Archive for March, 2012
April is soon approaching
KROGER has sent this reminder to Friends of Kenyan Orphans. Those participating will need to re-enroll to continue earning in the Kroger Community Rewards Program. All participants MUST sigh up each April for the program in order to earn funds for the group during 2012-2013.
Even if there are members who signed up for Kroger Community Rewards in February or March of this year—which will earn your organization funds as part of the 05/2011 to 05/2012 program—they must re-enroll after April 1ST 2012 ( NO SOONER) to continue earning rewards during the coming year, 05/2012 to 05/2013.
It’s easy to enroll or re-enroll in Kroger Community Rewards. Simply visit www.krogercommunityrewards.com, click on “Michigan” and click on “Enroll” to register for the first time and “Re-enroll” to re-register.
All participants must have a valid online account at Kroger.com and must sign up online to participate. Organization members can no longer scan their group’s barcode at the registers or service desk.
(FYI: FOKO’s Kroger Community Rewards number is 90964.)
by Irene Kawira, Ann Nkatha and the Photojournalism Class
In February 2012, the Form One girls (who had graduated from 8th grade in December) were inducted into the St. Clare Society.
Many people joyfully arrived for this ceremony, including the secondary school students, some of the teachers, the Sisters, our school administrator, Md. Sarah, our school Principal, Mr. Patrick and special guests from the U.S.A., Mr. Bud, Md. Sue, Md. Kathy, Mr. Jack, Mr. Andy, Md. Kathryn and Md. Chris. Our school Director, Father Frances Riwa, was also in attendance.
The ceremony started with an opening song that was followed by words of advice from three students. Beatrice Gacheri talked about the life of St. Clare, the patron of the school. Beatrice said, “St Clare was born in Italy in 1193. She was inspired to serve God and she requested St. Francis to accept her into his ministry. He received her and they started serving God together. St Clare lived very simply all of her life. She dedicated her life to serving the poor. She died August 11, 1253 and was canonized in 1255.”
Next, the girls were encouraged to live simply following St. Clare’s way of life and by doing so they can live happily with everyone. They were given guidance on how to be caring, responsible and how to give service to those in need.
Three other students spoke. Mercy Kianira talked about care, Agnes Alex reflected on leadership and Lydia Lenengwesi discussed service. These messages all pointed out similar virtues that all of us are required to learn in order to imitate St. Clare. These include kindness, serving the poor, obedience, being a role model, caring and being responsible. To be kind one has to be ready to help both the people who are close by as well as those who are far away. Service needs to be extended to all people, both young and old, men and women. It is necessary to serve people who really need our care regardless of their backgrounds. The older girls at St. Clare are expected to strive for all of these virtues for themselves and for the well being of the other pupils.
After the student presentations, our School Director, Fr. Francis Riwa, acknowledged what the students had said and asked everyone to act as role models and leave legacies for the future generations in the school.
Father Riwa then blessed the new members and asked the Form One students to step to the front. Our school Administrator, Md. Sarah, placed a St. Clare medal around each student’s neck to indicate that she was now a member of the St Clare Society of St. Clare Girls’ Center. Medals were also bestowed on Md. Sue and Mr. Bud Ozar and they were inducted as honorary members of the St. Clare Society.
After some words of thanks from Sister Christa, the ceremony ended with a closing song “Sing for Joy.” Truly, this was a wonderful afternoon.
The Saint Clare Girls’ Center’s Photojournalism class interviewed the founders of Friends of Kenyan Orphans (FOKO), Madam Sue and Mr. Bud Ozar when they were at St. Clare for their annual trip in March 2012. This is the second part of the interview conducted by the girls.
Christine: How do you manage to get the money contributed for the building of the school?
Md. Sue: By writing letters to friends in America, Germany and Singapore. Sometimes we also bring friends to St. Clare so that they can see how wonderful the girls are. We also ask for help on our web page and by writing articles.
Mr. Bud: We also give talks in churches so that people may contribute. We spend most of our time traveling around the country to talk about these wonderful girls. As we travel to some schools some students help out. We spend 12 to 14 hours per day and seven days per week on this.
