Tragic Loss and Unity: Remembering Wadea Al-Fayoume

Just hours after the tragic loss of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy allegedly killed in a hate crime, family and friends gathered at a quiet diner in Palos Heights, Illinois, to fondly remember the bright life that was cut short. Wadea was described as a happy child, full of life and spunk, who had formed a close bond with his neighbor and landlord, who is now accused of attacking him and his mother.

Wadea’s short but vibrant life was celebrated by over 100 people who gathered for a dinner at Al Basha Cuisine, where they shared stories about the young boy.

A Community in Mourning:

Wadea’s tragic death occurred on Saturday when he was stabbed 26 times at his Plainfield home. The Will County Sheriff’s Office arrested and charged his landlord, Joseph Czuba, 71, alleging that the attack was a result of hate, targeting Wadea and his mother because of their Muslim faith. Wadea’s mother, Hanaan Shahin, 32, was also severely injured but is expected to survive.

An Unconventional Bond:

At the dinner, attendees shared stories of the unconventional bond between Wadea and Joseph Czuba. Czuba, known to have supported former President Donald Trump, had, in many ways, adopted Wadea as a grandson, providing him with toys, a swing, trampoline, and gifts. Despite initial hesitations due to their different backgrounds and political affiliations, the Al-Fayoume family decided to live in Czuba’s house.

The Tragic Encounter:

Shahin revealed to investigators that Czuba was an “angry” man. In the petition requesting Czuba’s detention, it was stated that Czuba confronted Shahin and expressed anger about events in Israel. This confrontation escalated into the violent attack. Wadea’s final words to his mother, as he lay wounded, were, “I am fine, mama.”

Wadea’s father, Odey Al-Fayoume, had moved to the U.S. nine years ago, while Hanaan Shahin arrived 12 years ago from the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. The family came to the United States to escape violence in their homeland.

Community Support:

The dinner was attended by friends and family, and community members paid tribute to Wadea’s memory by sharing a traditional Palestinian dish called mansaf. The gathering was a testament to the unity and support shown by the community during this challenging time.

Yousef Hannon, a family friend, funded the dinner and expressed the sentiment that this hate crime affects not only Wadea’s family but every Muslim, Arabic, and Palestinian, emphasizing the need for solidarity in the face of such tragedies.

A Father’s Grief:

Odey Al-Fayoume, Wadea’s father, who was present at the gathering, shared his profound grief and disbelief over the loss of his son. He expressed the surreal nature of the tragedy, saying, “I still didn’t believe my son is gone.”

Fond Memories:

Close friend Mohamed Aly remembered Wadea’s birth and described him as a child full of joy, devoid of hate or anger. He cherished the early moments when he first met the newborn, seeing him as “another angel coming to earth.”

Despite the challenges posed by ADHD, which Wadea was diagnosed with at a young age, he brought happiness and positivity to those around him.

A Call for Unity:

Wadea’s tragic loss has drawn attention to the importance of unity and support within the community. The incident is a stark reminder of the impact of hate crimes and the need for solidarity in the face of adversity.

Leave a Comment