Posts Tagged ‘St. Clare’s Centre’
One of the highlights of Father Riwa’s Gratitude Tour was to spend an evening with the many volunteers who do the committee, board and administrative work for Friends of Kenyan orphans. These people give of their time and resources to assure that the children in Kenya receive the care and education they need. Doctors Gerard Martin and Cathy Nordby (pictured above) hosted the evening in the home, which included a meal for all who attended. Since everyone there is very familiar with the Miracle of St. Clare, there was no format presentation. It was a relaxed evening to spend time with Father and to exchange stories and experiences.
Father Riwa enjoyed participating in Halloween trick or treat with Kevin Ozar and his daughters, Kate and Lily. In addition to dressing up in a gorilla suit, gathering candy to take to the children in the Children’s Village, Father was most impressed to learn the origin of Halloween, people dressing up in scary costumes on the eve of All Saints’ Day in an effort to chase away the evil spirits before celebrating the feast.
Father Riwa, Kevin, Kate and Lily are pictured above. The other scary creature is Bud Ozar.
Bud and Sue Ozar have been making presentations to many of the Rotary Clubs in the Detroit area where they have been warmly welcomed and supported. Many of the Rotary Clubs, along with various individual members, have made donations to St. Clare and/or have become sponsors of a girl. However, the Grosse Ile [French for “Large Island”] Rotary Club has gone above and beyond. In addition to many Grosse Ile Rotary individual members donating and four individual members becoming sponsors, the club itself will sponsor two girls at St. Clare. Further, the Grosse Ile Rotary also made a monetary donation to St. Clare. President Bambang Soedarjatno feels this may be the beginning of a long relationship between St. Clare and the Grosse Ile Rotary.
We continue to hear two more stories from girls who left Eldoret in Western Kenya to come to the safety and security of St. Clare Centre.
Patricia (not her real name), age 12, is from Eldoret in western Kenya. When the post election violence of 2007 broke out, Sarah was told by her parents to stay in the house with her brother as there was fighting and killing happening right outside her home. The two children did as their parents said. Patricia explained “After that our parents disappeared and I never saw them again. I don’t know remember how it happened, but the next thing I knew I was in a hospital in Nanyuki in eastern Kenya. My grandmother was there. I lived with my grandmother for a few years, but we were so poor that there was no food for us. In 2011 I came to St Clare with some other girls from Eldoret. “ Bernadette reported, “I am doing well here and am very happy at St Clare.”
Bernadette (not her real name) is 15 and from Eldoret in western Kenya. Since her parents died when she was quite young, Bernadette lived with an uncle with whom she was living when the post election violence erupted in 2007. “My uncle and I were forced to move to the ‘tent area’ by the police for safety. For three years I lived in thiscamp. On many days we had no food. It was dirty and cold and I slept on a mat on the tent floor. I never went to school because school was only for the youngest children. It was a very sad life.” When Bernadette spoke of her life now at St Clare she lit up saying, “Now I am at St Clare where I have a good school, good food, good friends and a wonderful life.”
St Clare Girls Centre has also received several girls from Eldoret in western Kenya. Eldoret is home to several IDP (internally displaced persons) camps. Several girls from Eldoret shared their stories with me.
Teresa (not her real name) age 12 is from Eldoret in western Kenya. At a young age she was orphaned so Teresa lived with her sister and grandfather. They were very poor. So Teresa spent her days carrying water and tending sheep. When the post election violence of 2007 broke out, Teresa witnessed incredible destruction: homes were burned, people were beheaded and then burned to death. When she, her sister and grandfather escaped, they were taken by the police to a government camp for safety where Teresa lived for three years. She recalls, “I slept on a mattress with my sister. The place was very dirty. There were many people but never enough food. There were no good schools.” Father Riwa came to the government camp to bring several girls to St Clare. Teresa continues “Now I am St Clare, a very good school. I can learn here and there is enough food and I am never sick. I have many friends and I am very happy!”
Sarah (not her real name) is 11 years old. She too originally lived in Eldoret. During the post election violence of 2007 her mother and father were both burned to death in their home. Sarah remembers, “I ran away to a garden by myself and then went to my aunt’s house. My aunt was very poor so could not feed me much or prepare me for school but I helped out. Then I was brought to St Clare three years ago. I like St Clare very much, because they take good care of me and here I have friends and plenty to eat.”
St Clare Girls Centre continues to receive young girls from all over Kenya. During my last visit to St Clare in February and March 2012, I again had the opportunity and privilege to speak with several young girls from different villages and cities in Kenya. They shared their stories and again I was amazed and inspired by the incredible courage and resilience of these young women.
We begin with two girls from Kibera. Kibera is located near Nairobi,and is the largest slum in Africa. The living conditions there are horrible with sewage strewn through the streets. The children in Kibera wear only tattered clothing, have no shoes, and have not bathed in some time. The area is characterized by a terrible stench, and mud and more mud.
Mary (not her real name) age 14 came to St Clare from Kibera, a slum outside of Nairobi, where she lived with her grandmother in a tin hut after both of her parents died. She recalls that there was no plumbing, waste was thrown on the streets and there was little food. “In order to assist my grandmother with a few shillings, I washed people’s clothes. If I made an error in my work, I was often beaten by these people.” Sister Marianna, an Italian sister living and working with the slum people, rescued Mary. Mary continues “ I know if Sister had not brought me to St. Clare I would have been raped in the slum.” Nancy is very happy at St Clare where she loves to dance, study and spend time with the other girls. “When my education is complete, I want to return to Kibera where I will build a school for other slum girls.”
Elizabeth (not her real name) is 13 years old and spent her young years also living in the Nairobi slum of Kibera. She too was rescued by Sister Marianna who lives and works there with the slum dwellers. Cynthia recounts “My father was a gangster who was murdered and my mother became very stressed out so could not care for me. I was left all alone with only my aunt who tried to care for me. My aunt also was a slum dweller who had no work. There was really no one to help me but I was blessed as Sister Marianna knew of St Clare and brought me here where I am so happy to have friends and a very good school.”
Because of recent violence near St. Clare, Fr. Riwa contacted the Kenyan chief of police and asked for protection for the 850 children in his care. To his surprise, the chief appointed Sergeant Susan to the Children’s Village, which became her permanent post. Susan is a member of the Samburu tribe, where Fr. Riwa first worked as a young priest, so she was aware of Fr. Riwa and his work. Further, Susan is a veteran police officer and has served in many capacities.
One would never know how tough Susan is when first meeting her, as she is warm and affable. However, several weeks ago a small group of young men jumped over the wall and stole mangoes. Before they could get away, Susan had arrested them and taken them to the nearest police station. When asked why she was so severe Susan replied: “They were trespassing on private property today and that is against the law. I want the word to go out this is not permissible. It is mangoes today, but what could it be tomorrow? It is my duty to protect these children and I will!”
So the word is out. DO NOT MESS WITH SUSAN!
The science labs at St. Clare Centre are almost finished and ready for us. Begun six months ago with funding from the Tom and Carol Cracchiolo family, two rooms in the parish dispensary were converted into science labs for the girls at St. Clare. These rooms are located next to St. Clare and will give the girls a chance to put into practice what they are learning in their classrooms. Most important, the girls will not develop the scientific background needed to pursue professional careers which demand backgrounds in science.
(The photos to the right and the left show the early work on the labs. The center photo shows one of the nearly completed science labs.)
On February 20, 2012, Bud and Sue Ozar were in the middle of their annual visit to St. Clare and St. Francis schools. Curious to know how the students viewed them, Sister Kathryn, one of the Adrian Dominican sisters living and working at St. Clare, asked this question of the photo- journalism class, a class composed of Form Two (sophomore) and Form Three (junior) girls:
“How has the Mission of Madam Sue and Mr. Bud Ozar influenced my life?”
Here are some of their answers.
“Where would some of the girls be if it were not for our benefactors like Mr. and Mrs. Ozar? Many would be suffering in the streets. These “guys” are full of life.”
“Whenever I see Madam Sue and Mr. Bud, I feel peace around me because they are the people who think of me. They leave their home, not to come as tourists, but to come and ensure that I have quality education, good shelter, am fully dressed and that my dreams are fulfilled. They are doing this for us not expecting no repayment from anybody, except Almighty God. I wish that when I grow up I could go to America and take care of them in their very old age.”
“When I grow up I would like to help street children, orphans and needy children. I always ask God to help me to have the heart for helping others. I am looking forward to following in the footsteps of Md. Sue and Mr. Bud.”
“I have thought of giving them a title. I did research, wrote poems, and read other books. The best title I could give them is from the set book The River Between by Ngugi Klataiongo and that title is ‘SAVIORS’”.
“St. Clare has not only helped me but the lives of hundreds of people. Truly my life is changed. At least I can see a future ahead of me, a life full of happiness and hope. Perhaps Md. Sue and Mr. Bud were sent into my life as my ‘saviors’”.
“Their mission has really influenced my life in that I wish to serve the poor when I complete my studies. When I have a profession and a paying job I plan to use some of my earnings to help St. Clare. I will support St. Clare the best that I can.”
“Md. Sue and Mr. Bud actually came to Kenya as missionaries. Their mission was to support and uplift the life of street children and the orphans who are really mistreated and despised by everybody. They have fully dedicated their lives to serving the needy children.”
“All that I can say about them is that they are heaven sent to help us to get out of poverty. It is only a person with faith, hope determination, love and a person who has a call from God who can do all that they have done and are still doing for us.”
“I wish one day, one time in life, that I will be like them and help people like me who are really in need. They help us so that we can be the messengers of tomorrow to help others.”
“Since I came to St. Clare in the year 2006, my life has really become better. A lot of support from this couple, like building our classrooms has provided a good environment that has enhanced learning. I wonder how I would be, what kind of a person I would be if I were not at St. Clare. Maybe I would be in the street, a school dropout.”
Mr. Mgobo, the chief engineer in charge of the building at St. Clare Centre, has sent the following report regarding the ongoing construction at St. Clare. Two postings (work on the septic system and work on the perimeter wall) will appear in upcoming posts.
- Graveling work complete.
- Maaram work complete.
- Reinforcement materials delivered.
- Ballast, sand and cement delivery in progress.
- Concrete work scheduled to start on 14 April 2012.
GROUND FLOOR ~
- Tiling work going on- 5 classrooms tiled.
- Sanitation drainage being improved.
2nd FLOOR SANITATION~
- Drainage system 99% complete.
- Drainpipes added per recommendations.
- Scheduled to be commissioned April 2012.
- Remaining incomplete roof being worked on.
- Tiling complete.
- Toilet and bathroom drainage complete.
- Working on procurement of rubber paint.
- Cloth lines to be put up on April 28-2012.
- Fresh water pipes installed.