One of the youngest victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash is nine-month-old Canadian Rubi Pauls, who was on the way to Kenya from Ontario to meet her grandfather for the first time for Easter.
The grandfather, Quindos Karanja, says Rubi’s 60-year-old grandmother, Ann Wangui Karanja, was also on the flight.
So was Rubi’s 34-year-old mother, Carolyne Karanja, Rubi’s seven-year-old brother Ryan, and her sister Kerri, who was four.
Rubi was the only Canadian citizen in the family.
Quindos Karanja said the family was on its way back to Kenya to see him.
Carolyne Karanja, a Kenyan, had applied to be a permanent resident in Canada. Ann Karanja travelled to Canada for a visit in August and was supposed to be there for three months but had extended her stay.
The Ethiopian Airlines plane went down moments after takeoff from Addis Ababa’s airport, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board, including 18 Canadians.
Quindos Karanja, a 60-year-old retired school teacher, was trying to come to terms with the shock of losing his family.
“We don’t know what next,” he said in a telephone interview from Kenya.
He remembered the last text exchange with his daughter Carolyne Karanja.
He recalled her saying she was excited to go back home, but had a bad feeling and was fearful.
“And she didn’t know why she had that bad feeling … that was my final talk with her,” said Karanja, adding that Carolyne Karanja was the breadwinner of the family.
The grandfather said he knows he has to be strong and accept reality, but he doesn’t know how to do that.
“It’s just hard to accept that this has happened. I feel so much loss. And pain. I’m lonely.”