Dear friends and family,
First of all, thank you all so much for your love and support over the past few days. I can't explain how comforting it has been to receive kind words and thoughts from all of you as I've been so far from home during such a traumatic time.
As many of you may have heard or seen on Facebook, Ravi Ramrattan, a wonderful friend to many here in Nairobi, was killed in the senseless Westgate Mall terrorist attacks this past weekend. As a Trinidadian native, Ravi had no immediate family members in Kenya, which left the painful process of identifying and caring for his body up to his group of close friends and colleagues; in particular, his former roommate and my close friend, Sean Smith.
Over the past few days, Sean has borne the weight of an excruciatingly long list of responsibilities that no friend should ever have to bear. These included communicating the news to Ravi’s family and (very long list of) friends, taking custody of Ravi’s body and organizing a funeral home viewing to provide his friends a chance to say goodbye, sorting through Ravi’s belongings, and generally acting as the face of strength and courage during this difficult time. Sean has handled himself with a grace that I never would have imagined possible, leading Ravi’s sister, Rishma, to post the following beautiful comment on Sean’s Facebook wall:
“Thank you for everything you have done for our brother…and I mean OUR brother…a friend does not do what you have done for Ravi…a brother does that. Our family appreciates everything. You are amazing. I’m so glad to know that he had you in his life…You have ensured he is being taken care of when he could no longer do it for himself…You’ve lost a friend, but you’ve gained a family…our family...Thank you and thank goodness you have had the strength to do what you have done.”
As the preparations began for sending Ravi home, we thought there would be money available from Ravi’s employer to send two people back to Trinidad – one official representative from the organization and one unofficial representative from Ravi’s network here. A unanimous vote amongst Ravi’s closest friends said that Sean should absolutely be the one to accompany Ravi home and represent the love he had here in Nairobi. I think it’s clear from Rishma’s post that Sean’s presence would mean a great deal to Ravi’s family as well. Unfortunately, only one plane ticket is actually available, and given that a flight to Trinidad, especially on such short notice, is going to be upwards of $4,000, Sean has sadly had to accept that he won’t be able to go.
We’ve proposed the idea of fundraising amongst our community here to send Sean, and many people have proactively offered to contribute, but Sean has explicitly refused to accept donations for a plane ticket. Ravi had been saving money to help his parents fund his sister’s college education, and Sean is adamant that any funds raised by Ravi's friends be donated to the family to help them pay for Ravi’s funeral services and Rishma’s education.
It is for this reason that I am seeking your support. I recognize that you don't know Ravi or Sean, but I can't express the impact that Sean has had on me. Over the course of the past seven months, Sean has become an amazing friend. From picking me up at the airport at midnight the very first day I arrived in Kenya, teaching me how to rock climb, introducing me to his entire network of friends and colleagues in Nairobi, teaching me how to analyze business models, to not disowning me in night clubs, despite my horrendous dance moves...Sean has honestly been the most influential force in helping to make Nairobi feel like home for me.
Any support you could provide in helping us get him to Trinidad to get the closure he deserves, would be so greatly appreciated. Additional funds collected beyond the cost of the ticket, will be donated to the family.
If you've made it this far, thank you for reading and thank you for your consideration and support. I miss you all incredibly right now and hope that all is well (and slightly happier) back in the States!
Additionally, if you would like to support the broader Nairobi community in their efforts to re-build, you can donate to the Kenya Red Cross here: https://www.kenyaredcross.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=82