Memorials will be built in honour of tragic teenagers who drowned at Thorpe Marshes
- Credit: Archant
Memorials will finally be built to honour two teenagers who lost their lives at Thorpe Marshes more than a year after their deaths after a successful appeal.
Stella Kambi, 17, tried in vain to rescue her cousin, Bonheur Musungay, 14, from the Whitlingham lake after he got into difficulty in the water on August 12 last year.
She was unable to drag him free, and both tragically drowned.
Their families had not been able to afford gravestones for burial plots where the pair lie buried side by side at a cemetery on Yarmouth Road, until the community rallied on their behalf.
Lesa Bales set up a fund-raising page after feeling 'devastated' upon hearing of the deaths last year. 'When I read that the children were literally lying in unmarked graves, I was so upset and I felt I needed to do something,' she said. 'No family should ever have to bury their child, it's not something you ever think you will have to do. 'As a mother myself, I cannot imagine the pain.'
The appeal has now raised more than £2,000 from an original target of £1,500, and the gravestones will be crafted by apprentices at Gildencraft Stonemasonry in Norwich, at cost price.
'The generosity of the community of Norwich and Norfolk has overwhelmed me and this has been a truly emotional and humbling experience for me,' added Mrs Bales, 49. 'The stones will be hand carved which means they will be very personal and bespoke pieces. Should there be any residual funds, we will of course ensure these are donated to an appropriate charity so the remaining money can maybe help other families in a similar position.
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'I hope that once the stones are in place, this will bring the families some comfort and this is all I hoped and wished for.'
Angele Kasampilo, Stella's mother, said she wanted to thank everyone who donated.
'These are people who do not know us, and they have done so much for us,' she said. 'If we had left it the way it is now there would be no memorial for us. Now this can be something for everyone who was affected by what happened. It is not just for us but the whole community of Norwich. It should be a memorial for everyone.'
Funds have come in from a variety of donors including a student at Sewell Park Academy, where Bonheur attended school, who asked for proceeds from a trade fair last year to go to the family with a total of around £80 raised.
Colin Howey, clerk at Gildencraft Stonemasonry, said the work will be done: 'We wanted to help because it was a terrible tragedy, but this is something that can be positive to come out of it and benefit young people. Our apprentices will be able to improve their skills by the making of this, and the involvement of young people making something to commemorate the loss is quite fitting. 'I have an awareness of what the Congolese community have been through before they even got here. Their journey has been particularly painful and so we wanted to do what we could.'