When 17-year-old Haris Suleman and his father, Babar Suleman, took off on their around-the-world flight from Greenwood, the excitement was palpable.
Many people were captivated by the adventure, vicariously living out the pair’s dream. That the trip was paired with a philanthropic effort only served to enhance the atmosphere.
When their trip ended in tragedy over the Pacific, countless people across central Indiana and especially those in Greenwood who knew the pair were heartsick.
The funeral for the Plainfield teenager was conducted July 31 at the Islamic Center of North America in Plainfield.
The funeral for Babar Suleman has yet to be scheduled, as his body has not been found by search crews. The Coast Guard said it has suspended its search for Babar.
Haris and Babar Suleman, 58, were attempting to fly around the world in 30 days when their plane crashed.
During the memorial service for Haris Suleman, Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America’s Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances, said Muslims need to act to fight injustice in the world “and be ready to give whatever price it needs.”
“And that price may be our lives. And that’s what Haris actually attained, which is why we need to be proud, we need to celebrate that he was raised by a father who believed in these things.”
Although this has been and will continue to be a difficult time for the family, there has been a bit of uplifting news.
An anonymous donor gave $500,000 to the Citizens Foundation, an organization that funds schools for underprivileged children in Pakistan. Haris and Babar Suleman already had raised that same amount for the organization before their plane crashed, making the total $1 million.
Before the pair left, someone asked them if it was worth it and why they would take a trip spanning 14 countries in just over a month. Babar Suleman posted his answer on the pair’s blog on July 6:
“Granted, this is a risky venture ... so is driving to work every day, some drunk driver or swerving truck could take you out. Should you stop driving? No, you mitigate and try to become a more cautious and vigilant driver, but you may still get hit by someone who is not as cautious as you are. But that is not a reason for you to stop living.”
The spirit of adventure and commitment to a noble cause shown by Haris and Babar Suleman is to be admired. Their trip should be remembered for why it was undertaken and what it achieved, not for how it ended.