Parents’ plea for a memorial to tragic teenagers who drowned at Thorpe Marshes
- Credit: Archant
They have laid at rest for more than year without a proper memorial.
After inquests into the deaths of Norwich teenagers Bonheur Musungay and Stella Kambi drew to a close, their family has pleaded for help from the community in giving the tragic youngsters their gravestones.
Cousins Bonheur, who was 14 when he died, and Stella, who would have celebrated her 19th birthday on Monday, lie side by side on a cemetery plot on Yarmouth Road, marked with tiny wooden signs.
It is a stone's throw from the lake on Whitlingham Lane where the pair drowned on August 12 last year.
Concluding their deaths were accidental, the inquest this week heard how Stella had run fully clothed into the lake to rescue Bonheur, but both sank beneath the surface.
Around 600 people attended their joint funeral at St Luke's Church on Aylsham Road, paid for by the Norfolk Congolese Association.
Angele Kasampilo, Stella's mother, said it had been too painful to visit their graves until very recently. With the inquest providing some closure, the parents of both children want to place a permanent memorial for them.
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But facing cost estimates of more £1,500 they cannot afford to.
'We buried them together because they died together,' said Mrs Kasampilo. 'The big issue is the money. We need to build this for our children. It is about remembering them.
'If we leave it like it is there is almost no sign there is anyone there.
'I am under pressure now to do this. Since she went we have been busy with police coming and asking questions and we haven't been able to rest with the inquest coming up. We have been preparing to go to the coroner and we didn't know what she was going to say.
'Now that is finished we can start focusing on trying to recover.'
Bonheur's mother Flora Mawua and Stella's father Daniela Aketo have also asked for help in building a proper memorial at the grave.
'We are asking if there is any organisation who can help us,' said Mr Aketo. 'We are not in a position to afford the amount of money they ask.'
Mrs Kasampilo said she was proud of what her daughter had done attempting to rescue her cousin, adding 'I would have done the same.'
'She was like a mother to him in that moment,' she said. 'If you see your children in the fire you jump in without thinking about the risk. That's what she did. If I was there I would have done the same.
'Stella was a hero in what she did.'
A Just Giving page has now been set up for the family. Visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lesa-bales-1 to donate.
Can you help the family raise the money for gravestones for Bonheur and Stella? Email email@example.com