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Sarah Camille Bennajma, age 29, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, passed away the day before her 30th birthday, after a devastating stroke and heart infection caused by a long battle with addiction. Born Nov. 4, 1991, in Washington, D.C., she was the cherished daughter of Jean Desiree Rowe and Khalid Bennajma. Sarah was born an artist; her unique artwork displayed in a Reston art gallery in high school, in the communities where she lived, and for professional concert promotions after high school. Sarah graduated from South Lakes High School in Reston; she was a member of the dance team, studied cosmetology and art. She was president of the Cosmetology Club. Prior to high school, Sarah attended Our Lady of Lourdes School, Richmond, where she loved to draw and paint, was a cheerleader, a member of the track and soccer teams, and loved twirling her batons in team competitions with The Florettes Majorettes. Sarah attended community college in Chesapeake, Virginia. She traveled extensively to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Sarah lived in Abu Dhabi for a year and managed a photography and video production company. Sarah loved her family deeply, wanted to adopt every animal she could, and counted the days until family beach vacations. Sarah was an amazing person with the biggest heart, the most beautiful smile, and offbeat sense of humor. For many years, Sarah fought a heroic battle with addiction and successfully completed drug rehab programs several times, but the fierce battle was more than she could overcome. Many loved ones did everything they could do, but addiction won after her 10-year plus struggle. To the people who do not understand addiction, she may be just another statistic that chose to make bad decisions which is an uneducated and most hurtful view. In Sarah’s memory, we ask that you donate your time to learn about this disease and/or make a financial donation to The McShin Foundation, Richmond, Va. If you are struggling with addiction, our family is praying for you. Please seek help as there is much joy and beauty in a sober world waiting for you to experience it.

Sarah was our first-born child, our beloved daughter, and made perfectly by God. Sarah was also a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a friend, a human being with an addiction. Everyone she spoke to would hang on her every word, jumping at the chance to be included among her friends. We wish she had recognized her own beauty, her unbridled talents, and the strength that everyone else saw in her. The reality of Sarah’s death is beyond devastating, but her struggle has ended. This amazingly talented young woman has finally found the peace she was so desperately searching for here on earth. The day Sarah died a part of us died with her. We will miss her every day for the rest of our lives. Our lives will never be the same, but we will always cherish the moments we had together. We will not soon forget Sarah’s Celebration of Life knowing that our angel has seen the face of God before us. There is no doubt Sarah is painting the sunrises and sunsets in the skies these days. Peace.

Sarah is survived by her mother and stepfather, Jean Desiree Rowe and Ali Razzaghi; father, Khalid Bennajma; sister and brother-in-law, Leilah and Carson Simkins; brother, Adam Bennajma, and maternal grandparents, Linwood and Sylvia Rowe.