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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.

Family and friends escort the remains of Ms Sharon Jepkogei Kigen to her final resting place at her parents home in Kimuchi village, Moiben, Uasin Gishu County on Tuesday March 14, 2023.

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.

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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.

The burial service of Ms Sharon Jepkosgei Kigen, the 28 year old student who drowned in an Australian river on February 21. She was laid to rest at her parents’ home in Kimuchi, Moiben, Uasin Gishu county on Tuesday March 14, 2023.

They included Kenyans living in Australia, who recalled her last moments.

Sharon Jepkosgei’s parents Francis Kigen and Rael Chepkemboi and other family members collecting her body at Eldoret Hospital mortuary on Tuesday morning ahead of her burial at the family home in Kimuchi village, Moiben sub-county, Uasin Gishu county.

“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.

Family and relatives of Sharon Jepkosgei Kigen collecting her body at Eldoret Hospital mortuary on Tuesday morning ahead of her burial. Sharon drowned in an Australian river on February 21 while swimming with her friends. She had been in the country for exactly three months. 

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.

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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.

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