WILMINGTON, Del. —A former college rugby player who toured U.S. colleges and churches urging people to help children in war-riven Uganda was among 74 killed by explosions that tore through crowds watching the World Cup final in the African country.
Nate Henn was on a rugby field Sunday in Kampala with some of the children he'd gone to help when he was hit by shrapnel from one of the blasts, according to the aid group he worked for.
A Uganda native whom Henn mentored traveled back to the country with him and was standing next to him, but 20-year-old Innocent Opwonya wasn't harmed.
"Right now he's so broken he can barely talk," Jedidiah Jenkins, spokesman for the aid group Invisible Children, said of Opwonya. "Nate was just his father figure, his brother, his family."
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Dozens of people were wounded in the attack, including at least three Americans from a Pennsylvania church group. A powerful al-Qaida-affiliated militant faction in Somalia claimed responsibility Monday.
Henn, 25, had spent the past year traveling to campuses and churches to raise money and seek volunteers for work in Uganda. Henn raised thousands of dollars for children's education and went to the country to meet the children, the aid group said.
The children called Nate Henn "Oteka," or the strong one, and they "fell in love with Nate's wit, strength, character and steadfast friendship," the San Diego-based group that helps child soldiers said on its website.
Henn's former youth pastor, the Rev. Andrew Hudson, said Henn was a gentle, sincere young man with deep compassion for those in distress.
The pastor from Chelten Baptist Church in Dresher, Pa., said Henn knew that traveling in Africa could be dangerous. "Nate was willing to take that risk in order to provide hope and healing for precious children who were finding themselves in very difficult situations," Hudson said.
Henn's parents, who live in Raleigh, N.C., declined to comment. Early Monday, a truck delivered flowers to their two-story brick home.
His sister Brynne Henn wrote on her Facebook page: "I just don't understand. Please pray."