Losing a loved one is quite a painful and costly experience. This is even more costly for Kenyans living in the diaspora and fundraising is no longer tenable.
Kenyans living in the US can now breathe a sigh of relief as one creative mind has come up with a scheme that makes funeral arrangements for families residing in the US easier and cheaper. He is based in Los Angeles, California and his name is Dr. Aquillahs Muteti.
His journey began in Makueni County, where he was born. In time, he joined the University of Nairobi, Chiromo Campus, and in 1990, he graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics.
He was employed into various small businesses afterward where later he ventured into private businesses dealing in computers and automobiles. Later on, while at a conference in Atlanta, he got inspired on thinking big. He made an application and got admitted as a student. Eventually, after his newly found passion for teaching, he found himself in Los Angeles, California where he taught Math at a local high school.
Currently, he is an Assistant Principal in a middle school in California and also an adjunct professor. He lectures in two universities one of them being the National University, where he teaches the masters program for teachers.
However, while working, he could not help but notice the great difficulties that Kenyans in the American Diaspora faced when it came to the loss of loved ones who were domiciled both inside and outside the United States.
"A family could receive 3000$ from the welfare associations and then the question remains, 'Do they buy a ticket or send that money home despite them wanting to go back home and bury their loved one?'" With this in mind, Dr. Muteti founded Ukarimu in 2016, a corporation registered in the State of California that offers families bereavement support after they enroll as members.
''Death is inevitable and you may have insurance but US companies will not touch someone who is not in the US. However, Ukarimu does,'' he says.one joins Ukarimu by paying 414 dollars, a one-time enrollment fee, then pays 45 dollars a month if covering for a family of up to 10 members.
Any extra beyond 10, one pays an extra 2 dollars. For one to be a member, he has to be in the USA but his dependence can be from wherever as long as he/ she is a relative.
He explains that the major challenge is that people are yet to understand who they are. They still have to keep on explaining to many that they are not an insurance company and that Ukarimu has a lot of benefits to offer. Once a member, one has to wait for four months before accruing any benefits. Their enrollment period is twice a year i.e. from June 1st till July 31st and from December 1st till January 31st.
"In order to protect ourselves, we must have those limited set periods of time when only few members can join our organization," he goes further to explain. For you to register these members you have to give them their dates of birth, their ID number and their legal names as they appear in government documents then it allows Ukarimu 48 hours to actually verify that death and the relationships back in Nairobi.
Since its incorporation, Ukarimu has close to 500 members and has assisted about 25 families who have lost their loved ones. In just two years they have given out about Ksh. 20,000,000 to bereaved families, a statistic that Dr. Muteti is proud of.
"We are here to really make sure the Kenyan community is really in a good place as they continue growing here and as they continue supporting their families back home," he concludes.