STAFFORD, Texas: The world is in a deep state of shock as it mourns the death of 17-year-old Sabika Sheikh, a foreign exchange student from Pakistan, who got killed in a mass shooting incident at Santa Fe High School, Texas last Friday.
Sabika's funeral prayers were held in Stafford - a suburb just outside Houston, Texas - on Sunday in which numerous politicians, religious leaders and friends flocked to Masjid al-Sabireen to celebrate the young girl’s countless ambitions and dreams.
Joleen Cogburn, member of Sabika’s host family that had taken her in for her stay in the US, shared that she was a girl eager to learn about the American culture, simultaneously wanting Americans to know more about Pakistani culture too, thus wanting the two countries to come close.
"I asked her how she got involved with wanting to become a foreign exchange student and why, and she said, 'Because I want to learn the American culture and I want America to learn the Pakistan culture and I want us to come together and unite,'" Joleen said.
She then went on to add how she complimented Sabika on leaving her home at such a young age to come to America.
"I always told her, 'Sabika, you have a warrior's heart,'" she said. "She wanted to be a businesswoman and she said she wanted to impact the world, and I think she's done that."
Joleen’s husband, Jason Cogburn, revealed that in the short time that he spent with Sabika, she became so close to him that he started considering her as one of his own daughters.
"We had no idea what God was going to send us, but he sent us one of the most precious gifts I've ever had in life," Jason said.
Despite having stark differences in cultures and religions, Sabika bonded deeply with the family, he added.
She had even starting helping them with their seafood business.
"We loved her and she loved us and we did things together," Jason said. "She wanted to be part of what we did and we wanted to be part of what she did."
"When we went to work, she went to work," he added. "When she started Ramadan and started fasting, my family did that with her because we did things together."
Jaelyn Cogburn, Jason and Joleen’s daughter, said that Sabika was the first person she became friends with in life, as she had been home-schooled.
Recalling the time when she was feeling sad about Sabika’s return to Pakistan, Jaelyn said, "The other night we were going to our friend's house in a car and I was thinking about how she was about to go back to Pakistan and I was crying. No one saw me because I was in the dark. I was crying because I didn't want her to leave and she leaned over and she just said, 'I love you and I miss you."
"She was so loyal to her faith, her country and she only had good things to say about everybody. She loved her family. She couldn't wait to see them, and she loved us," she added.
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