The AAPI community gathered on Sunday for a funeral honoring Daoyou Feng, a victim of the March shooting in Atlanta, who didn’t have any close friends or family in the U.S.
Dr. Charles Li, a founder of the Atlanta Chinese American Alliance (ACAA) which organized the funeral via a GoFundMe campaign, said that around 100 mourners attended the service.
Some came as far from Alabama and Washington, D.C. to pay their respects, he added, according to ABC.
“It was a great feeling seeing this great show of support from people not only from the Chinese American community in Atlanta but also our friends from the Korean American community, who are mourning the loss of their own, too,” he said.
Feng, a 44-year-old Chinese national, was one of six Asian women killed in the shooting last month. Eight people were killed in total.
Her family in China, however, reportedly had no clue about her death until they noticed that she hadn’t been sending them messages. They only found out after contacting the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C., who then contacted the ACAA.
In preparation for the funeral, Li spent two weeks talking to Feng’s brother in China and learned that Feng moved to the U.S. in 1999 to better provide for her family.
“Her parents were poor farmers who never went to school. She had two brothers and one sister,” Li explained, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “When she was 8 years old, her father died of an illness. She dropped out of school in third grade. She had to stay home and help her mother.”
She left without a word, leaving behind a letter because she knew her family wouldn’t let her go.
“Her family said Feng traveled a lot when she was in America, going to New York City and Los Angeles to find work, mostly at cosmetic salons and massage places… She would send money every two, three months to her mother,” Li added.
He said that ultimately, Feng’s dream was to be able to go back to China and open up her own beauty salon. She was ready to make the trip last year until the COVID-19 pandemic halted her plans.
Forced to stay in the U.S., she found work in Atlanta. She kept in touch with her family every day until her last.
When asked by the family why this happened, Li was unable to find the right words.
“I can’t come up with an answer so I just told them she was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
Though none claimed to know her, about a dozen people spoke up at her service.
“As survivors, we need to unite with all Asian Americans. We need to unite with all people of color here and all other Americans,” said attendee Yawei Liu. “We need to unite. We need to make our country better.”
Featured Image courtesy of the family of Daoyou Feng