In the last two years, many Kenyans residing in USA have passed on and thereafter resulting to social media whatsapp to be constantly full of appeals from families affected while appealing for assistance to facilitate Burial arrangements costs.
Many Kenyans have not yet entirely delinked their home traditions and in most cases, bodies have to be transported all the way back to Kenya.
In case where a family member dies and the entire family lives in America, they have to escort the body back home and the cost can be so high at times if all affected have to accompany the deceased.
The cost of temporary mortuary fees and airfreight ranges between $12,500 to $13, 500 and when you add up individual fares, an entire family will end up spending over $40,000.
There are cases when a family decides to bury their loved ones in American public cemeteries due to consideration of children born and raised in America. Those are the Kenyan generation who have little or no relevance to Kenya at all and would outright prefer to be laying the yearly wreath to their loved ones without travelling far.
In such cases, the burden is not as high and the cost involved ranges between $8,000 to $15,500 depending on the State one resides in.
The Kenyan Parents in USA has been concerned about the spate of the many deaths occurring and has been publishing articles in their blog to raise awareness to some causes that are at times avoidable.
Suicide and drug abuse including alcohol, has been the main concern, and the articles are aimed at educating Kenyans the dangers of the same and how it can be minimized.
Reverend Wambui Njoroge has from time to time been writing articles on depression, drug abuse and alcohol awareness by using face two face events and teleconferences but only a few show interest. That is the reason we bury the deceased quickly and in most cases no investigation are done due to the stigma and simply because the family is already aware of the cause of death. We don’t open up as a community as we get ashamed to tell the truth.
She continues to say that we are like an Ostrich hiding it’s head when there is fire…Families are ashamed and vulnerable and choose to live with it due to some unknown fear.
Anything we have tried to hide happening behind, closed doors is all of a sudden concealed. Alcohol, Drugs, Depression, Failure, Pressures, Trouble with the Law…0ur Young Adults have become casualties of a mental warfare and families are now victims.
We need to wake up from our slumber. It is so real it is happening and it is stiff scary.
Most of the Young College & Career Adults have family here…suicide and premature deaths are most rampant between the ages 19-36 years.
WHY IS THIS?
According to Bishop Dr. Pinney Muthee who looks at the problem on a religious perspective, ..reasons that the youth who mostly are the drug abusers will blame anyone in their sphere of influence as the reason why they abuse alcohol or another substance to avoid personal responsibility.
They have tremendous sense of guilt and shame about their behavior making it painful to face their responsibility. This may lead to emotional and physical isolation keeping themselves from seeking the help they so badly need.
They also tend to rationalize the use of the substance by convincing themselves that they can handle the problem or they don’t see it as a problem. Like saying, “Don’t worry about it. I got it under control.”
They continue like that unnoticed and in most cases where parents are in Kenya, may never know what became of their sons or daughters and by the time they find out that they are into bad habits, it’s sometimes too late to reverse the situation. They watch helplessly as their once vibrant son or daughter wither away after modern medicine fails to cure their self inflicted habit.
Those are the Kenyans that will finally end homeless and to later seek solace in the street, after they join the hardcore experienced drug pushers and users but they may not even last long.
The above is not the only cause of many deaths in the Diaspora according to D.K. Gitau as others are work related.
Many people overwork themselves and you find that a majority are working 2 to 3 jobs and after pushing the body to the limit, they get depressed leading to a weak body that cannot control simple ailments.
That is the same category that suddenly collapse due to fatigue and by the time help arrive, it’s too late at times to save them.
America is a place where people don’t socialize much like home and thus making many people, to conceal their problems without disclosing to close friends or even neighbors.
Many are also still tied in the past and have not de-linked their earlier lifestyle that haunts many. You will find people that were very successful back home and when they immigrate, they will develop some form of mild depression that get worse with time. “The do you know when I was in Kenya I was a Doctor” lot are many and continue suffering due to a past they cannot revert to since their children have already adopted to the easy American lifestyle.
HOW CAN WE AS A KENYAN COMMUNITY RAISE EFFECTIVE AWARENESS
We can only advice those in the Diaspora to associate themselves with social groups and to be attending churches and seminars that are organized to raise awareness of the dangers of drug abuse and alcohol.
Kenyan Parents in USA organization is constantly raising awareness of the many occurrences of suicide which are preventable if detected early enough but not many bother to even read articles.
THE BIG PROBLEM AHEAD
There is a likelyhood of people not getting much concerned as the Harambee spirit will not always work especially to people that don’t mix with the community and therefore, something must be done before it’s too late. Many are overburdened by the many donations circulating and in absence of insurance there lies a big problem ahead.
In most of the cases of deaths, majority are the care free ones that do not associate or even participate in donation causes and when their cases are highlighted in the social media, not much is raised at times and thus leading to delays. Some Kenyan churches also discriminate (God forbid) if one happen not to be a member of a certain church and when pressed constantly, will only do it reluctantly.
Kenyan Parents In USA has a vision of buying land in major Cities which they can apply for Zoning to make them cemeteries in order to reduce the costly body transportation costs all the way to Kenya. The same will also drastically reduce the costly American public cemeteries( to almost nothing) as only a small fee for maintenance will be charged. It may also reassure families of the respect accorded to their loved ones and a feeling of no isolation like those buried in public American cemeteries together with people from different cultures. The vision however is only possible if Kenyans come to terms with the worrying trend, and willingly donate to the worthy cause. (If willing to donate call 4049668550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
We can simply build a small fully equipped mortuary and a tiny chapel and then have drastically reduced burial sites affordable to those that cannot afford to transport their loved ones back home. We have our own Kenyan churches but lack our own cemeteries to lay our loved ones as per traditions to forever avoid the American strange ways of using tractors to fill the grave with soil. We are used to the shovel or bare hands at times.
We also intend to start a Benevolence fund for members through our welfare sister organization C.O.D.U. that will be an investment kind of project to also generate income.
We can reduce the many deaths due to suicide and drug abuse but the effort will only be possible if Kenyans in the Diaspora themselves make a point of attending without fail, functions that are organized to raise the awareness mentioned initially.
It may be hard though to curb the many death occurrences in the Diaspora, but we are optimistic that we can at least reduce the many cases, if we all join hands and say:
NO TO: SUICIDE, WORKING 3 JOBS, DRUGS, ALCOHOL, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND LASTLY AND NOT LEAST, NOT TO ENGAGE OURSELVES WITH EXPENSIVE LIFESTYLES THAT ONLY GIVE STRESS WHEN OTHER CHEAPER ALTERNATIVES EXIST.
KENYAN PARENTS IN USA
BOARD AND FOUNDER MEMBER C.O.D.U.