Two years ago, Paul Njoroge’s world came crashing down around him as he lost 5 family members on the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. The Kenyan banker based in Bermuda lost his wife Caroline Karanja, 7-year-old son Ryan Njoroge Njuguna, 4-year-old daughter Kerry Paul Wanjiku Njuguna, 7-month-old daughter Rubi Wangui Njuguna, and his mother-in-law Ann Wangui Karanja.
He was among individuals who provided testimony before the U.S House Subcommittee on Aviation in 2019, calling for improved oversight and aviation safety procedures. Njoroge marked two years since the crash on March 10 with a heartwarming gesture – donating over $440,000 (Ksh48 million) to charities in Bermuda as his way of repaying the outpouring of support he received from Bermudians after losing his family.
Bermudian news outlets highlighted the donation – with the Royal Gazette splashing it on its front page.
“When I lost my family, there was an immediate outpouring of support to me, much from people I did not even know,” Njoroge stated.
“(This donation is made) with that same spirit, in the name of my beloved departed family,” he noted.
Jumuiya ya Afrika, an non-profit started by the African community in Bermuda, chanelled the donation to local charities SCARS [Saving Children and Revealing Secrets] and the Family Centre.
“We are humbled by Paul Njoroge’s unimaginable journey over the last two years and wish him well as we keep him in our thoughts and prayers. We thank him for being a ‘Super Hero’ in the lives of children and families as he lives his purpose,” noted Dr. Sandy De Silva the Executive Director of the Family Centre.
Njoroge had previously revealed how he bought tickets for his wife, children and mother-in-law who were to travel from Toronto to Nairobi. He expected to join them later to visit family.
He tracked the flight until 1 a.m. ET, when they landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to transfer on to a Nairobi-bound connection. Njoroge then went to bed.
“When I woke up Sunday, the first thing I saw was a Bloomberg alert that Flight 302 had crashed. I knew that was the flight I had booked.
“It broke my heart. I lost all my strength. My world went silent,” he stated.
The banker who used to work at Butterfield Wealth Management spent nine years living in Bermuda and has close ties to the nation where some of his children grew up.
The U.S House Committee investigating the crash found that 737-Max manufacturer Boeing was at fault for “repeated and serious failures”. It identified design flaws, and accused Boeing of prioritizing profit over safety.
The firm was further accused of withholding critical information from pilots thus putting the lives of passengers in danger.
“I have nightmares about how they must have clung to their mother, crying, seeing the fright in her eyes as they sat there helplessly. And there was nothing I could do to save them. My mom in law sat beside them with tickets I had purchased for them that was to be a trip of a lifetime.
“I paid for plane tickets that was to be a safe flight. I did not know all of the information of which Boeing knew about how dangerous that plane was yet the corporation allowed 157 people to board that dangerous plane that could not land safely. I never knew it would be the last time I would ever see them,” Njoroge told the committee.