WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- It was emotional, graceful, and at times gut-wrenching as friends and family said goodbye to Mike Wasike.
Wasike was the man brutally attacked and beaten by three teenagers in a 2013 carjacking. He died on Monday, and on Saturday friends and family said goodbye.
Those in attendance were moved to tears by the words of his widow Joan and his 17-year- old daughter Sandra.
“It's really, hard to be honest. I can live with myself, I can stand for myself, but I have an eight-year-old brother and he deserves the world," Sandra said. "He is eight and he lost his dad before he even got to know him. He was three when this happened, three and a half, and half the time he can't put two and two together of what his dad used to look like and I always have to remind him."
Sandra says it's now her responsibility to pass on the lessons her father would want her younger brother Melvin to learn.
“Dad would want me to remind you this every day: You are not only a little boy, you are a man on the inside, you are a proud Kenyan warrior, and don't you ever forget it,” she said.
The funeral also served as a fundraiser to transport Mike’s body back to Kenya to be laid to rest. Being buried alongside family is part of the Kenyan tradition.
“He deserves to go back to his home where he was born and be buried next to his father and have just that feeling of peace, because I know my Coco, my grandmother, cannot think to bear that her son is over 2,000 miles away on another continent, over an ocean, where she can’t see him. It's just not alright in our culture to be buried away from your family,” said Sandra.
Through the combination of a GoFundMe and private donations, the family is just $1,200 short of the $25,000 needed for the cost of transportation.
“It’s amazing to think that people are willing to give so much to people they barely know, that they have that much sympathy and empathy for us, and I really am grateful,” said Sandra.
While Sandra delivered a message of gratitude to those who have helped her family, she delivered this message to the three teenagers convicted of the carjacking.
“They killed my dad. I don't know how else to put it. I know they think they were just being reckless, but there is always a choice. And you chose to do that. You could have figured out another way, but you chose to harm my dad, and however you want to put it to have justice in your mind, you killed him. Live with that. And don't ever think there was another way around it because that's what you did...and rot in hell,” she said.
The $25,000 only covers the cost of air travel and transportation of Mike’s remains. Those at the Imani Family Church are asking for continued donations to aid the family in their trip to Kenya and the cost of the burial there. Click here to make a donation.