By Ayub Abdallah
Majority of families in the informal settlements have been facing hard time when their loved ones passed on in urban areas due to lack of funds to ferry the body to upcountry for burial.
The funds hurdle made a good number of families to organize for funeral fundraisers and disco matangas in order to raise cash to carter for funeral expenses.
The fund raisings trend changed following the establishment of Shofco Urban Network (SUN) by the Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO).
SUN’s KES50, 000 for adults and KES30, 000 for children support has relieved funeral burden of hundreds of its members who are registered through numerous groups in various slums across Kenya.
Jorim Osodo Omollo narrated how SUN benevolent fund helped him offset funeral expenses for his mother who had died in his rural home.
He said when the sad news happened, he informed his group’s treasurer who then conveyed the information to the SUN leadership.
Osodo, 53, said he was asked to inform his rural area chief to write a letter that confirmed indeed his mother had passed on.
“Everything was sent to me after which I submitted them to the SUN office. After three days, the cheque was delivered to me and I took it directly to the bank to mature. The following day in the evening, I withdrew the money,” Osodo said.
Jorim Osodo said he utilised the money to buy a coffin, bought a cow for, pay for catering services and used the rest of the money for transport.
“The cash from Shofco helped me so much because I did not have any penny when my mother died. I’m very grateful to Shofco for their support,” he said.
Another beneficiary Taitus Ocholi said before the introduction of SUN benevolent fund, some of the Kibera residents were burying their loved ones at Lang’ata public cemetery. due to high cost of transporting the body from Nairobi to rural area.
But through SUN program, the families are now able to bury their loved ones decently in absence of fund raising or disco matanga.
“Our group has 16 members. We introduced merry-go-round and savings initiative to empower ourselves as Maono Self Help Group,” Acholi said.
Maryam Seif, who is one of the many SUN representative, said children of some of her group members are under Shofco scholarship program and four of them recently received compensation after the demise of their loved ones.
”Four members in our group were compensated. Two of them lost their husbands, one of our colleagues passed on and another member’s child died,” Maryam said.
She revealed that the majority of Muslim families that have received KES50,000 for compensation used the money to offset medical bills.
“A Muslim burial can cost less than KES10, 000. We do not have expenses for body transportation to rural area, coffin and morgue. Muslims are buried where they passed on the same day. So the burial expenses are normally less,” Maryam said.
SUN Sacco beneficiaries hailed Shofco founder Dr Kennedy Odede for introducing the compensation initiative which they said has salvaged SUN members from the distress of raising funds for funerals.