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Community works to fill void after father dies

Life for Simon Kumeso Makanda’s family took an unexpected turn for the worse after a July 6 car accident claimed his life.

After winning a United States visa in the lottery, Makanda, a business owner in the Congo, immigrated to the United States in order to “make a better life for his kids,” said First Assembly of God Pastor Lisa Deutsch.

The Makanda family has attended services at the church for about a year.

Deutsch helped oversee an effort toward raising funds necessary to pay for Makanda’s funeral, which was successful through a special offering.

According to an article published in the July 8 Des Moines Register, Makanda died from injuries sustained in a car accident on Highway 65 in Polk County, Iowa. A rear tire blew on Makanda’s minivan, causing the vehicle to cross the median and roll in the southbound lanes.

He is survived by his wife, Constantine Nsansi, and six children, ranging in ages from a few months old to 18 years. According to Deutsch, Constantine speaks limited English and is currently searching for a job in order to provide additional income for the family. The oldest son, Hardy Kumeso Makanda, does work in a part-time position.

“It’s a desperate situation,” Deutsch said. “Christ’s vision of the church is one body with many parts. When one hurts, the rest should try to help. They need help with no family here.”

People wishing to donate to the Makanda family may send money to the church and designate it for the family.

Aside from First Assembly of God Church, Joseph Kisabo, a family friend, has assisted the family in recent weeks.

Kisabo is also from Africa and met Makanda soon after the family arrived in the United States.

“I have become close with the family,” he said.

When Makanda became aware of Kisabo’s heart condition, Makanda called and visited Kisabo several times each day out of concern for his health.

“Simon was a nice friend. He became like my brother,” Kisabo said.

Now, Kisabo is providing transportation for the family, as well as emotional support.

“I do everything I can do. It’s my pleasure to help them,” he said.

Though the family has already received some aid, their needs still consist of a job for Constantine, transportation to her work, and childcare during her hours at work, Kisabo said.

“He was a really good man who took care of his family. He looked out for the future of his kids. His family misses him,” he said.

Hardy Kumeso Makanda, the eldest son of Makanda, has transformed into a leader in his family since his father’s untimely death.

“I didn’t expect it, but I have to,” Hardy said. “It’s made me more responsible.”

In addition to working a part-time job, Hardy also assists in the care of his five younger siblings, though he will be attending Jefferson City High School as a senior in the fall.

Hardy attributes dedication to his studies to the teachings of his father, with whom he was “very close,” he said. “He taught me to keep up in school. He was a good person, good with people.”

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