Posts Tagged ‘girls’
This is the final set of stories from the girls themselves. St. Clare Centre is home to girls from Meru, a city located in north central Kenya, and Nchiru, a small village near Meru,
Deborah (not her real name) age 14 has been in St Clare for 3 years. She came to St Clare from the Meru area where she was an orphan who lived with her grandmother, who also cared for several of Deborah’s siblings and cousins. “We were very poor so I seldom was able to go to school. Instead I stayed to help Grandmother with the other children by carrying wood and water. It was hard work. I wanted to go to school, but could not.” A neighbor who heard of St Clare from Father Riwa persuaded Deborah’s grandmother to allow Deborah to go to live at St Clare. Deborah continues,” I love school where I am learning and sharing ideas with the other girls. This is a loving community. Now I am in class 7 and doing quite well.”
Ruth (not her real name)is 15 and one of the original students of St Clare. She came in 2006 from Nchiru where she lived with her grandmother. Ruth recalls,” My father died from being poisoned and my mother was sickly so my grandmother tried to care for me. In the beginning we were day students who returned home in the evening. We had no dining room and no classroom, so we ate and studied under the mango tree. I was grateful to be here at St Clare. Now my grandmother wants me to return to the village and be married. I want to stay here where I have my studies, my friends and I am safe.”
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.
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.
Marilyn and John Parker have been coming to Kenya for many years, volunteering their talents for several months each year. Last year while traveling on the other side of Mount Kenya they discovered Jane and her brother and brought them to Fr. Riwa. To support them, they found sponsors among their friends in Connecticut. At St. Clare it was discovered Jane had a severe limp caused by a birth defect, but a defect which surgery could correct. This year Marilyn and John returned to Kenya and they brought the $400 necessary for the surgery. Jane is pictured here in the courtyard of St. Clare on her crutches. The surgery was a successand now the focus is on her healing. Thanks John and Marilyn.
Sr. Kathryn Cliatt, OP is one of the four sisters at St. Clare. She wrote this account.
“Two other girls were brought down from Samburu from the Masan 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 andone 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.”
This article was written by Beatrice who is an older girl in Form II and a big sister to the younger children, as you see her her with Judy, the youngest 4 year old. After many years at St. Clare, Beatrice offers her insights on how love binds them together as a family.
AT ST. CLARE, WE LIVE IN LOVE (BEATRICE)
At St Clare Girls’ Centre, we all observe the greatest commandment given to us by God, which is love. For we know in love you canachieve more from others as long as you live in this world. This is why at St Clare there are about twenty different tribes but as long as we are together we speak one language. So we are able to understand one another. We are as one family united by Jesus Christ through a great messenger who is the father and mother of the St Clare children, Father Francis.
In St Clare because of love, no one is considered higher than the other one; we are all equal as one family united by Jesus Christ. As a family we do everything together. We all jog in the morning as one family. The nutrition is the same amaranth and bread for we believe in natural food. After classes we usually have sport, both teachers and pupils, and everybody normally participates fully without being forced for we know through exercises we are able to keep ourselves fit and our muscles relaxed.
For many reasons being from the poor backgrounds of the children at St Clare, we need to show love to one another. There are different kinds of children who really need to be taught how to carry themselves for since they were little they have never had their parents to teach them and bring them up in a good way. When they come to St Clare, they find love among the people in the environment and they take the people in authority as their parents.
Because of love shown at St Clare children grow and are never sad. They are always shining and happy for they lack nothing and they never think of any evil things or flashback to the problems they had undergone before. This makes St. Clare a small heaven for it is where many children from different parts of Kenya find happiness when their parents die and their relatives reject them, the same way Jesus was rejected by his people.
OUR YOUNGEST SISTER IN ST. CLARE GIRLS’ CENTER
Have you ever seen a short girl like Zachaeus, who climbed a tree very fast like a monkey to see Jesus? She is the one at our center. Her name is Judy and she is five years old.
I hope those of you who are reading this story know the color of charcoal. Her hair is black in color like that of charcoal. It might be longer than yours or mine. On her two cheeks two dimples appear smartly while she is laughing. This one, our last-born is a rabbit (which means in our culture cleaver or fast in thinking.) Wow! She is brown like chocolate.
She likes to have a personal bag in which to put her raiment’s and ornaments, to avoid throwing them all over. She knows she will get into trouble if she is careless with her things and that headmistress does not entertain such nonsense. She must be an organized girl. She also likes to have a toy and some teddy bears to sleep with. Maybe they are cute and gentle to her. Who knows?
Judy has many friends at school who are a lot of fun to be with. This is why she enjoys it here so much. Her friends include Glory, Twili, and Pamela. Sometimes they enjoy playing hide and seek, her favorite game. Her class teacher, Madam Tabitha, takes are of her in class and likes to be with her. Judy respects Millicent, one of the older girls who is her raiment’s’ keeper (a raiment’s keeper is one who takes care of her clothing and does her laundry).
She is a nursery pupil at St. Clare Girls’ Center. It is located at Nchiru, Meru in the Eastern Province of Kenya. Even though it is “ushambni” (rural area) it is nonetheless beautiful with many classrooms, a well, a big water tank and enough toilets, a big dining hall with clean running water for washing hands before and after eating. There are three cooks who prepare porridge, lunch and mouth watering supper every day.
Finally, Judy wishes to be as famous and as rich as Father Limo Riwa, our director! I like her smiling face, and that is nearly always what I see. May God bless her and may she grow up with the same wonderful spirit that she has now.
5TH FEBRUARY 2011
By Mr. Ken
A teacher at St Clare Girls’ Center
From the look of things, it appeared to be an ordinary Saturday evening. Glamorous faces of children running helter skelter, expectant of a fun-filled weekend. Life out of class Indeed! The compound had scattered small groups of four to six girls that could be seen playing different games. Some were throwing pebbles in the air and anxiously waiting for them to come down as the harsh force of gravity pulled the pebbles down into the hands of the participants. Wonders were busy in their “bee-hive activities”. Teachers were pacing up and down in a relaxed manner, informally relating to the wonderful populace of girls from St. Clare. The principal’s voice could be heard now and then, requesting final touches on this or that. To crown it all, changes were established on people’s faces when Fr. Riwa “militarily” appeared. A wind of excitement blew across the school compound. From afar, Mr. Muema, the catechist, could be seen finalizing the yet-to-be-baptized. He had even suspended his glasses on his stripped brown new t-shirt, since possibly they were giving them a blurred view,
A heightened length of excitement however, came to an end when a whisper blew across that it was time to assemble in the Chapel. We all queued to gain access to the blue painted chapel doors. One by one, we entered like animals being escorted to an abattoir, in fact meek sheep. And yes we are, for the Lord is our shepherd! We silently took places in chapel. Teachers took rear seats while students occupied the front seats. Singing took over next, but the songs were cut short by the presence of the father and his alter assistants. The chapel suddenly turned mute. It maintained its good looks with clean well spread covers. Father and his aides majestically marched in.
Ever intriguing, Fr. Riwa began by an explanation for the delay. He later led prayers the Catholic way. Slight movements of the altar assistants in their sparkling white robes were barely noticeable. Baptismal godparents were then requested to occupy front-most seats for convenience. Names of participants to be baptized were then called and they all trickled to the front. Meanwhile, singing was on a crescendo. It was however stopped for the stage to be set.
Not to forget the jaunty American Sisters were present. Full of life and warmly fitted in the congregation, I personally admired the zeal with which they clapped to a time of Swahili songs. In fact, Sister Kathryn was among the baptismal godparents. Jovial and composed she looked.
The Mass was carried out with a lot of energy. Questions were asked here and there as the congregation looked on and would once in a while be involved. Dusk didn’t steal away Father Riwa’s sight. As the message of the day boiled down into the congregations’ mind, he was passing on the light to the innocent girls. Candles were symbolic light for the girls to henceforth light the world with good deeds and character. The Word of God was deeply touching for me. Colorful snapshots from our journalists added to the décor.
Though we had waited for the Mass, it was worth it. At least this bearded man of God had satisfactorily fed us spiritually. Surely. White hair and more so a white beard is a sign of wisdom as the Meruans say. Fr. Riwa proved this. What a day.
Mr. Ken is a new teacher at St. Clare, He began in January 2011 and brings much enthusiasm to his classes.