Joshua was born in Zambia in June of 1988 to devoted parents, Mary and Henry Mutafya. Devout Christians, Mary and Henry named their son after the biblical figure who succeeded Moses and was chosen to lead the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land. It is said that, in Hebrew, Joshua means: Jehovah is generous. Undoubtedly, Joshua lived up to his namesake. At the tender age of 5, he consciously chose to follow the Christian path exemplified by his parents. From boyhood through to adulthood, it became Joshua’s mission to serve and to bless others. Throughout his short life, Joshua was an incredibly giving person. Without fail, he gave of himself, he gave of his time, and he gave of whatever money that he had to offer. Truly selfless, he often risked his own well-being to help someone in need.
CANADA AS A NEW HOME
Joshua spent his childhood thriving in the nurturing environment of the Zambian culture which boasts a wide-spread, extended-family system in which neighbours often become as close as relatives, and where the collective works together to raise the children. Throughout his development, Joshua demonstrated a compelling connection to others by spending countless hours playing soccer with his playmates. Facing the realities of a meagre existence, the children combined their resources to fashion a make-shift ball from paper and plastic, strengthened with rubber bands to give it bounce. On occasion, they even pooled their coins together so that they could purchase a proper ball to share. These were defining moments when friendships blossomed and when Joshua’s character solidified to exhibit the qualities of compassion and generosity that made him a role model for his peers and a well-respected member of his community.
In 2002, as the Zambian economy worsened, the Mutafyas turned to Canada to begin a promising new life together. They set their sights on Regina, Saskatchewan – a place they knew little about, but in which they had a few friends to rely on for help. Mary led the family’s migration when she easily found work to utilize her skills as a Nursing Professional. In August of the following year, at the age of 14, Joshua, along with his sisters, soon followed. A few days after Christmas of the same year, Henry finally arrived, as it had taken him considerably longer to land a professional position that took full advantage of the skills and the knowledge that he possessed as an Environmental Specialist.
LEADING THE WAY
Together at last, Mary and Henry focused on their children’s education. Unsure of what the Canadian education system would be like, the Mutafyas were pleased to discover that it was actually quite easy to obtain a school placement for Joshua and his siblings. To their surprise, Canada had different school calendars than Zambia. Back in Zambia, the school year began in January. But, here in Canada, it didn’t start until September. It was a strange discovery for Joshua who felt as though he had to take the same grade twice! Nevertheless, Joshua adapted very quickly to Canadian culture – even embracing the frigid winter weather and snow. Moving to Canada was a cultural shock felt by the entire family, but the change was felt more by his siblings than by Joshua. He made friends easily at O’Neil High School, played for the school’s soccer team, was a faithful member of his Church, and was regularly involved in the Zambian community in Regina.
Joshua graduated from O’Neil in 2007 with aspirations to one day become a pilot.
While enjoying all of the opportunities and experiences that his new life in Canada had to offer, Joshua never forgot about his roots and would find ways to send clothes back to Zambia for those in need. Among his peers, Joshua was recognized as a leader and as someone who would always do the right thing. As he matured into young adulthood, Joshua could be depended upon to behave responsibly and in a guardian role. He would often act as the designated driver after a night of innocent celebration - ensuring that everyone returned home safely to their families without incident or harm.
Unfortunately, Joshua’s generosity made him vulnerable to people looking to take advantage. Wanting to help lead others to make good choices in life, Joshua found himself amongst peers who did not necessarily share his commitment to the greater good.
On February 16 of 2008, Joshua tragically lost his life. The details of his passing are excessively painful and suggest that he was a victim of peer pressure and of trusting the wrong ‘friends’. For this reason, the main objective of the Joshua Mutafya Foundation is to empower youths to navigate their God-given destiny so that they may stay the course and realize all of their hopes and dreams.
Joshua’s dream was to one day have a family, to become a pilot, and most importantly – to bless others - especially the vulnerable and less fortunate in society.
A LEGACY OF SELFLESSNESS
Joshua lived his life sharing both his heart and his possessions without ever asking what he might gain in return. From a young age through to adulthood, his time, his money, and his life energy were dedicated towards a higher cause.
By his sisters, Joshua is remembered fondly for his unwavering heart.
By his parents, he will eternally be loved for his maturity, for his wisdom, and for his undeniable devotion.
By the countless souls that his life has touched, Joshua will be honoured by this Foundation - created in his name and in his memory – to perpetuate the life of selflessness and of love that he exuded.
Joshua, ever empathetic and generous, freely gave away life’s most precious asset – love.