PHOTOS: ‘You never bid us farewell’- Kenyan student who drowned in Australia buried
By Wanja Waweru
“You never bid us farewell,” Ms Rael Chepkemboi, Sharon Jepkosgei Kigen’s mother mourned her, shortly before she was buried at her parents’ home in Moiben, Uasin Gishu County on Tuesday.
The mourners in Kimuchi village were in a somber mood as they paid glowing homage to the Kenyan student who drowned last month while swimming with friends in an Australian river.
On February 21, precisely three months after arriving in the foreign country, she passed away suddenly, just two days before beginning her studies at the Australian Catholic University in North Sydney, where she had been awarded a scholarship.
Her family and neighbors gathered in Kimuchi for a thanksgiving mass and party on November 21, the day before she departed for Australia.
After completing her two years of graduate-level ICT coursework in North Sydney, she intended to go back home and start a company. She had pledged to raise
But that was never going to happen because she would return sooner, in a spotless white casket, her aspirations dashed by the River tragedy. Georges MacquarSharon, 28, had already finished orientation and was scheduled to begin her courses at the university on February 23.
On Sunday, March 12, her body came from Australia at the Eldoret International Airport, where it was welcomed by her loved ones. The family collected it early on Tuesday morning from the morgue at Eldoret Hospital in preparation for the burial later that day at her parents’ house.
Hundreds of mourners went to Kimuchi village to give her a befitting send-off. Her family, close relatives, and friends described Sharon as humble and hardworking.
They included Kenyans living in Australia, who recalled her last moments.
“We were close and walked together to work. On that day at noon, I called her and said she was okay and promised that we would meet in the evening but she didn’t make it. We feel sorry for the family,” said Ms Verah Magut, a resident of Sydney.
Six students from Kimuchi village are overseas, and Sharon was among the three who got a chance to study in Australia. Another batch of 10 students is expected to leave the village soon for studies abroad, said a neighbour.
“I will always remember her. Whenever I had challenges with my phone, she would assist me. She was humble and dependable,” said Steve, a neighbour.
Efforts by Australians to save the Kenyatta University and Kapsabet Girls alumnus after she drowned were futile. Her body was retrieved from the water by emergency services officers who were called to the scene following the tragedy.