Archive for November, 2011
When Sister Christa Marsik, one of the Adrian Dominican Sisters working at St. Clare, arrived, she brought with her professional counseling skills and set up a counseling program at St. Clare. The children at St. Clare have heroic stories that recount how they survived on the streets, how they managed to escape from early marriages and female genital mutilation, how they endured years of mistreatment, along with questions about their future, etc. Sister Christa is there to listen and help the children sort out these experiences so these events do not become obstacles to their growth and development. Here Sister Christa is talking with a Form II girl in make-shift office at St. Clare.
Last week Walsh University in Canton Ohio held a week of activities aimed at heightening global awareness and solidarity with the poor. A highlight of the week was the students took An Uncommon Walk for the Common Good where they wore flip flops or no shoes at all to simulate a connection with people in the developing world. Funds raised during this week were given to Friends of Kenyan Orphans with the specific purpose of purchasing flip-flops for the St Clare girls in Nchiru Kenya.
Cathy Nordby Martin and Gerard Martin who visited The Children’s Village in Kenya in January 2010 had a great idea for a fundraiser for the St Clare girls. They held a Halloween costume party requesting guests forgo the usual hostess gifts of bottles of wine or flowers and instead offer a donation for Friends of Kenyan Orphans.
Some very prestigious guests were attendance: pictured here are Princess Grace of Monaco and Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz.
Without education in this developing world, you are limiting yourself. Education at St. Clare is unequalled.
Things at St. Clare are totally different from other schools from our uniform as we put on jeans, white blouses and navy blue pullovers to our beginning as a school.
When St. Clare started many people looked down on it thinking that the organization could not succeed. The school started with students learning under the trees since the building was not completed. This was not conducive to study because it was busy everywhere with construction. The teachers would dictate the notes for us since there were no appropriate places to place a blackboard. We found it difficult but since we had determination and the belief that education is the key of success, we had to persevere.
As the days went by and the school developed, more pupils who were really in need of education and could not find it elsewhere, joined us. We were now many pupils living in an environment conducive to study. Our director brought different teachers from different backgrounds to teach us. We really enjoyed the education since many of us could now read as well as write. Despite the right to education provided by law, many girls like us were denied the opportunity.
With time, the school curriculum was enhanced. The teachers started coming in the classroom at six o’clock in the morning and ending lessons at four in the evening. This is the type of learning that we now follow.
Right now, the teachers are devoted and working very hard together with the sisters to educate us spiritually, morally, emotionally, physically and psychologically. In addition to learning in the classroom, extra activities have been added. The staff members have come up with different clubs where students participate. The clubs include movement, drama, music, scouting, environmental and dancing clubs. Different teachers conduct these clubs and they nurture girls’ abilities and talents and help girls develop respect for each other.
Our teachers always tell us that successful people are not super human or endowed with certain abilities lacking in others. They are ordinary people with extra ordinary persistence and determination. The girls of St. Clare are very determined to achieve their goals by getting an education. We at St. Clare Girls’ Center have dreams that we want to make realities. There is no way we will become nurses, doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, neurosurgeons, teachers without this nine letter word “EDUCATION.”
Purity is a Form II student (sophomore) at St. Clare Girls’ Center in Nchiru, Kenya.
With the guidance of Mike and Peg Connolly in Philadelphia and Jim McLaughlin at Chestnut Hill College (pictured here) Joseph not only quickly acclimated, he EXCELLED. Everyone at the Children’s Village is proud of their “brother’ in the States.
Joseph carries a full load of classes and manages to work 20 hours a week on the campus. This past summer we had the opportunity to visit with Joseph and we were impressed with the positive image he has created for himself, Kenya and the quality of education at the Children’s Village.
Many colleges were asked to consider providing scholarships to students from the Children’s Village. Only Chestnut Hill College said “YES.” It has been a wonderful experience for everyone for Joseph has made us all proud. It is Joseph’s goal to return to Kenya and use the accounting skills he is learning to improve the functions of Kenyan government.
Matt Rahtz, pictured here on the left with a friend , is bringing the message of the Children’s Village to his school mates at Vincentian High School Academy in Pittsburgh. Through a variety of school activities Matt is aiming to establish a regular link between St. Clare Girls’ Centre in Kenya and Vincentian Academy.
Matt has a long standing relationship with the children in Kenya. His family are sponsors for one of the girls at St. Clare and his mom, Betsy, is a member of the Friends of Kenyan Orphans Board. Five years ago, when Matt was still in middle school he was involved with his parents, Jim and Betsy and sisters, Collen and Erin, collecting funds at school, family and in the community to purchase jeans, shirts and sandals for the chlidren.
