Good Shepherd Ministries in Kenya
Sisters in Slums (Meru and Embu). The Sisters accompany and help families living in very poor conditions Day Care (Kambakia and Kangeta) for orphan children, those on the streets or in danger to become street children, those ill treated and exploited in others ways, e.g. child prostitution, teenaged daughters and sons who never saw the door of a classroom… these Day Cares prepare them for Primary school. Under the Christian Child Care International (CCCI), Dispensary and Laboratory (Kangeta). We treat the common sickness: malaria, venereal diseases, urinary infections, worms and amoeba, wounds, pneumonia, upper respiratory tract infection, mumps, chicken pox, measles, eye and ear infections, burn cases, counseling for HIV, etc. Since 2004 we run a Mobile Clinic reaching out to the poor people in different remote areas of the Parish. Other pastoral activities include prison ministry, youth and school ministry (Embu), Bible services to the Prayer Houses of the Parish (Kangeta), presence in small Christian communities (Nairobi and Kambakia) and collaboration in liturgical celebrations.
Slums (Meru and Embu). The Sisters accompany and help families living in very poor conditionsIn these slums many mothers are sick with HIV and therefore weak. Many have died and others on the way. This has increased a lot of orphaned children – a big challenge and setback to our desires/goals: Where to keep/refer all the orphans in our apostolate? In respond to this need we have
Day Care (Kambakia and Kangeta) for orphan children, those on the streets or in danger to become street children, those ill treated and exploited in others ways, e.g. child prostitution, teenaged daughters and sons who never saw the door of a classroom… these Day Cares prepare them for Primary school. Under the Christian Child Care International (CCCI),
Dispensary and Laboratory (Kangeta). We treat the common sickness: malaria, venereal diseases, urinary infections, worms and amoeba, wounds, pneumonia, upper respiratory tract infection, mumps, chicken pox, measles, eye and ear infections, burn cases, counseling for HIV, etc. Since 2004 we run a Mobile Clinic reaching out to the poor people in different remote areas of the Parish.Crisis Centers (
Other pastoral activities include prison ministry, youth and school ministry (Embu), Bible services to the Prayer Houses of the Parish (Kangeta), presence in small Christian communities (Nairobi and Kambakia) and collaboration in liturgical celebrations.
OVERVIEW OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD IN KENYA
The Good Shepherd Sisters’ ministry to girls and women in distress in Kenya roots back in year 1985 when the sisters came through the invitation of Bishop emeritus Silas Njiru. The Unit of Kenya consists of 25 (inclusive of three missionaries) Sisters based in four Dioceses: Nairobi, Embu with one community each and one out-reach to Ngong diocese; Meru, where there are two communities - Kambakia and Kangeta; and Kitale, which is the newest community founded in the Western province of Kenya in August 1, 2008. The sisters were invited by Rev. Bishop Maurice Crowley in early 2008 to minister the poor in the slums of Kitale and to offer relief to the many Internally Displaced People (IDPs) who came into town following the 2008 post-election conflicts that devastated many towns in the Rift Valley and Western Provinces. In addition to the above, the Good Shepherd Ministries have 40 staff. They are qualified, competent and living according to the gospel values in serving the poor. They work in accordance to the labor law of the country. The ministries run in the five communities in Kenya include the following activities:
Day Care Centers and feeding programs for children;
Education Sponsorship programs for the poor children
Crisis Centers for distressed women;
Empowerment of women through community based organized groups
Vocational training Centers;
WE NOW HAVE AN OVERVIEW OF EACH COMMUNITY:
NAIROBI Euphrasia centre for women (Nairobi Archdiocese)
In Nairobi the "Euphrasia Center for Women" was founded in 1990 to offer hospitality and hope to many poor girls and women of the South B slum, especially adolescents and orphans, often victims of violence, prostitution and abuse. Today the community of Nairobi, similarly to the one of Embu, runs three main ministries: a crises center, a training center for women and income-generating project for women.
A good number of girls from both rich and poor families have benefited from the crisis center. It is a place of welcome and hope for distressed women and children in Kenyan society, however, the centers take care of women beyond Kenya: girls from as far as Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania have found refuge here.
In the past 19 years the center has offered as many as 1860 girls training courses to learn how to knit, weave, and tailor different products: necklaces, baskets, bags, tablecloths, clothes. These products are sold in the local market and through the international network of the Good Shepherd Sisters. With the proceeds of these handcrafting, sewing and weaving income-generating activities girls maintain their families and can send their children, brothers and sisters to school.
Thanks to these concrete results so many women in recent years have acquired security in themselves and become aware of their own value and dignity as human beings. Moreover, being able to generate an income many girls have managed to avoid arranged early marriages and gained economic independence. The activities carried out in this center have been very successful and over 70% of the women who have passed through this center have managed life positively. Their example is an important model for other girls who are victims of abuse and violence and for families who often choose not to invest their scarce resources in educating girls.
The more specific Euphrasian Kiondo Basket Weaving project begun in November 2007, in three locations where the GRS are working: in Nairobi, in Embu and in Kangeta -Meru. This project aimed at creating a sustainable source of income for the poorest women through three major activities: Skills Training, Production and Marketing of Basket Weaving. This project was intended for women of an age ranging from 18 to 60 yrs and all single mothers.
