New Kenyan family in Lowell hit by 4 deaths in one month
Mourners during prayers for the family of Dr. Joseph O. Rariwi of Lowell (seated on couch) who have lost 4 family members in a span of 2 weeks with the bodies of a brother and a sister stuck in the mortuary back in Kenya. The family is in dire need of burial funds.Pic by H.Maina/AjabuAfrica.com
By Harrison Maina, AjabuAfrica.com,Posted: APRIL 18, 2012
LOWELL, Mass.,_A Kenyan family that arrived in the USA recently and has not yet even settled down well has been hit with a tragedy not experienced before in the close knit community.
In barely a span of one month, the family of Dr. Joseph O. Rariwi has lost four members of their family, two of whom (a brother and a sister) are still stuck in mortuaries in Kenya for lack of sufficient funds to pay hospital bills and burial expenses.
A small group of shocked friends who have been helping the family find it’s footing in America have organized an urgent fund raiser to take place this Sunday, April 22 at the CCF church at 105 Princeton Blvd. in Lowell starting at 3pm in an effort to try and reduce the impact of the devastating developments on the family.
As is the case with many Kenyans in the Diaspora, Dr. Rariwi, a father of 4 has been the sole bread winner for this own family as well as his poverty struck brothers, sisters and cousins in the motherland, prior to relocating to the US early last year and after.
Dr. Rariwi, a brand new medical doctor who had just graduated from the Kenyatta university school of Health Sciences in December 2010 relocated to Boston with his wife and three children in January 2011.
A Kenyan family in Dracut offered the new immigrant family a place to live for the next 3 months as they went through the business of settling down and looking for a job which would support the family.
Speaking to AjabuAfirca.com at his house in Lowell, the doctor said that he was surprised that he would not get a job as a doctor in the USA until he had to go through a brand new series of rigorous testing before he would practice medicine in the USA despite the 6 years he spent in medical school at Kenyatta University.
But in a tight economy and 4 mouths to feed, Dr. Rariwi was more than thankful to land a direct care staff position with Co-Operative for Human services, a human services providing company in Boston.
With the new job, the doctor was now able to rent a small 2 family apartment for his own family and moved in 8 months ago, thankful that the Kenyan family in Dracut had helped him find his way in the maze of life in America.
Unfortunately, barely 8 months into the job, Dr. Rariwi received a devastating phone call from his brother in Kenya early April that his cousin had passed away and that the family needed funds for burial.
With little choice, the Doctor struggled to put some funds together and transferred to Kenya for the burial that took place on April 5.
A week later, another devastating phone call came in with news that Dr. Rariwi’s aunt had passed away, forcing the struggling doctor to send more funds home for the burial.
As if that was not enough for one man to handle, Doctor Rariwi received yet another call that his own brother had passed away on Wednesday last week ( April 11) after a short illness.
Getting worried at the bizarre series of tragedies, Dr. Rariwi held onto faith and struggled to put yet more funds together to send for the burial and hospital bills, borrowing from a few friends equally struggling with bills in the an economy recovering from recession.
“I was totally exhausted with the back to back deaths in our family. I have been supporting them for many years since I was the only lucky family member to have a job,” said Dr. Rariwi.
The late brother, Peter O. Rariwi is set to be laid to rest on April 28 at the family’s home in Rachuonyo District, Nyanza province in western Kenya.
However, as close friends who attend church with Dr. Rariwi at the Community Christian fellowship in Lowell were organizing for a small fundraiser to help with the 3rd burial funds problem, another new round of bad news hit the family.
The doctor’s elder sister, Fransisca Rariwi had died on the spot on Sunday April 15 in a road accident a few days after attending the burial of their aunt who was interred on Friday April 13.
According to Dr. Rariwi the late sister was riding on a “boda boda” motorbike (motorcycle public transport) with her last born daughter on her way to her matrimonial home when the motorbike was hit by another vehicle, killing both her and the rider on the spot.
He daughter escaped death narrowly with serious injuries after which she was hospitalized.
New reports indicated that the daughter had been discharged from the hospital and is recuperating at the family’s home.
The new death was the last straw for the doctor and close friends who were working on burial plans for the yet to be buried brother.
“Even before we had invited the community to help this family with burial funds when we realized he was struggling too much with the previous deaths, we received the devastating news of the sister’s death,” said Bishop David Karaya, one of the pastors at the CCF church.
“It was at this point that we decided we need to urgently speed up the funds drive effort as the situation has turned for the worse. We are pleading with the Kenyan community in Lowell, Dracut ,Nashua and everywhere else to turn out in large numbers for the funds drive on Sunday at the CCF church so we can help this family facing great tragedy,” he told AjabuAfrica.com during a prayer meeting at the family’s house on 167 Jewett street Apt 2 last night.
The fund raising effort is led and cordinated by a commitee of Kenyans from different churches in Lowell.
During the same prayer meeting, the family was encouraged to stay strong in faith by mourners who responded to their plight, asking them to rely on God at times like this.
“There is nothing as good as relying on God at all times even when tragedy like this happens,” said Dr. Rev. Charles Karanja of PEFA church in Malden during a brief sermon.
“Even Job had many things happen to him at the same time more than what has happened to our brother here who has been hit with four deaths. But Job refused to give up on God and was rewarded with relief and victory as a result,” he added while reading from the book of 1 Job: 15.
Dr. Karanja also urged Kenyans to pass by for prayers and support at the family’s house and attend the funds drive on Sunday to help the suffering members of the community.
“I had an almost similar tragedy several years ago when I lost two members of my family at the same time. Let us come and help them,” urged the cleric.
The funds drive at CCF will start at 3.00pm.
Well wishers can contact deposit funds at:
Jean D'Arc Credit Union
Joseph Rariwi Checking Act #: 9997592598
the family and burial committee organizers at: 167 Jewett Street,
Lowell, MA 01850.