Finland asks Kisumu family to pick bodies of relatives in two weeks or forfeit them

Catherine Anyango and her daughter Michelle.

Photo credit: Pool.

Still reeling from the shock of losing two relatives under mysterious circumstances in a foreign land, a family in Kisumu is now faced with the painful possibility of abandoning the bodies due to the country’s policy of burying unclaimed bodies in 30 days.

The family is now appealing to well-wishers to help them take the bodies of Catherine Anyango, 43, and her daughter Michelle, 25, from Finland, back home for burial.

The two were found dead inside their van at the main parking lot of a resort town in Finland on January 9. 

Anyango’s mother, Ms Roselyn Aketch, said the family has not been able to raise enough funds for the burials.

Ms Aketch said the family has been advised to pick the bodies within 30 days or risk having them buried by the Finnish government. 

“We have been running around to meet the deadlines since the deaths were reported … we only have 17 days left, yet none of us has been able to secure even a visa,” said Ms Aketch. 

She said the total amount required for three close relatives to travel to Finland and bring back the bodies, and pay mortuary fees and other requirements, is Sh4.6 million. 

Processing visas

The family was planning to travel to Nairobi to begin processing visas, but is yet to raise the Sh29,100 required for the three family members. 

“We have been in the dark since the deaths were reported. Nobody has tried to reach out to us in any way. Our biggest fear is having our relatives laid to rest in a foreign land in our absence,” said Ms Aketch. 

“Our other option is to travel to Finland and witness the burial of the two, but we will still need at least Sh2.6 million for the expenses of the three family members, including myself, who are listed as my late daughter's next of kin,” said the mother.

Ms Aketch said her daughter Anyango had been the family’s breadwinner and has four other children who are now orphaned. 
Anyango and her 25-year-old daughter, Michelle, reportedly went to work in Nilsi, where they had a samosa stand, but did not return home. 

Anyango, who was to graduate from a nursing school before the end of the year, ran a part-time catering business on weekends. She moved to Finland in search of greener pastures in 2008, after her husband died. 

“We had been trying to reach her from February 3, but the calls went unanswered. One of her sisters later contacted the police, before their bodies were discovered lying side by side in their van,” said Ms Aketch. 

The family last saw Anyango and Michelle in October 2022 when they were in Kenya to renew their passports. Mother and daughter travelled back to Finland in early November.