SANTA FE, Texas— Sabika Sheikh was only 20 days away from completing her study abroad program and traveling to Pakistan to celebrate the end of Ramadan with her family.
Sheikh's body departed from Houston at 2 a.m Monday and is expected to arrive in Pakistan, Tuesday where her family will host the funeral.
Sheikh's host family held their own service at a mosque in Houston and spoke of the teens positive and caring demeanor.
“We had no idea what God was going to send us,” said host father Jason Cogburn, speaking of when he and his wife signed up to house a student through the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study program. “He sent us one of the most precious gifts that I’ve ever had in my life.”
Sheikh had been in the U.S. on scholarship for the last 10 months. Host mother Joleen Cogburn, dressed in a handmade Pakistani prayer shawl Sheikh gave her for Mother’s Day, said Sheikh was learning about American culture and compared it to her own.
“We loved her and she loved us,” Jason Cogburn said. “She came here to represent Pakistan, and let me tell you something, she represented it well.”
President of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, M. J. Khan, encouraged young people to let their voices be heard and to stand in solidarity like the Parkland High School shooting victims in Florida.
"Every parent who has a loved one like this have one question on their mind; why did that person have in his hand? Every parent has one wish. I wish he did not have that gun in the classroom. It is not political. It is the truth," said Khan. "All of you young people sitting in the audience. Don't look at Austin or Washington to solve your problem. You must solve the problem yourself. Take the lead from those students in Florida. They stood up and they said no more. We just lost ten innocent, beautiful lives. We must also say no more."