right now, and it’s all about them. I remember her facial expressions, her little movements, her gestures. That’s what I think is the most beautiful thing of all, really.”

Patricia Hornick is an English and newspaper teacher at Athens Drive and instructed both Yusor and Razan when they attended school there.

“They were awesome kids,” Hornick said.

“They just worked so hard at everything and had truly good, resilient spirits.”

Yusor was an assistant editor for The Athens Oracle, the school’s newspaper, and Razan was editor-in-chief.

“They were both really dedicated to social issues, and would write on things that really affected students personally,” Hornick said.

“They would take things really personally, like the way that students were treated at schools. They wrote about really in-depth issues, and things that actually affected people.”

After the shooting, the Athens community rallied together for Feed Their Legacy, a food drive in conjunction with other Muslim groups.

A vigil was held in the cafeteria, where friends and family of the victims spoke, followed by students driving the food to a local food bank.

“It was a good day, and kind of cleansing for everybody,” Hornick said.

“I think everybody remembers them and of course doesn’t want them to be forgotten. I know a lot has been said about that, but all of it’s true. They were those people. They cared more about others than themselves.”

Hornick said she thinks their legacy encourages others to act in a postive way.

“It’s a horrible thing, and I would take all of this away just to have them back, but I know I have looked at life totally different ever since this happened, and tried to do as many positive things for people as I can, because our time is limited.”

@_rachel_bridges

city@dailytarheel.com



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