Lydia: Are there people from your country who support you in this mission? Are there others who don’t believe in your work?
Md. Sue: Yes, there are many people who support us. Many of them have huge hearts and they are willing to help the poor girls like you children. There are also others who do not believe in the work that we are doing, but the majority are those who believe and support us.
Irene K.: Do you still have enough time with your families?
Md. Sue: Oh, yes. We do have time with our families. All we do is to plan to have time with our families and spend much time with them. Although they complain that we have paid much more attention to Africa (she laughs). My children say they wish they were small Kenyan children so that more of our attention can be paid to them. The real thing is that we try our best to have time with them.
Agnes: How are you planning for every pupil/student at St. Clare in the future?
Mr. Bud: We are focusing on completing the building and sponsorship for every single child’s support. We plan to bring many people with us on our trips here to meet you.
Pauline: What do you think you might feel when you see girls succeeding and joining highly qualified universities like Joseph Mutuma did?
Md. Sue: Probably, I will be very proud, most impressed and a most happy person.
Mr. Bud: This will make me very happy since Md. Sue and I want you girls to find happiness in life. Joseph Mutuma has really impressed me even the way he conducts himself in the college. I will be very happy to see you girls like Joseph. We are hoping to see all of you in colleges and universities, and be successful women.
Nancy: When you come to Kenya to visit the children, what challenges do you meet? Do you see any change to the children and the school? Or do you find it the same as when you left?
Md. Sue: It is not a challenge for me to be here. The only thing that I see that is difficult is when many people come to me for help and I cannot give it. And it is very hard to leave you.
Mr. Bud: We do see a lot of changes in you. You are more organized. There is a good environment. You are becoming beautiful women and wise ladies.
Both: There is wonderful change.
Pauline: How do you manage to continue helping an institution like St. Clare when you find some things that are disorganized, like clothes on the floor, dirty pavements/ classes? How do you tolerate it and manage to make the next visit?
Md. Sue: Oh! I just ignore this since I understand that the girls are young and some of them do not know how to take care. We also have families and know this is how little girls are.
Mr. Bud: There is a great improvement in the cleanliness of the sanitation block, so I understand that you girls are taking care of things and are educating the little girls on how to take care of things.
Mercy: Since the time you have been at St. Clare and the time you have spent with the girls, how can you describe them?
Md. Sue: Words to describe girls at St. Clare are beyond comprehension. But if I am really urged to describe them, I would say that they are intelligent, open, joyful, hardworking, friendly, affectionate, welcoming, attentive students and lastly I can describe them as “special girls”.
Mr. Bud: The girls at St. Clare really give me hope in my mission. They are young leaders and missionaries in training. I call them “special girls” also just as the twelve disciples, they were called aside to be trained so that they can also continue with God’s mission in the future. They are girls of much honor and are full of virtues.
(The girls in the Photojournalism class designed their interview with Madam Sue and Mr. Bud Ozar. They then conducted the interview, took the photographs and put the interview into words for FOKO’s web page. Continue your wonderful work, ladies!)
(Pictured below are Purity, Mr. Bud and Mercy and Madam Sue and Ann.)
On March 29, 2012 the St. Clare Girls’ Center Photojournalism Class held its first press conference and photo shoot. Madam Sue and Mr. Bud Ozar, long-time benefactors of St. Clare and the founders of “Friends of Kenyan Orphans, Inc.” (FOKO) were here at St Clare for their annual visit. Since 2006, this couple has spent incredible energy and endless hours soliciting support for the girls and the school. A large part of the school building is witness to their efforts as is the number of girls sponsored by FOKO. The girls had many questions to ask Sue and Bud.
Nancy: Where do you come from and where is your home now?
Md. Sue: I was born in Pennsylvania in a town called Reading. Mr. Bud and I both live in Michigan now.
Mr. Bud: I was born in Michigan and I live in Michigan with Md. Sue. We sometimes spend 1 or 2 months in Kenya.
Beatrice: When you first visited Kenya, were you coming as a tourist or did you have a plan to come and start your mission of helping the needy?