Matt is working with the International Baccalaureate program in his school and we are hoping this will be the template for approaching other schools to assist their brothers and sisters in Kenya. Thanks Matt for leading the way.
PS: Matt is also a heck of a basketball player.
We reached 100 sponsors when the Mary Rose and Robert Hecksel Family in Lansing, Michigan decided to sponsor one of the girls at St. Clare. Thank you Mary Rose and Bob. Your donation of $480 will clothe, feed, educate and shelter a girl at St. Clare for an entire year. “Such a deal! Such a life-saving deal!”
The Sponsorship Program continues to be the life support system for the St. Clare Girls’ Centre. Throughout the year the children exchange letters with their sponsors. Through the letters the children learn, even though they are abandoned and orphaned, there is someone who loves and cares for them and an opportunity for the children to share their lives with someone who cares about them.
With 350 girls at St. Clare many more sponsors are needed. We encourage you to onsider being a sponsor. You can be a sponsor as an individual, a family, a class or a group such as a book club or Rotary. It only costs $480 a year to support a child and let her know she is not alone in this world.
BREAKING THE CODE OF SILENCE
I wonder how many people know of the side effects of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It has come to my consciousness that I should stand tall and break the code of silence, for this topic is a taboo to some communities.
I had carried a book called “Desert Dawn,” the author is Waris Dirie. This book is actually talking of a girl named Waris who was mutilated at the age of five and later decided to run away at the age of twelve to escape an arranged marriage.
When Waris was only as tall as a goat, her mother held her while an old woman cut off her clitoris and the inner parts of her vagina and sewed the wound closed. The woman left only a tiny matchstick-sized opening for urine and menstrual blood. This Somali girl continually experienced difficulties with urination and menstruation. Her Momma believed this would ensure her future because girls with intact genitals are considered unclean and sexually driven. No mother would consider such a girl a proper wife for her son.
To my surprise the mother of Waris did not intend to have her tortured, rather she thought she was making her a pure woman who would be a good wife and mother and an honor to her family.
The women who do the circumcision use a razor blade or a knife sharpened on a stone for the cutting. If the girl-child bleeds too long they use a paste of myrrh to stop the blood. They cannot treat infection if it occurs because they do not have penicillin or any other antibiotics. During the marriage ceremony the girl really suffers. When a girl is married, the groom tries to force open the bride’s infibulation on the wedding night.
I am also worried that the government is not sufficiently involved in protecting children from injury or abuse. As the government is passing laws against the female cut, it is with the same vigor they should vilify bush circumcision ceremonies and allow boys to be circumcised in hospital. There is no evidence that excruciating pain makes one
a grown-up or that those circumcised in hospital are not “total men”.
It has been noted that many communities use a single knife on as many as 10 boys, thereby posing a major health risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. People need to be taught that there are more hygienic ways of circumcision. As parents, we should not allow a tradition to risk our children’s lives.
This is not a call to ban circumcision of boys as a practice. It is only a call against the inhuman methods used. It is also a call to end the era of traditional surgeons. Surgery is an important field and should not be left to the village quacks. We have
doctors and that is their work. That is the reason the weather forecast is not read by rainmakers.
I want to heal women who still undergo this painful experience. I won’t be an enemy to the communities who are engaged in the practice. I will work with them through education to eradicate this practice completely. However, it is very difficult to get people to even talk about it. I kindly request that you join me to eliminate FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION.
Ann is a Form II (sophomore) student at St. Clare.
This was made possible by the generosity of many wonderful people around the world such as Mrs. Marianne Bruchmayer in Germany who donated a majority of the funds to start the project.
This is a great step forward for the children at St. Clare. Up to now they have depended on an outside faucet outside as the place to wash each day. This new facility will allow them to wash in privacy and totally.
Sr. Kathryn reports: “In the Sanitation Block the metal doors are all completed and hung, toilets are installed, pipes for showers are installed, lavatories are all installed, overhead lights are
installed, walls are plastered. What remains is to set in place floor drains in each of the three sections. slant the floors as they are sealed and readied for tile and then finally the tile work on the walls and floors.”
The last step is to install the tiles on the floor and walls.
Brownell Middle School in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan raised over $300 for St. Clare during just one jean day. Joanna Porvin, a teacher at Brownell, went to Kenya in 2010 and taught at St. Clare. Joanne is pictured here in Kenya, assisting a student at St. Clare.
Joanne returned to teaching at St. Clare and has been a wonderful advocate for the young girls she taught at St. Clare. The children remember Madam Joanna and Madam Joanna has not forgotten them.
Thank you Joanna and thank you to the students at Brownell Middle School.