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Help me find their bodies: Father who lost family in Mai Mahiu tragedy begs gov’t

In the aftermath of the flash floods in Mai Mahiu which killed 62 people in April, one man is in anguish and it is taking a toll on him.

Mr Alex Nganga’s world was torn apart on April 29 when his wife, Patricia Wanjiku, and their two children, Ruth Wangare, 13, and Ann Trizer Nganga, 5, were swept away at their home in Ruiru village.

Ruth was a junior secondary school student at Ngeya Primary School, while Trizer was in Grade One at a private school in Mai Mahiu town. While his wife’s body was found and buried two weeks after the incident, Nganga’s two children are still missing to date. The tragedy struck suddenly, catching residents of Mai Mahiu off guard. In an instant, homes were destroyed, families torn apart, and dreams shattered.

As the community mourned the loss of 62 lives, Mr Nganga embarked on a lonely journey to find closure.

For him, the loss of his two children in the tragedy was a blow from which he is yet to recover. The weeks that followed were marked by sleepless nights and endless days spent searching hospitals and morgues, clinging to the slightest glimmer of hope.

He said that the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and National Youth Service (NYS), who were dispatched to help in the search, combed through the debris and waded through the mud in search of any sign of his two children.

But despite their efforts, neither the government nor Mr Nganga’s search have yielded results, with each dead end serving as a painful reminder of the loss and the uncertainty of his children’s fate.

“I plead with the government to help me find their bodies so that I can give them a befitting send off and have peace of mind. I barely sleep at night. Before the incident, I had a beautiful family. Now, I am a loner depending on people for survival,” he told the Nation in an interview. Before misfortune struck, Nganga was a businessman in Mai Mahiu. He said that he led a simple but fulfilling life, as he was able to provide for his wife and their two children. But fate had a cruel twist in store. Recalling the incident, he said that after having dinner they all retired to bed. The children slept in their room, only to be woken up by a loud bang at dawn. Mr Nganga said that he tried to save his family but was overwhelmed by the raging waters.

That was the last time he saw them alive. He said events unfolded so fast, leaving no time for Mr Nganga to comprehend the magnitude of the disaster.

He was rescued by his neighbours and rushed to the hospital. His wife’s body was retrieved two kilometres from their home. But Ruth and Trizer were nowhere to be found.

“I was lucky that I was saved. I really tried, but it was not enough. I saw them being swept away and I could not do anything to help. My wife was buried two weeks after the incident. What remains is finding my children. I have been left with only memories,” said Mr Nganga, a resident of Ruiru.

Describing his wife of 15 years, Mr Nganga he said that she was hardworking, disciplined, and a homemaker who ensured that their family and business were running smoothly.

“She was a good woman with a vision. She pushed me to work hard. We bought a piece of land and built a six-bedroom house, but it was all brought down. Our motorbike was swept away. We were running our fruit business together. She loved going to Church and prayed for us daily. I miss her,” he said, amid tears.

The once vibrant spirit in Mr Nganga has now been replaced by a hollow emptiness that grows with each passing day.

Yet, even in the depths of his despair, he refuses to give up on his children.

Mr Nganga has found solace in the support from friends, the community, the Church, and even strangers. Together, they have formed a network of resilience, united in their determination to rebuild their shattered lives. But despite their best efforts, the harsh reality of their situation remains unchanged.

He still believes his two children will be found but until then, he chooses to carry their memory in his heart, a reminder of the profound bond between a father and his children. For Mr David Kamau, he is lucky to be alive.

His wife Ann Mumbi, 27, perished, while his two children survived as they had visited their grandmother at the time of the incident. Ms Mumbi’s body was found 23 days later, two kilometres from their home.

She was buried last week on Saturday, June 1, in Mai Mahiu.

“We share the same tribulation with Mr Nganga. I lost my wife whom I loved so much. It took time for her body to be found. Even if I am still grieving, I always try to be there for Mr Nganga. He is really stressed,” he said.

Naivasha police boss Stephen Kirui told the Nation that the search was called off two weeks ago after the KDF and NYS personnel completed construction of damaged roads in the areas affected by the floods. “Three people are still missing, according to our records. We are still coordinating search efforts to try and trace them,” Mr Kirui said.

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