A Des Moines, Iowa community has come together after Bazirake Kariya died in a car crash on Friday and left behind his five children. The local pastor, Eugene Kiruhura, has raised over $160K for the children, who are now orphaned.

According to reports, the children’s mother, Zabayo Bigirimana, died four months ago in childbirth. The five children are ages 4 months, 2, 6, 8, and 10. They are currently being taken care of by their grandparents, who can’t speak English and have no way to support the children.

“They’ve been crying all the time, saying ‘we lost mother. We lost father.’ It’s very, very hard to the kids,” said Kiruhura.

Bazirake Kariya died in a car crash on New Year's Eve. He left behind five children. The orphaned children are now being raised by their grandparents. (Credit: GoFundMe)
Bazirake Kariya died in a car crash on New Year’s Eve. He left behind five children. The orphaned children are now being raised by their grandparents. (Credit: GoFundMe)

The pastor originally started the GoFundMe page hoping that it would provide the family with a couple months of rent and funeral expenses. The original goal of $60,000 was quickly surpassed and the pastor became overwhelmed with the generosity of strangers. The goal was changed to $200,000 and so far, the page has over $160,000 worth of donations.

Pastor Eugene Kiruhura and his community hope that the money will help pay for rent, funeral costs and food for the children.

He said, “They will need a lot of things. They will need a car. They will go to school. They need to eat. They don’t have anyone who is working for them. By raising this money, it will help them for (the) long-term.”

According to Kiruhura, Bazirake Kariya and his family moved to America from the Democratic Republic of the Congo three years ago. They had only been living in Des Moines for two years before tragedy struck the family. The pastor had known them for a year and was compelled to share their story after the father passed away.

While the whole community is mourning the loss of the children’s parents, they have their faith to help them through the tragedy. The pastor said, “These kids will see their dad, their mom in Heaven. We never complain to God. He will take care of them.”

Police reports said that Bazirake Kariya died on New Year’s Eve while driving to his job at a pork processing plant. His car was found in a creek in Marshall County off of Iowa Highway 330. Police responded to the scene around 2:05 p.m.

Bazirake Kariya was pulled from his crashed vehicle and given first aid by first responders. The 30-year-old was taken to UnityPoint Health Marshalltown Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Officers believe that winter conditions caused the crash. According to reports, icy rain Friday afternoon caused the roads to be very slippery in some areas of Marshall County. Officers had to reply to over 20 other crashes that night. An investigation into Bazirake Kariya’s crash is still ongoing.

While the orphaned children’s futures seem bleak, the pastor is hopeful, especially after the generous donations they received. “I’m not fearing. I’m believing in God, that’s why I’m asking people, please, please help these kids,” Pastor Kiruhara pled, “Raise these kids, these kids, I know tomorrow they will be somebody. They will be helping others if they can get help from the community.”

Pastor Kiruhara immigrated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2007 and has developed a community of support for immigrants in the Des Moines area. His church, Shalom Covenant Church was started in 2014 and since its creation it has helped people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Rwanda, have a home away from home.

People who are more comfortable sending their donations for the children via check can send them to Shalom Covenant Church at 7605 Aurora Ave.