Archive for December, 2010
We are often asked if the Children’s Village receives any support from the Government of Kenya. The answer is always “NO” because the country of Kenya is wrapped in poverty on every level and does not have resources to address so many needs.
In fact the opposite is the case. The government looks to the Fr. Riwa for his help. Attached is a recent request from the Republic of Kenya: Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development. We have blocked the names of the mother and children to protect their privacy. The District Children’s Officer writes about one little orphaned girl named Mary.
“THE CHLID IS AN ORPHAN AND IS IN DIRE NEED OF CARE AND PROTECTION. I AM KINDLY REQUESTING YOU TO EXTEND YOUR KINDNESS BY SPONSORING THE ABOVE CHILD AT THE ST. CLARE GIRLS CENTRE.”
Of course, Fr. Riwa said “Yes” and Mary now has a home at the Chlidren’s Village and 340 new sisters.
The sisters home (Siena House) has finally been completed and the sisters moved in last week. The next day the women from the neighboring village came to welcome them “Kenyan Style” which means they come to clean the outside of our compound and prepare your garden.
You see, most Kenyans do not shop at a grocery store, they grow what they eat. So a kitchen garden is absolutely necessary to survive. So the women made brooms from tree branches and swept the dirt from around the Siena House and then prompt went to work turning over the soil to prepare the ground for planting.
The celebration of Christmas is much more simple for the idea of gift giving has not caught on there. As a result the focus is on Advent and preparing. Christmas will be celebrated by going to Church and returning home for a meal with the whole family. If you are lucky, it will be a meal which will have some meat.
Because the focus is much more spiritual Sister Maurine had the opportuntiy to introduce the children to the Jesse Tree as a symbol reminding them to prepare their hearts for Christmas so hat Christ can be born anew.
Notice the joyful looks on the children.
One of the Adrian Dominican Sisters who recently arrived in Kenya to assist Fr.Riwa offers the following reflection. At this time of year when we are encouraged to consume and buy and shop ’til we drop ….. this is a worthwhile reflection.
It is very difficult for us American’s who have so much to even imagine living with so little. We four Adrian Dominicans in our little community are really struggling with and working on simplicity of life and examining needs versus wants. There is so much here that is bountiful – nature that is breathtaking, plants, flowers, trees, fruit, vegetables, birds and animals. Kenya offers feast for eyes and soul if one can just be present to it all.
Singing and dancing are an integral part of the Kenyan culture and accompanies every festive gathering. The girls at St. Clare continue this tradition whenever there is a gathering to greet visitors, or as entertainment for each other.
This YouTube video below captures such a moment. Without TV, Ipods, Blackberries, cell phones or even a radio, these girls have the time (and the natural talent) to create new songs and dances for every new occassion. As you can see the performance on the video is in the great outdoor stage under the mango tree. Just click on the link below to be taken to the ‘performance.’ Enjoy!
Answer: “Anywhere they want to!
This picture of the ‘neighbors’ was taken last week as the ‘neighbors’ grazed close to the Children’s Village. It is not uncommon the children and staff are summoned at night to get up and make a lot of noise to scare away the ‘neighbors’ least they eat the produce in the farm which supports the Children’s Village.
The new perimeter stone wall around the Village will go a long way to protecting some of the crops. Elephants just walk through barbed wire.
So if you are having trouble with your neighbors, remember, it could always get worse.
Four Adrian Dominican Sisters arrived in Kenya in mid October expecting their home to be ready the first of November. Now they are hoping to be in it in time for Christmas. Their home is located next to the St. Clare Girls’ Centre for they will be working closing with the girls. In the background you can see the home of the Indian Sisters who operate the parish medical dispensary.
The residence is dedicated to St. Catherine of Siena, a famous Dominican Saint. Thus it is referred to as The Siena House.
If you ever had a bit of news which was so good you couldn’t wait to tell people, well that is our situation today. Good news is hard to keep to oneself. I wanted to wait until the end of December, but I just couldn’t.
You see, we just reached the 1,000 person to make a donation to the St. Clare and the Children’s Village. Just two years ago we were a small group of donors. Now we are a team of 1,000.
Here is the account of Sr. Kathryn Cliatt, OP. She is one of the four Adrian Dominican Sisters who went to Kenya two months ago to open a new mission and assist Fr. Riwa with the girls at St. Clare. Sr. Kathyrn writes:
“And the girls keep coming. A couple of weeks ago a little girl was brought in one night by her foster parents. Her father had just passed and her mother had passed some time back. This elderly couple, he an Italian doctor and she a Kenyan woman now found that they were just too old to care for this young energetic child, so they brought her to St Clare Girls Center, a place they felt was safe and would provide a good education. The little girl, Judy, is as cute as can be. She was supposed to be six, but it turns out that she is really three. She is in the first grade group and is learning English and Kiswahili.
Two other girls were brought down from Samburu from the Maasai tribe by women in an organization called “One more day for a Child”. This organization was started by a Czech woman and is run locally by Kenyan women. They rescue abused, neglected and endangered girls. The girls they brought, interestingly, both named Evelyn, are tall slender and have beautiful elegant features. They are both 12 years of age; one has been married for two years and one for seven months. They were married to very old men who were beating them because they were not yet pregnant. Both have been circumcised, another horrendous experience. So the girls ran away and the brave women from this organization rescued them, took them to doctors for physicals, obtained the meds for infections and brought them to St. Clare Center.
The first day the girls looked terrified. Neither could speak English nor even Kiswahili. Fortunately there are teachers in the school who speak the Samburu language and could communicate somewhat. I saw them again a week later when I was sitting in one of the first grade classes where they had been placed for initial learning and they both looked at me several times during class with big smiles. They clearly feel safe and cared-for. Slowly they are learning English.
In a week or two we expect to receive up to 20 more girls rescued from the same fate as the Evelyns. I do not know where Madam Angela and Madam Edna will put them, or where the funds will come from to feed and clothe them. We desperately need the girls’ building to be completed. The third floor still needs the wing with the bathrooms to be completed which will entail roofing the area, installing the plumbing and electric, enclosing and finishing some classrooms and dormitories. Also, the kitchen must be built. The cooking for the girls is being done in an open walled, roofed shed. “
Each year at this time Fr. Riwa attempts to place as many children as possible in their home village for the holidays. This is quite an undertaking when you realize there are almost 500 boys and 340 girls to place. He does this for several reasons.
Each child comes from a village where he / she has some distant relatives and where he/she can reconnect to her family and tribal roots and traditions. Also, the teachers at the Children’s Village live there all year long and this gives them a chance to go home and spend time with their families who are often hundreds of miles away.
There are always 40-60 children whom he cannot place in a family or for whom he fears for their safety. So they will spend Christmas in the Children’s Village with Fr. Riwa and the four Adrian Dominican Sisters.
This is always a risk for Father and for the children. Each year they return back in January and many are malnourished and sickly and almost all have stomach parasites and worms. So he must instantly begin a massive de-worming and medical process as soon as they return.
Because the school is run on the British system, exams are completed and the children are in the process of returning to their home villages for the next 2-3 weeks.