killed in Lebanon: Kenyan woman’s body returns home for burial

The body of Ms. Christine Kemunto Getanda, a 30-year-old Kenyan woman who tragically met her end in Lebanon in August 2023, is finally set to arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Wednesday, October 4, 2023. Over the past two months, Ms. Kemunto’s family and friends tirelessly worked to ensure her remains were repatriated to Kenya for a proper farewell.

Cynthia Kwamboka, Ms. Kemunto’s daughter, expressed her relief and gratitude, saying, “At last, the body of my mother will arrive in Kenya. Our hearts are now settled, and I really thank everyone who assisted us until it arrived,” in an interview with Nairobi News.

The circumstances surrounding Ms. Kemunto’s demise were shrouded in mystery. Initially, reports indicated that she had been struck by a motor vehicle on August 23, 2023. However, her family later received information suggesting she had been attacked with a metal object. She was pronounced dead at Abou Jaoude Hospital, with the cause of death listed as brain hemorrhage cardiopulmonary arrest.

The hospital, where her body had been since her passing, granted authorization for her remains to be transported back to Kenya.

This tragic incident left Ms. Kemunto’s four children orphaned, as they had already lost their father in 2018. Kwamboka recounted the heartbreaking moment she received the news of her mother’s passing in Lebanon. In disbelief, she contacted her aunties in Lebanon, who confirmed the tragic news. “I did not believe what I had been told, and I started reaching out to my aunties in Lebanon, who confirmed the news that my mother had died. That is when I decided to reach out to my other relatives in Kenya,” Ms. Kemunto said.

Struggling with limited financial resources, the family reached out to friends and relatives for support to repatriate her body to Kenya. Ms. Kwamboka shared, “We do not have any cash; the money we collected in the first round from the church boosted us, and we built a house,” in an effort to illustrate their financial hardships.

When they were informed that Ms. Kemunto’s body would finally be returning to Kenya, they sought assistance from Haki Afrika, an organization known for its commitment to human rights and social justice. Accompanied by her friend, Ms. Ruth Kwamboka, they visited Haki Afrika offices on Monday, October 2, 2023, seeking help. They interacted with officials, reached out to friends and relatives, and garnered support to repatriate Ms. Kemunto’s body.

In collaboration with Kitutu Chache South MP Anthony Kibagendi, Haki Afrika extended their support to ensure that the family could bid their beloved kin a dignified farewell. When Nairobi News contacted Mr. Kibagendi, the area MP representing the family’s region, he expressed his commitment to ensuring the body arrives in Kenya and is taken to Kisii County, where Ms. Kemunto will be laid to rest. He also raised concerns about the fate of Kenyan citizens working in Lebanon.

Mr. Mohamed Khalid, the head of Haki Afrika, explained that their decision to assist the family was driven by their recognition of the family’s urgent need.

The arrival of Ms. Kemunto’s body in Kenya marks a somber conclusion to a challenging period for her family and friends. It also serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by Kenyan citizens working abroad.