Brooklyn Park family creates scholarship in honor of brother killed by flu

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A Brooklyn Park family is turning their pain into a mission. After losing their son and brother from complications of the flu last year, the Sarim family turned their grief into a plan to shape young lives.

Moe Sarim was a healthy 41-year-old when he came down with the flu last year. He did not get the flu shot, and despite the urging of others, he didn’t go to the doctor. He collapsed after opening up his office on Jan. 23, 2018 and never recovered.

“It was just like him to tough it out and despite feeling terrible, still made it to work where he ran out of gas,” said Marty Sarim, Moe’s brother.

Marty says that along with his parents and his other brother Seraj, the family made a pact to raise awareness of the flu and start a scholarship for good students in need of financial help.

Seraj Sarim is a photojournalist at FOX 9. Our newsroom watched how difficult it was for him to lose his older brother and protector, but we also saw how important it was to find something positive. 

The idea for a scholarship came when the family started looking through Moe’s personal items and came across a trunk full of all of his old report cards, certificates and awards from grade school through high school.

“My dad preached education from the day we grew up; school and books and school and books and college and university and all of that,” Marty added. 

The Sarim family came to the U.S. from Afghanistan as refugees in the 1980s when Moe was five years old and Marty was four years old. Seraj came along a few years later in the U.S. Marty and Moe both had to learn the language and start school in a brand new environment.

“You’re trying to keep up and trying to learn the language and we grew up in a neighborhood with incredible people and lifelong friends to this day," said Marty. "[And they] helped to bridge the gap between our culture and the Minnesota way of doing things."

The Sarims decided to start the MOE 123 Scholarship fund and raised about $26,000 in the first year.

With 41 applicants, they selected five high school seniors from their alma mater, Park Center High School. On Jan. 23, 2019 - one year after Moe collapsed - they awarded those big checks to honor Moe and celebrate what is otherwise a very difficult day on the family calendar.  

The five students awarded scholarships were Aadil Bede, Jeliah Ogega, Jireh Babalola, Envy Agbonkhese, and Malika Achingale Barbie Odera.

“This country has done a lot for us and people have given us a lot and now we are in a position in our lives and we enjoy giving back to others," said Marty. "There’s a reason for this and there’s a reason why the world lost a very good person."

If you’d like to learn more about the MOE 123 Scholarship, click here.