Shalom Covenant Church Senior Pastor Eugene Kiruhura was able to raise $232,223 in three days for five children from Des Moine, Iowa who were orphaned after their mother died in childbirth four months ago and their father died in a car accident on Friday, December 31.
The Christian Post said donations poured in after Kiruhura made a public appeal for the children, whose ages range from 4 months to ten years and who are refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The children's father, 30-year-old Bazirake Kariya, moved them and their mother, Zabayo Bigirmaya, to Des Moines two years ago.
"Dear friends I am going to ask you for help of prayer and financial support. This kids her mom, Zabayo Bigirmaya, passed away 4 months ago after giving birth of premature baby. Yesterday, December 31st , 2021 father passed away too from car accident. They left 5 kids behind. It's sad news to lost both your parents in 4 months. Please pray for them and support them financially, if you could, will go to funeral cost and raising this kids. Please email me or text me if could help," Kiruhura said on Saturday.
According to the Des Moines Register, Kayira was driving last Friday afternoon at Iowa Highway 330 in Marshal County on his way to work when he fell into a creek after veering off the road. Kayira, his family's breadwinner, is said to be working in Marshalltown's JBS pork processing plant. The highway is said to be slippery since freezing rain has covered the roadway with ice.
The children are now being cared for by their grandparents, one of which is sick and both are jobless. Kiruhura said in an interview with KCCI that neither grandparents have food or a place to live.
"Grandma and grandpa, they can live together but they don't work," Kiruhura revealed.
"How are they going to pay the rent? Where are they going to live? What are they going to do? They don't drive, who's going to take them to appointments?...They don't speak English. Even the rent for this month, I don't know how they're going to get it," he added.
Kiruhura, who've known the family for a year, created a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising $60,000 for Kayira's funeral expenses and to help support the children. But the overwhelming public response to the fundraiser prompted him to raise it to $200,000.
Overwhelmed by the support, Kiruhura updated the fundraiser on Monday expressing gratitude to all those who have donated so far, which the account says come from 2,893 people with the biggest donor sending $5,000. The $232,223 amount excludes donations being sent outside of the online fundraiser as donors have contacted the pastor via email and there are those who also sent in checks addressed to Shalom Covenant Church.
"We are overwhelmed by the support from the community. We thank all donors who continue to support this cause. The money you give will be put towards funeral expenses, basic needs for the five children, and a safe home so they can still leave safe together with their grandparents. Please continue to share and support this cause. God bless you all," Kiruhura said.