A specialized courier company in Toronto has offered to fly the body of an undocumented construction worker home to Costa Rica, free of charge, so that his family can give him a proper burial.
The offer, from First International Courier Systems, was part of an outpouring of generosity that followed yesterday's Globe and Mail story about Alvaro Vargas Fonseca, 38, who died of a heart attack on a Mississauga job site Feb. 25. Since then, his body has sat in limbo at a funeral home because neither his Toronto landlady nor his family in Central America can afford transport and other death-related costs, pegged at a minimum $8,000.
Several other donors came forward yesterday with offers of cash.
"The company's touched by this, and we'll just see what we can't do here," said Adrienne Rosen, president of the courier company, whose specialties include emergency shipments of life-saving transplant materials.
Stephen Neprily, a funeral director who is overseeing the arrangements at Lynett Funeral Home in Toronto, said airfare alone typically costs between $2,000 and $4,000 for a body transfer, and that few courier companies will ship human remains.
Among several other donors to come forward yesterday was a Thornhill woman who offered to send a monthly donation to Mr. Fonseca's three children, aged 4, 9 and 13.
A fund has been set up to cover other death-related costs, including document processing, preparation of the body, a hermetically sealed metal casket and air shipping tray. Excess funds will go to Mr. Fonseca's family.
Donations can be made by cheque, payable to: the estate of the late Alvaro Vargas Fonseca, at the Portuguese Canadian Credit Union, 1168 Dundas St. W., Toronto, M6J 1X4, phone: 416-533-9245.