Thanks to a public appeal from their pastor, more than $150,000 in donations have already poured in to help five children in Des Moine, Iowa, who were made orphans after their Christian refugee father was killed in a car accident Friday, just four months after their mother died in childbirth.

Pastor Eugene Kiruhura of Shalom Covenant Church in Urbandale, revealed the tragedy in a GoFundMe campaign he launched on Sunday to help the orphans.

“It is with heavy hearts we are asking for your donations and prayers for the family of Bazirake Kayira. Bazirake was one of the African refugee/immigrant community members living in Des Moines, he died Friday afternoon after crashing his vehicle into a creek during the ice storm,” Kiruhura wrote.

“Four months ago Bazirake lost his wife during childbirth. He leaves behind five children. We are raising funds to help assist with his funeral expenses and any extra funds will go into an account reserved for the children. Keep these children in your prayers this is very sudden and extremely shocking for them to lose both parents like this in a short period of time,” he added.

Kayira, 30, moved to Des Moines with his family two years ago as refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. On Friday, according to the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, he was driving on Iowa Highway 330 in Marshall County at about 2:05 p.m. when his car veered off the road into a creek. The Des Moines Register said he was on his way to work at the JBS pork processing plant in Marshalltown.

Pastor Kiruhura told the Des Moines Register that when he launched the fundraising campaign to help the orphans, he set a goal of $60,000 to help with funeral expenses and start a fund to help support the children.

After an overwhelming response from the public, the fundraising goal was increased to $200,000.
Kayira was the only breadwinner for his family, according to a KCCI report. His sickly older adult parents are now caring for his children and they do not work.

“Grandma and grandpa, they can live together but they don’t work,” the pastor told KCCI during an earlier appeal.

“How are they going to pay the rent? Where are they going to live? What are they going to do? They don’t drive, who’s going to take them to appointments? … They don’t speak English,” he said. “Even the rent for this month, I don’t know how they’re going to get it.”

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