Surrey’s Tamil community raises $25K to send remains of killed student home to India

Esther Sitha Anthony Raj Achari died after being hit by truck in Richmond in December

SURREY — Thanks to fundraising efforts of the Tamil community in Surrey and Metro Vancouver, the remains of an international student killed in a December crash have been sent home to India.

Esther Sitha Anthony Raj Achari, a student of Omni College, was struck by a Canada Post truck in Richmond on Dec. 27. She died in hospital the next day.

Almost immediately, the Tamil community created two GoFundMe pages and raised $24,295 to send Achari’s body to India to be cremated there.

Esther Sitha Anthony Raj Achari. (Photo submitted)

Surrey’s Sathiyabama Rajaratnam is a family friend.

“She came here for a future with so many hopes but she is going back to her family in a box,” Rajaratnam said.

Rajaratnam’s son, Shathesh Kuhendrerajah, said when Achari’s family in India were notified, they initially thought it was a cruel joke.

“They got the phone call and couldn’t understand what the person was saying,” Kuhendrerajah said.“They got in touch with my mother and asked her to find out what happened to Esther.”

Achari lived in Richmond but visited Surrey often to take part in church services at Elim Worship Church.

Her brother, Williamdavid Anthonyraj Achari said the family has broken down to pieces.

“They took a lot of loans to send her and sold lots of properties to send her,” Williamdavid said.

Williamdavid is currently in India to receive his sister’s remains. The family had a funeral services for Achari on Jan, 9, at Sewri Christian Cemetery in Mumbai, India.

According to 2016 census, there are 790 people who speak Tamil in Surrey and more than 3,500 people in Metro Vancouver. Seventy-four million people in the world speak Tamil, most of them in the southern parts of India and northern parts of Sri Lanka.

Nearly 200,000 people speak Tamil in Canada, with an estimated 10 per cent of them living in B.C.

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