Md. Sue: We belonged to a lay mission group in our country and we were first sent to Samoa Island in the Pacific Ocean for 3 years as missionaries. After the 3 years we were sent to Meru to work in the year 2006.I started teaching at St. Dominic in Meru and I saw very little work for me to do there. Since I was energetic I decided to ask for more classes and I got to teach at St. Francis and St Clare. I was always inspired to work with the poor since middle school, throughout college, and now in my real life.
Purity: How did you meet Father Riwa?
Mr. Bud: I was working in the Diocese of Meru at Bishop Mugambi’s Office where my mission sent me. Father Riwa used to come there regularly and one day he came into my office and told me that he would like us to visit his children’s home at Nchiru. When I visited the girls’ school I was touched and felt that I should do something to help him in running his mission. Before I left for the U.S.A. I promised him to raise the money for the building of the school. I believe this is the year that you will see the school complete.
Md. Sue I had the desire to help the needy and when we returned from Kenya and he talked to me about helping Fr. Riwa in completing the Girls’ school, I immediately agreed. We dedicated ourselves fully to helping Fr. Riwa because we believe in his mission, and (she laughed) because he is a smart man.
Caren: What inspired you to help Father Riwa and help the needy children?
Md. Sue: I always wanted to help the poor. Something that is found deep in me that always showed me that I need to serve God through poor people.
Mr. Bud: When Father Riwa visited me frequently I learned to love him by the way he lived simply and was honest. It made me want to support him to help the poor.
Irene A.: Are there suffering girls and boys in your country and if there are, what made you leave them and come to Kenya to help the poor girls here?
Md. Sue: Yes, there are. Our interest was to come to Kenya, Africa to help and so our missions focused on the needs of Kenyans.
Mr. Bud: This was a call from God. We had to respond to it.
Mercy: Did you two agree and come up with the plan to help St. Clare together, or did one of you think of it first?
Mr. Bud: It was a natural idea. We both felt that we were still connected to the children in Kenya. We were most impressed by Fr. Riwa and even the smart girls at the children’s home impressed us.
Md. Sue: We felt that we needed to help, and it took us a long time to think and pray about it. God helped us with finances and we started our mission. Although we knew that Father helped both girls and boys, we decided to put our energies into St. Clare rather than St. Francis.
Claudia: When did you start your mission of helping St. Clare?
Md. Sue: I came in 2008 and taught English in both St. Francis and St. Clare.
PART 2 OF THE INTERVIEW WILL APPEAR ON MARCH 26.
(Madam Sue and Mr. Bud Ozar along with members of the St. Clare Girls’ Center Photojournalism Class.)
JUST A REMINDER! If you signed up with the Kroger Community Rewards Program, you need to take a few minutes and re-sign up in APRIL. You can click on to the Kroger Plus Card here and you will be directed to the web site. You will need your Kroger Plus Card and the number, 90964. Once you have signed up again, simply swipe your Kroger Plus Card when you shop at Kroger. Kroger will donate a percent of your bill to help the girls at St. Clare Center.
December 25th is one of the biggest occasions celebrated all over the world because it is the day that we remember the birth of Jesus Christ.
That morning at St. Clare Centre, the crowing of the roster woke us up. The sun’s rays were beautiful as they were emerging from the east. The songs of the birds, which pierced the still morning, spurred us to rise swiftly. It was exactly 6.00 o’clock when everybody woke up to prepare the day. We hurried in the shower rooms and dressed immediately for Mass. The rays of the sun and the cool air informed us that this day was really different from other days.
The Mass was conducted by our priests, Fr. Francis and Fr. Benedict. Fr. Francis told very interesting story of Jesus. He said,” Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary, was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the town of David. Mary was a virgin and so she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because the king wanted every citizen of that country to be counted, Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem counted. While in Bethlehem the time came for Mary to have her child. There was no place available for her as all rooms were booked.”Father went on, “Nevertheless, the baby was born in a stable where Joseph and Mary had settled for the night. Mary wrapped him in and laid him in a manger. It is surprising that the long-awaited Messiah foretold by the Old Testament prophets should be born under such unfavorable conditions”, he said.
