Again this year, Truda Dearie Frekko (one of Sue Ozar’s college friends) and her grandchildren decided to do a lemonade stand to benefit the girls at St Clare Centre for Girls. Because the venture was so successful in 2013, Truda’s grandchildren were excited to repeat their project. Setbacks aside (rain every day), they caught a lucky break when the weather drastically improved. The grandchildren had so much fun with their lemonade stand, which included meeting many interesting people who stopped by. When the lemonade drinkers saw a poster of the St. Clare girls, many of them opened up their wallets. Landscape crews on their way home from work stopped and enjoyed the lemonade with the children. Raising $100.00, Truda’s grandchildren had fun and benefited St. Clare Centre at the same time.
Earlier this summer, Bud and Sue Ozar traveled once again to the Diocese of Johnstown, Pennsylvania to speak to folks there about St. Clare Centre for Girls. On this trip, they spoke at Resurrection Parish in Johnstown. Resurrection is a parish that was created six years ago when six ethnic parishes were combined. The parish now includes Irish, German, Polish, Croatian, Slovak and Hungarian parishioners who ancestors came to Pennsylvania to work in the steel mills in the 1800s. Once again the people of Pennsylvania were open to hearing about St. Clare Centre and also offering financial support. Asante Johnstown-ers for your care and support of the wonderful St. Clare girls.
During their visit to St. Clare Centre for Girls in February 2014, Bud Ozar and Rich Horrigan spent time seeing the tilapia ponds and other fishponds Father Riwa has developed with Friends of Kenyan Orphans’ support. Bud and Rich were pleased to see that over 90% of the ponds are highly successful. In addition, Father is using two of the ponds to experiment with catfish. These fish grow fast and are large. As a result, Father uses the fish to feed the girls as well as selling some in the local markets. With the funds he generates, Father is able to buy other foods that he is unable to grow. Bud and Rich also spent some time visiting the on-site greenhouses at St. Clare. In these greenhouses different kinds of vegetables are growing which are then used to enhance the diets of the girls at St. Clare. Finally, they walked in the gardens where bananas, mangos and paw paws are also growing well. Many of the mangos the girls eat come from the tree, which is the original spot where Father first began helping Meru’s street children.
During her visit to St. Clare Centre for Girls in February 2014, Doreen Poupard had the opportunity to meet Doreen, one of St. Clare’s recent graduates. Doreen Poupard, retired assistant to the Superintendent of the Ann Arbor public schools had the opportunity to sit down with Doreen and learn about this young Kenyan woman. Graduate Doreen shared that St. Clare has provided her with an education, food and safety. In addition, she related that she is so grateful to people who have contributed to St. Clare and people like Doreen Poupard who have visited St. Clare. It really is a small world that two fine women named Doreen would meet each other near the village of Nchiru in Kenya.
In December 2013, 13 girls became the first graduating class from St. Clare. As they await the results from the Kenyan National Exams, they have remained at St. Clare. However, now they are involved at St. Clare in a different capacity. Both Father Riwa and Madam Sarah, the school’s chief administrator, firmly believe that it is important that the girls learn to give back for all they have been given and also learn about earning money. As a result, all of the girls have been involved in a variety of “jobs” either at St. Clare or in the neighboring area where they are helping others in some way and also receiving some money for their work. Lydia, for example, has been tutoring several of the new girls just coming into St. Clare. She tutors them on their academics and helps them adjust to life at St. Clare.
Several other girls have been working in the various greenhouses and gardens helping with the care of the crops.
Other graduates worked with the girls on their sponsorship letters, while still some others assisted Bud with the electrical audit he was doing of St. Clare. Truly these young women are learning life lessons prior to post secondary training.
Two members of St. Clare’s first graduating class will be coming to the U.S. this fall for college. Thanks to the generosity of Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia and Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, Mercy (Chestnut Hill) and Purity (Siena Heights) will become full time college students. While she was at St. Clare in February, Sue Ozar spent some time with Mercy and Purity.
Sue helped the girls get their passport and visa papers in order, talked with them about university life in the U.S. and discussed general things about what these two young Kenyan women might expect when they make their trek here to study. Both Mercy and Purity are excited to begin their studies and are extremely grateful to those who have provided this opportunity for them.
After visiting St. Clare Centre for Girls, Doreen Poupard experienced both insight and a renewed view of the world. When asked to describe the girls of St. Clare, Doreen notes that they are full of joy and extremely loving. She sees them as disciplined, studious girls who focus on their learning. With each other, they are thoughtful as they look out for each other.
Because of this, Doreen senses a true sense of community among the girls who genuinely like each other and find fun in even their simply activities. Further, Doreen says, “These girls have endured so much; they are strong, resilient and beautiful with an inner beauty expressed in their smiles and dynamic energy. They put their entire selves into whatever they are doing, delighting in the moment, frequently in song and dance.”
Doreen left St. Clare feeling deeply touched and so grateful that she was able to witness the lives of these remarkable young women. Like those before her who have visited St. Clare, Doreen discovered that things and “stuff” don’t define a person’s life. To Doreen, her visit to St. Clare was a spiritual experience. “I was uplifted in spirit and challenged to be a better person by these girls who live so fully with so little.”
During his most recent visit to the U.S., Father Riwa greeted many of the volunteers who have served the children at St. Clare Centre for Girls. Bud and Sue Ozar hosted a gathering of volunteers at their home. In attendance were members of the 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 teams who traveled with Bud and Sue to work with the girls at St. Clare. In addition, members of the Development Committee, Friends of Kenyan Orphans’ Board and two of the Adrian Dominican sisters who spent three years at St. Clare were in attendance. It was a wonderful evening celebrating the work Father is doing at St. Clare and thanking those who have shared their time and talents in this mission.
During his recent visit to Detroit, Father Riwa met with Father Tom Lumpkin, who cares for homeless men, women and children who are destitute. Both Father Riwa and Father Lumpkin truly live the Gospel message radically.
In addition, Father Riwa and Father Tom con celebrated Mass on Sunday AT St.. Ignatius Community. For several years, the St. Ignatius Community has been most generous in their support to Friends of Kenyan Orphans.
As he began his journey to the U.S. this time, Father Riwa stopped in Colorado at the home of Friends of Kenyan Orphans’ Board Member, Rich Horrigan. Rich hosted a reception to introduce Father to several of his friends in Colorado as well as many current supporters of St. Clare Centre for Girls. Several of the attendees are part of the Regis Jesuit High School community (the only co—divisional [separate boys and girls] Jesuit high school in the country.) While there, Father Riwa met and bonded with Fr. Steele, S.J., President of Regis Jesuit.