Archive for February, 2012
Donna Orbovich, owner and instructor at The Yoga Shelter in Grosse Pointe recently offered her yoga class as a fundraiser for Friends of Kenyan Orphans. A capacity crowd of 53 people attended and participated in the class. Among the participants were Mary Jo Johnson, Fran Benz and Ed Benz, who all had been visitors and workers at The Children’s Village. All of the participants in the hour long class showed a great interest in and support for the work of Friends of Kenyan Orphans. The yoga experience provided a wonderful opportunity for giving. Thank you Donna for your genuine interest and generous support.
The refurbishing of the dispensary rooms is moving along. Walls are going up which will separate the dispensary from the science lab classrooms. In addition, skilled cement workers are putting in the supports for the lab tables and the lab sinks.
The Form II girls are the pioneers of St. Clare Girls’ Center. They have encountered many tribulations in their lives. I will try to give you a better understanding of their story and mine, for I am one of them.
Father Riwa, a missionary from Tanzania, built St. Francis Children’s Village to help street boys in Kenya. The news of this school spread like wildfire. Many orphaned girls used to go to St. Francis to ask Father if he would sponsor them. St. Francis was only meant for boys and Father would not mix girls with boys, although he had mercy on us girls. Whenever he saw us, he only thought of how girls who have no parents were being mistreated. This encouraged him to build a girls’ school.
In 2006, Father Riwa built St. Clare Girls’ Center to help orphan girls from different tribes. We were very lucky to be sponsored since many of us lived miserable lives. We came from different backgrounds. Some had gone to school but others had not. When we met here in 2006, we all started with class one work because our Father Riwa believed that “Repetition is the mother of learning.”
The school was not yet well developed in 2006. There were no dormitories, and only a few classrooms. We came to school every morning and returned home in the evening. Our relatives who didn’t like us to study would refuse to take us to school so had to start our journey at 5:00 in the morning to reach school on time. Dangerous wild animals could attack us on our way to school in the morning, but since we were devoted to education we had to persevere. We also had no dinning hall so we used to eat our breakfast and lunch under the trees.
Some girls ran away because of these difficult struggles. They said that they were too big to start in class one. They had no faith that one day everything would fine. After running away from school, some got married had children. They wished to come back to St. Clare, but it was too late. Those of us who remained decided to cope with the situation as we believed what is says in Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread till you return to the ground. For out of it you were taken, you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” We did not lose hope as we were determined to put more effort into our studies. In that one year we covered the work from class one to class four. As the days went by, we became used to the school. We were provided with everything and we even began to forget the past lives that we lived.
The second year, 2007, the dormitories were built and we started sleeping at school. The dining hall also was built and we stopped eating outside under the trees. We were very happy to be in a comfortable environment. From there we started learning two classes per year. Everyday began with Mass at five o’clock offered by Father Riwa. What a wonderful school where pupils learn, freely guided by the Word of God from the Holy Bible. The school also developed a lot because of the many friends who provided enough money.
In 2009, we sat for our final exams in primary level. Everyone was surprised when the results came out, as we all had passed with flying colors. Nobody had below three hundred marks out of five hundred. We all made it to secondary level so Father added secondary level at St Clare. As a result, we did not struggle looking for schools. We worked hard knowing that education favors only the prepared mind. We all said, “YES WE CAN. NO IS NOT AN OPTION”.
Fourteen of us passed the Form One exam and were promoted to Form Two. We refused to look backward but only forward to a bright future where we could become the future leaders of Kenya. We have different ambitions, which I hope we will attain. We are role models in our school and so we have a big responsibility, which our teachers are helping us achieve!
Purity (bottom row, fourth from the right) is a Form II (sophomore) student at St. Clare Girls’ Center in Nchiru, Kenya.
