Iowa Resource for International Service is deeply saddened to announce the death of one of our beloved Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study alumni. Elia Peter Homange died October 30, 2011 in Arusha from malaria and typhoid fever at the age of seventeen. As a part of the KL-YES program from 2009-2010, Elia was hosted by Marsha and Mark Witte from DeWitt, Iowa and attended Central Clinton High School.
In a poem Elia wrote, he described his loving host family as, “a perfect fit for me.” As a matter of fact, Elia fit right in everywhere he went. While many knew him for being quiet, his life was anything but. Elia made the most of his days in America by participating in basketball, cross-country and soccer. He volunteered regularly in his host community by educating others about Tanzania and the Maasai culture, working at the Fall Children’s Fair in DeWitt, packaging Thanksgiving meals for the less fortunate and visiting the local nursing home.
When Elia wasn’t volunteering and helping others around the community, he spent much of his time at his host family’s church where he was very popular with the youth group. Elia was also an excellent student, making the honor roll several times. His host mother, Marsha, said, “We are amazed at how much time he can spend poring over a physics textbook just for fun.” Elia even attended a few classes when it was no longer required. In his free time he enjoyed shooting baskets, helping around the house, and got the opportunity to attend school dances, a University of Iowa football game and boat on the Mississippi River.
We offer our sincere condolences to Elia’s family and many friends for the tragic loss of such a young and promising life. YES alumni students in Tanzania have traveled to offer their personal condolences to the family and messages from Central Clinton High School students and others are pouring in to Elia’s Facebook page. Elia Homange’s dedication to the community, desire to learn and compassion for others sets an example for not just KL-YES students, but the world. In his short time with us, Elia proved the importance of living each day like it’s your last.