[Image 1: A woman in a pink hijab (Faouzia) smiling with her teenage daughter (Nur Huda). Image 2: A young boy in a classroom (Medhi) wearing a yellow spotted tunic. Image 3: A smiling man (Abdulaziz) with dark hair. Image 4: A smiling man (Yasin) sitting in a cafe, wearing a brown jacket.]
Part 1 of a series of posts honoring the Grenfell Tower victims.
The el-Wahabi family, from the 21st floor of
Five members of the el-Wahabi family – two parents and three children – died in Grenfell Tower.
Nur Huda el-Wahabi, described by her family as “lovable, smart and kind” was 16 when she died. After her death, her teacher James
Clements pledged £1,500 to have a character in a Philip Pullman book named after her. Bids to support his pledge soon rose to £17,000.
Clements and her other teachers spoke about her personality to the Evening Standard:
“She didn’t shy away from the limelight. She sat at the back
of my room, in the middle; she was a focal point. She liked to joke but worked hard as well. In that sense she was a positive role model. I saw her mature into an impressive young lady.”
Nur Huda was planning to study PE and English at A-Level.
She enjoyed Shakespeare’s Macbeth, her teachers said.
“Lady Macbeth is a powerful female figure. Nur Huda was a powerful figure in the class, others looked up to her. I used her work as a
model because it was impeccable. Beautifully presented in black pen,
thoughtfully written. She included the most challenging vocabulary so she could impress.”
The campaign to have a character in The Book of Dust named after her was a success. Philip Pullman talked to the Guardian about it:
“I know how I’d have felt if a pupil of mine had been in some similar disaster … The absolute injustice of it struck home with me, and must have done with so many others. So I’m very pleased to see the success
of James Clements’s initiative. I wish I’d met Nur Huda, and I’m desperately sorry she died. I hope the character I give her name to will be someone she’d have liked to know.”
Her brother, Yasin el-Wahabi was 20 years old when he died. He was the 47th victim of the Grenfell fire to be identified. His surviving family said that “his contagious smile will always be etched on our minds and hearts,” and that he was “a lovable, bubbly and caring young man. He would lend his hand to anyone who asked for help.”
He worked in a Subway sandwich shop and studied accountancy
at Greenwich University, but loved football as well. He was great with the
young children whom he mentored. His football coach Kamal Romain paid tribute
“I saw something in him that I thought to myself ‘That is the kind of young people that we need’… He would have been something big in this area. Easily, he would have been something big.”
According to The Times (behind a paywall, sorry) he wasn’t in his family’s flat at the time the fire started. He raced to the 21st floor to try and save them.
The youngest child, Mehdi el-Wahabi, was eight years old. His nine-year-old cousin and friend, Sara Chebiouni, was the youngest person to speak at the Grenfell inquiry. He liked Minecraft and Lego, she said, and “it is difficult knowing that Mehdi will never be able to play with us ever again.” His favourite foods were ice cream, curry and couscous, and his cousin thought
he might have grown up to be a comedian. His school teacher paid a tribute
to him too:
“Mehdi’s smile lit up any room, his kindness and generosity
to his peers and staff made him an extremely popular boy.”
His school made a memorial plaque in his honour.
Their father, Abdulaziz el-Wahabi was a NHS hospital porter known for his friendly nature. At the Grenfell inquiry his brother Hamed spoke about him.
“He was kind, a loyal family member, he had an infectious and caring personality, he left a mark on many people’s hearts and it’s evident by the endless love and support given to us by his friends and colleagues.
We, his family, intend to continue by his example.”
Nur Huda’s teacher James Clements remembered meeting Abdulaziz at his daughter’s parent’s evening:
“I gave a glowing report of her work. She was watching her father
closely. As a smile crept across his face she started to smile too. She looked proud…They were similar, she inherited her cheekiness from him. They were both outgoing and liked to joke.”
His wife Faouzia, born in Larache in Morocco, was described
as the “anchor” of her family. Her mother, Menana Jabari, spoke of the devastation she felt at her loss. “I will be forever waiting for my daughter and beautiful grandchildren to walk through the door,” she said.
Faouzia loved to bake and knit. She created handmade scarves and baby clothes which she sold to raise funds for the Westway Trust Community
Center, where she also volunteered as a knitting and crochet teacher.
She was devoted to her children, her sister-in-law said:
“You would always see her laughing and joking with her
children – whenever you saw her out they would be with her.”