Malaysia, 18 July-2014, WSJ: Ariza Ghazalee’s final post on Facebook was a picture of 15 pieces of luggage on a sidewalk about to be loaded into a car that would take her family to Schiphol Airport for the flight to Malaysia and a new life.
She tagged the name of her husband and four children in the photo, along with the words, “Starting our new hijrah, Alhamdulillah” and three hearts. Hijrah basically means migration. Alhamdulillah, Praise God.
They, along with 292 others aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, didn’t make it.
The family traveled a lot. Ms. Ghazalee’s husband, Tambi Jiee, worked for Shell in Kazakhstan and three of the children – two boys named Afzal and Afruz and a girl, Azmeena – had gone to school there. The eldest, Afif, studied at Taylor University in Kuala Lumpur. He had joined his siblings and parents for a vacation in Europe before they headed home to Malaysia.
A statement on Taylor University’s website confirmed Afif was on the doomed flight. The 19-year-old had completed his foundation in Natural and Built Environments at the university’s Lakeside Campus and was enrolled to study for a Bachelor of Science in Architecture at the same campus from August.
The second-eldest son, 17-year-old Afzal, lived with the rest of the family in Kazakhstan, in the city of Atyrau near the northern shores of the Caspian Sea. He was sad to leave. “Two-and-a-half years ago, I had no problem moving here, knowing that I could and would always visit home; but now that I’m about to move back, unfortunately it seems like I’m never going to come back here, at least not in the near future,” he wrote on his Facebook page Thursday.
“It has been one heck of a journey (admittedly not an action-pack one, but still an unforgettable one). Before it gets too cheesy, I just want to thank everyone who made it bearable for me to live here and for sharing with me amazing memories to reminisce on,” he said.
The youngest member of the family, 13-year-old Afruz, had been affected by the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. He’d chosen a cartoon of the aircraft, which was lost in March and still hasn’t been found, as his Facebook cover picture. His photo collection, filled with cartoons, included a drawing of hands reaching to the missing plane with the words, “Please come back.”
Afruz loved his cats and was a soccer fan. He liked Manchester United and was confident that Germany would win the World Cup. Earlier this month, as he left Kazakhstan, Afruz wrote that his time in the country, from Jan. 4, 2012, to July 4, 2014, had been the greatest years of his life. “Goodbye Atyra, Kazakhstan…. Goodbye friends, nice knowing u guys… Goodbye cats, Hope u’ll get a new kind owner… please don’t die.”
His sister, Marsha Azmeena, studied at the QSI International School of Atyrau, part of a chain of schools in 27 countries. Her most recent Facebook post was a news clip about violence in Gaza. Prior to that, she wrote a short poem for her father for Father’s Day.
“I’m so lucky as can be, the world’s greatest dad belongs to me. Happy Father’s Day! I love you Tambi Jiee.”
Mr. Tambi’s Facebook page is filled with photos of him and his family. The latest shows them posing together by Titisee Lake in southern Germany. Another is of his wife and children laughing in a waterfall at Sungai Klah Hot Springs, about 150 miles north of Kuala Lumpur.
Shell Malaysia said Friday that staff and family members were on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but it didn’t release any names. “We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of our colleagues and friends,” the company said.
Ms. Ghazalee’s cousin Noraini Hol was at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Friday. “We hope MAS (Malaysia Airlines) can find the bodies quickly,” she said. Ms. Hol’s son, Azfar Aza, was also there.
“My mum can’t believe it happened. It is not a normal way for people to die,” he said.