The recent famine in Kenya has taught a difficult lesson. Just like the stock market, Kenyans must DIVERSIFY so Fr. Riwa has decided to build fishponds. This way he will not be totally dependent on grains. Small fishponds have proved very successful in other parts of Africa, especially for raising tilapia. The process is inexpensive, very productive and the fish provide vitamins critical to a healthy diet.
The Adrian Dominican Sisters organized an Environmental Club at St. Clare and one of the duties of the club members will be the care of the fishponds. Here the Environmental Club is at Meru University learning the skills necessary to be good fish farmers.
It all started so simply. Last year Lisa Cracchiolo Peracchio brought several digital cameras when she visited the St. Clare Centre. Lisa and Sister Kathryn started a simple photojournalism club, teaching the girls how to use the cameras and how to write stories to accompany the photos. The picture here shows how the club has grown and will soon produce the first school paper, THE CLARIAN CALL. Pictured here with Sister Kathryn are two teachers, Mr. Onesmus and Mr. Muema. Looking on are members of the editorial staff: Agnes, Ann, Irene, Nancy and Lydia. Little did Lisa and Sister Kathryn know what would develop from the seeds they were planting a year ago!
Science education and a good background in science are vital for the girls at the St. Clare Center. In order to make this happen, the Adrian Sisters at St. Clare requested funds from a donor so that science labs could be built. These labs will allow science to become an integral part of St. Clare’s curriculum and provide the girls with the educational opportunities they need to pursue higher education and future careers. Next door to St. Clare is the parish health dispensary, which contains several unused rooms. These rooms are in the process of being refurbished so that they can be converted into the site for the science labs.
Taking an idea and making it work is exactly what Rebekah Teal and her ten-year-old daughter, Alley, did. The two came up with the idea of sending nightgowns to the girls at St. Clare Center. The Teals thought that they would collect 340 nightgowns in the U.S. and ship them to St. Clare Center. However, with all good ideas, there are also bumps in the road that can stall an idea. Rebekah and her daughter learned that collected items like the nightgowns most likely would never reach the girls at St. Clare as packages often never make it to Kenyan destinations for a variety of reasons.
A solution was needed to keep the idea going! And that it exactly what happened! The Teals would raise the money here in the U.S. and have the nightgowns made in Kenya. Not only would the girls benefit from culturally appropriate nightgowns, but money would go to local seamstresses and thereby help these workers support their families with food and medicine.
Enter Sister Kathryn, one of the Adrian Dominican sisters who is working at St. Clare and who also knows Rebekah very well. Sister Kathryn found the appropriate fabric and seamstresses in Kenya and is coordinating the making of the nightgowns there.
A great formula for success emerged: American resources + Kenyan labor = benefit for the St. Clare girls.
If you wish to get involved with this project, just send a donation to FRIENDS OF KENYAN ORPHANS and indicate it is for the “Sweet Dreams Campaign.”
Attached is the first St. Clare Girls’ Center magazine, St. Clarion Call. I know you will be pleased, we surely are. It is to be remembered that the oldest of these girls were sophomores in December and that English is their THIRD language. Click below to download your copy.
Seneca Middle School 6th grade students from Macomb, Michigan are preparing to support Tabitha a student at St Clare for yet another year.
In mid November, Sue Ozar addressed all 460 sixth graders who, before the presentations even concluded, were planning how they would secure the funds to send to Kenya for Tabitha.
Congratulations to the students and staff of Seneca Middle School for their incredibly generous spirit. You are awesome!
Each year Bud when Sue Ozar return to Kenya, they bring a small group of volunteers who work at the Children’s Village and lend their experience, expertise, skills and talents to the children and staff. Rounding out the group going in February of 2012 are Chris Miller (on the left) and her daughter Kathryn Miller Borio. Chris is a veteran early childhood teacher in Fraser, Michigan and Kathryn is a speech therapist working in a medical facility in Chicago. Together they will team up and teach the “little ones” at St. Clare Girls’ Centre along with introducing new methods to the present Kenyan teachers.