Abdul Sharifu's parents died in Congo's 2002 civil war and he moved to the US from Congo in 2017 after spending about five years in a refugee camp in Burundi.
Buffalo is experiencing a blizzard labeled by the National Weather Service as “life-threatening,” “once in a generation,” and “crippling," per The Washington Post. There are now 39 people who have died in Erie County from the blizzard, according to a New York Times report. In this crippling condition, Abdul Sharifu of Buffalo, 26, N.Y., left his home on Christmas Eve to get milk and other supplies for a friend and never returned. He was soon to become a father and was excited to have his first son in a few days. "He was always sharing with the other young men in the community how he will become a father, to be called father," his uncle, Enock Rushikana, told WGRZ.
Abdul Sharifu, 26, left his home in Buffalo Saturday in blizzard conditions to get milk and other supplies. He never made it back.— Suleiman Hashi (@SuleimanHashi) December 30, 2022
Sharifu is among at least 39 fatalities in Erie County, New York, from the winter storm that buried the city of Buffalo in nearly 52 inchs of snow. pic.twitter.com/3LDO1adrsn
Despite the difficult weather conditions, which brought about 52 inches of snowfall across Buffalo over four days, according to The New York Times, Sharifu felt compelled to help. "Anytime you call up Abdul, he was ready to go," his uncle, Enock Rushikana said. "He was ready to leave his duty to help," he added. Sharifu told his wife Gloria that he would wait for the storm to calm down. This did not happen for a long time and he had to finally leave his house to buy the supplies. At last, he was found lying in the snow six blocks from home hours later.
HEARTBREAKING 💔 Abdul Sharifu's wife, Gloria, will give birth to their first child in a matter of days.— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) December 31, 2022
"We got him in the car. I took off my coat, took off my hoodie," Savannah Jordan, who spotted Sharifu in the street said. "Tried to wrap him up as much as I could. He was breathing shallowly. He still had a pulse." According to a Kaleida Health report, "The driver of the vehicle carrying Mr. Sharif’s body pulled up to the main lobby/valet entrance of Buffalo General Medical Center, not the emergency department entrance," and those doors are locked at 9 p.m. each night. Sharifu was declared dead after being taken to a local hospital.
"I can't believe he left me," 28-year-old Ally Sharifu, a cousin, told the Washington Post. "My cousin was too good of a man. When you called him to help you, he would help," Ally also spoke to CNN. "That's why he went outside to get the milk because he wouldn't care what the outside looks like, he will try to come and help you."
Abdul Sharifu fled Congo's war and found safe haven in Buffalo.— Danielle Paquette (@DPAQreport) December 29, 2022
He died after getting stuck in the blizzard.
The city is home to a growing refugee population and advocates say official warnings need to be issued in more languages.@emily_wax reports: https://t.co/UPbjlt6APe
During a press conference, authorities said Sharifu had gone out to get food for his wife, but Ally claimed that he had left to retrieve food for another family. A GoFundMe campaign set up on December 27, says Gloria is pregnant and expecting to give birth "this week."
Sharifu moved to the US from Congo in 2017 after spending about five years in a refugee camp in Burundi. Rushikana said Sharifu's parents died in Congo's 2002 civil war. "He was raised as an orphan, so he had this dream to go back and help those kids who lost their parents in the civil war," he said of Sharifu. "He was an angel in our community. We nicknamed him '911,' because whoever called him, he was ready to help."
This is a developing story, and we’ll update you as we learn more. Information about the Buffalo snowstorm is swiftly changing, and WomenWorking is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency of developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication. You can check for information and seek help at Buffalo Blizzard Resources.
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe