Deah Barakat/YouTube

Donations pour into Chapel Hill shooting victim’s Syrian charity campaign

It was his next big project. He can't carry it out, but the Internet is helping.


Eric Geller


Published Feb 11, 2015   Updated May 29, 2021, 1:53 pm CDT

Deah Barakat, one of three Muslim college students murdered in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Tuesday night, was attending UNC’s School of Dentistry who wanted to make a difference in the lives of Syrians displaced by civil war. In the wake of his killing, the Internet has stepped in to make his campaign a reality.

As of 7:30am ET Wednesday morning, Barakat’s crowdfunding campaign to provide dental care to Syrians living in a Turkish refugee camp has raised more than $23,000, surpassing its $20,000 goal with 170 days left in the campaign.

The number is heartening, but Barakat’s description of his campaign’s goals now reads as a heartbreaking story of an impossible future.

“In summer of 2015,” he wrote, “I as well as 10 local dentists and faculty from UNC School of Dentistry will embark on a trip to Rihaniya, Turkey to provide dental care to students of Salaam School.”

The campaign will fund both a dental clinic for those students and supplies for the dentists and medical experts who are working in Syria.

“The dental clinics have very limited dental supplies and equipment needed to treat nearly 1,500 patients every month,” Barakat wrote. “$1,000 can cover the expenses of a full-time dentist and supply the clinic with essential dental supplies for one month.”

In closing, Barakat wrote to potential backers, “We ask you to please open your hearts and donate generously. Your contributions will save lives and heal families. And with better health comes hope for a better future. Thank you.”

After Barakat’s death, donations and messages of support began pouring in to the page.

Messages from the more than 200 donors supporting the project included the following:

Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, you are lights in the dark that will never be extinguished. America, and more importantly people, can and must work harder to fight the hate within their hearts.

 Thinking a lot about Deah, Yusor, and Razan today. I did not have the privilege to know them but there is no doubt they were absolutely loving and generous. As a stranger, I wish that it was me in your place, I truly do. You had great plans and I cannot explain how heartbreaking it is to see life snatched away from you. May Allah bless your soul. I will always think of you all.

 Donating Chai–life in Hebrew–18–to celebrate the lives of those taken too soon by hate.

 May Allah reward those involved in this project immensely. Stay strong in your intentions my brothers and sisters. You are helping us become a united Ummah.

46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks, who turned himself in to authorities, faces three charges of first-degree murder for shooting Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

Screengrab via Deah Barakat/YouTube

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*First Published: Feb 11, 2015, 9:34 am CST