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Dad who lost family in air disaster thanks Bermuda with charity donations

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A former island resident who lost his wife, three children and mother-in-law in a plane crash disaster two years ago today has thanked Bermuda with a total of $446,000 in donations to island charities.

Massive donation: Henry Thomas, the chairman of Jumuiya Ya Afrika, flanked by trustees of the organisation, hands over a cheque for $223,000 to Debi Ray-Rivers of Scars (Photograph supplied)

Paul Njoroge, who worked at the Bank of Butterfield, teamed up with Jumuiya Ya Afrika, a charity set up to promote African culture and heritage in Bermuda, to organise the gift of $223,000 apiece to anti-child abuse organisation Saving Children, Revealing Secrets and Family Centre.

Massive donation: Henry Thomas, the chairman of Jumuiya Ya Afrika, flanked by trustees of the organisation, hands over a cheque for $223,000 to Sandy de Silva of Family Centre (Photograph supplied)

Mr Njoroge, originally from Kenya and who worked in Bermuda for nine years, said: “When I lost my family, there was an immediate outpouring of support to me, much from people I did not even know.

“Those messages of hope gave me strength. It is a sign of love and with that same spirit, in the name of my beloved departed family, I asked that this donation be made.”

Henry Thomas, the chairman of JYA, said Mr Njoroge asked the group for help to pick suitable recipients when he was given cash from the Boeing Community Investment Fund for good causes.

Mr Thomas added: “We are happy to announce that both Scars and the Family Centre met the criteria set out by BCIF and each has confirmed receipt of funds.

“These funds are donated in the name of Paul’s late family and Jumuiya Ya Afrika is honoured to have facilitated this donation and heartened that our brother Paul amid his tragedy wanted to help better the lives of children in Bermuda.”

Mr Njoroge’s wife Carol, 34, son Ryan, 7, and daughters Kelli, 4, and Rubi, seven months, as well as mother-in-law An Wangui Quindos Karanga, died when a Boeing 737 Max Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 from Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Kenya, crashed minutes after take-off on March 10, 2019.

None of the 157 passengers and crew on board the plane survived the crash.

Debi Ray-Rivers, the founder and executive director of Scars, said: “Scars was deeply moved by this substantial donation and we have personally expressed our sorrow to Mr Njoroge for his tragic and tremendous loss.

“We are overwhelmingly grateful to Jumuiya Ya Afrika for providing Scars with an opportunity to apply for this funding … this very generous financial gift will help us drive forward our goal of continuing our mission to be an advocate and a voice for children who have been sexually molested as well as their affected family.

“We at Scars consider this significant donation a blessing to the children of Bermuda and future generations of children.”

Sandy De Silva, the executive director of Family Centre, added: “We were so humbled by Mr Njoroge’s desire to to greatly assist others in need at a time of such terrible and unimaginable loss for him.

“This amazing gift will go a very long way in helping children and their families access our critical counselling services at no cost to them.”

Dr de Silva told Mr Njoroge: “This gift helps to make this work possible and, on behalf of every family in Bermuda that receives help due to this generosity, thank you.”

She added: “In particular, we are humbled by Paul Njoroge’s unimaginable journey over the last two years and we wish him well as we keep him in our thoughts and prayers.

“We thank him for being a superhero in the lives of children and families as he lives his purpose.”

Dr de Silva added Family Centre was grateful to Jumuiya Ya Afrika and the BCIF for organising the donation.

Mr Njoroge’s family had moved from Bermuda to Toronto and Mr Njoroge planned to join them later.

The family were on their way home to Kenya on a visit when they were killed.

Danielle Moore, a former summer student at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, was also among those who perished in the crash.

The 24-year-old from Toronto was one of 18 Canadians who died in the tragedy, which also claimed the lives of 32 Kenyans, eight US citizens and seven Britons.

The BCIF fund was set up in wake of the Ethiopian tragedy and the crash of a domestic Lion Air 737 Max flight from Jakarta, Indonesia to Pangkal Pinang in October 2018 which killed the 189 people on board.

The aircraft type was grounded in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash after it was found there were failures in the design of control mechanisms.

The 737 Max was cleared to fly again in November last year after modifications were made.

Boeing in January paid $2.5 billion to settle a US Justice Department criminal investigation and admitted that employees misled regulators about the safety of the 737 Max.

The company and the US government said that the settlement included money for the crash victims’ families, airline customers and a fine.

The BCIF was set up in the wake of the two disasters.

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Published March 10, 2021 at 3:24 pm (Updated March 10, 2021 at 3:24 pm)

Dad who lost family in air disaster thanks Bermuda with charity donations

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