As soon as the Mass was ended we did not lose a single minute. We went directly to the dining hall for breakfast, a cup of porridge and a piece of bread for each of us. In the dining hall Madam Sarah played some very interesting Christmas songs.
Without wasting too much time, Madam Sarah, asked some senior girls to go to the kitchen to assist the cooks in preparing food while other seniors accompanied her and the junior girls for a short walk. Among the latter, I walked up to a place called Rwanjwee.
Our journey back to school started and everybody was eager to reach home. On the way, we encountered a nearby spring of water where we found a green snake. Each of us wanted to bruise its head because according to our traditional understanding, whoever bruises the head of a snake will live seven days more.
On arrival at school we were surprised to see a very different lunch very different from what we normally eat. The lunch was spaghetti, beef, broth and stew. The children who had not seen such food referred to spaghetti as small snakes. When they tasted it, they found that it was more delicious than anything they ever had. This unique meal was a true surprise.
We could not believe it. Everyone ate until our bellies would not allow any more. It was then that Madam Sarah told us the secret of satisfaction is exercise. She switched on the radio and everybody began doing her own style of dancing. We danced until our stomachs were lighter so that we would be able to sleep.
Truly this was the best experience I have ever had in my second home. The day was a really enjoyable, unique and fantastic Christmas Day for me and for every member of St. Clare’s’ community. (The girls dance after a wonderful dinner.)
Last year when she returned from teaching at St. Clare, St. Gerard History teacher, Mrs. Kathy Partlow, spoke to all of the students at St. Gerard School in Lansing, Michigan. These students were so touched by the stories of the girls at St. Clare that they donated money to help finish the building of St. Clare. Now some of the St. Gerard students continued to be involved by sponsoring a St. Clare student. Under the guidance of their teacher and advisor, Mrs. Jenny Sykes, the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) at St. Gerard has had several fundraisers to raise the funds needed to sponsor a child at St. Clare. These students, who are in the 8th grade raised money by selling popcorn, having a Pink Day, and sponsoring a jeans day at school.
Congratulations St. Gerard NJHS for being so generous and involved. As they say in Kenya, “Asante Sana” (thank you very much) for your giving spirit! You continue to be awe-inspiring.
(Mrs. Jenny Sykes, St. Gerard NJHS Moderator)
(Pictured are Sister Kathryn, two teachers, Mr. Onesmus and Mr. Muema, along with members of the ST. CLARION CALL editorial staff!)
The girls at St. Clare Centre have been busy working on creating a St. Clare Girls’ Centre publication. As a result of their hard work, they have crafted the ST. CLARION CALL, their very own magazine. This wonderful periodical contains photographs, articles, editorials, humor and many insights into life at St. Clare Centre for Girls. It must also be remembered that the oldest girls who developed the ST. CLARION CALL were only sophomores and that English is their THIRD LANGUAGE. Enjoy their inaugural edition by clicking on the link provided below. Their magazine is sure to enlighten, inform and even entertain you. GREAT JOB LADIES!
Click here to view and read the ST. CLARION CALL! st.clarion call_2011
Moira Keefer and Rosemary Pietras hosted a wine and cheese fundraiser at Moira’s home in Bloomfield Township, Michigan. The twenty-five women who attended enjoyed a wonderful evening of food and also information. They learned about the work of Father Riwa and his staff at St. Clare Girls’ Centre. A short history of St. Clare along with a brief report on the progress of Friends of Kenyan Orphans’ work there were presented by Sue Ozar, who noted that “They were a wonderful, interested audience.” Many of the guests had questions about the girls’ lives at St. Clare and what the future may hold for them. Moira and Mary Jo Johnson had a chance to share some of their impressions from their time spent at St. Clare last January.
Following the talk, a delicious meal was served. Thank you Moira and Rosemary for a most enjoyable and lovely evening.
As this work is completed, a foundation for the storeroom and generator is being dug and work on that part of the project continues