Before the women joined this project they were living in abject poverty in the slums or related surroundings. Most of them had been forced by circumstance and oppressive cultural practices to drop from school very young. They had been engaged in early marriages, (at times to old men equal their fathers), which often did not last long. They ended up being single mothers rejected also by their families. These women did not have a steady source of income. They earned their living through selling of illicit brews, drug trafficking or prostitution. Whatever income that came from these kind of activities was not steady and was too little even to provide the women with basic needs. Others had been living under oppression of cultural practices that do not value nor educate the girl child.
The specific activities carried out by the project were: Training 40 women and girls in traditional basket weaving skills annually; Integrate basket weaving with other life skills and spiritual formation; Establish a stable and competitive market for all baskets made by the trainees; Pay to trainees and later graduates 50% for every basket made and sold; Create social and economic support groups among trainees who will eventually run their own projects; Developing leaders among the trainees; Utilizing locally available materials
After 6 months of work in April 2008 the results reached included:
Ø 3 Centres fully operative after 4 months from project’s start-up
Ø 22 girls and women enrolled for the 1st of 6 months of training
Ø 130 baskets crafted by trainees and producers ready to be shipped
Ø 50 KES daily salary regularly paid to trainees since Dec 07-Jan 009
Ø 50% of retail price paid to producers working from home
In addition, basket weaving has brought about a new life of reconciliation, peace, new hope and discovery of deep inner self, wealth, power and freedom that the world cannot take away from the poor women. Euphrasian basket weaving is to a certain extent symbolic to women, as they connect threads and strings; they are also connecting with their own lives. As they learn new patterns of various baskets they also learn new ways to negotiate in life thus weaving entirety. More than handout and charity, the basket weaving has managed to put some income directly into hands of the poor Kenyan women, empowering them to take control of their own lives. These earnings are used for food, clothing, and school supplies for their children, health care and some personal savings. What was termed as luxury is now readily available and affordable. To buy a basket is to empower woman transform and take control of her life.
EMBU Community (Embu Diocese)
The Good Shepherd Sisters (RGS) were invited in the Diocese of Embu (Kenya) in 2000 by Bishop John Njue, the present Arch Bishop of Nairobi. The Bishop gave the Sisters a residential house and a separate building to develop their apostolate in Karurina village. The Home was opened in March 2000 and it was named Annunciation meaning “good news”. The Mission was founded to help both the women of the local rural community and from the Karurina and Shauri yako slums in Embu town and also women from all parts of Kenya who come to town with their families searching for “green pastures”. These women suffer from poverty, lack of education and a culture traditionally hostile to them. Many of them have experienced early pregnancies or abortions often as a consequence of rape or incest. It is when they are in towns searching for jobs that they unfortunately land into jobs which expose them to all kinds of risks. Others have run away from home due to separation of the parents.
The ministries carried out by the RGS in Embu are similar to the ones of Nairobi with a crisis and training centre that provide: counseling, temporary shelter, medical care, skills training, education programs against exploitation of women, home visitation, referral to other agencies, mother- child care, home management, out reach programs to the slums, rental houses, business skills, integration of the client to the family, sponsorship programs for those who have drooped out from school, micro-credit for small businesses. They also organize income-generating activities and they are one of the three centers where the Kiondo Basket Weaving project was implemented.
The Sisters have created a strong relationship with the women of the poorest districts, offering them the possibility to find work or start their own business, often organized in groups (Euphrasia working groups). Today, the local population can appreciate the results of the numerous income generating projects carried on by the women of the slums: breeding and sale of small farm animals and cultivation and sale of agricultural products, together with production and sale of crafts, such as bags, baskets and clothes sold through the Good Shepherd fair trade circuit.
In Kangeta a small village west of Nairobi, the Good shepherd sisters came through the invitation of Consolata Fathers in 1990. The Mission was created to respond to the needs of young girls in the area. Through home visits and surveys done in the area the sisters realized that the traditional culture discriminates against girls in accessing education and choosing their future. They found out that many teenage girls are un-educated and thus subjected to many dangers and situations which called for intervention and special attention. Many adolescents are forced into arranged marriages without having received even a basic level of education. This lack of awareness of their rights creates difficult family situations: girls widowed, left by husbands or forced to marry the brother, deprived of their inheritance and also driven from their families of origin. To tackle these problems an effort has been made to offer education, raise awareness in women’s rights and animation with the local community to enhance the role of women in society and within the family.
Therefore for the last 19 years, Good shepherd sisters have been running a vocational skills training center, the Rose Virginia Training Centre, for young girls who were not able to continue with their secondary school. In the Centre the sisters offer the girls training courses in dressmaking knitting and tailoring skills and in home management. In the framework of the income-generating activities, Kangeta is one of the three centers where the Kiondo Basket Weaving project is implemented. 30 girls graduate every year from the centre and with this new skill set, which enables them to be self reliant, 80% of them get jobs in the private sectors while others chose to start their own business.
The Skills Training is self reliant with little help from Good Shepherd Sisters in Ireland.
The Sisters additionally manage a Dispensary targeting poor women and children who are victims of many sicknesses, such as Malaria, Typhoid, Common Cold, Amoeba and HIV/ AIDS and who cannot afford proper medication. In the dispensary the sisters provide counseling services and health education for all, medication at an affordable price or for free for the very poorest people.
The Dispensary has received funding from Manus Unidas and the Hilton Fund from the USA especially for the mobile clinic that aims at reaching out to the poor of the poorest in the villages. There are also some local contributions coming from patients’ fees.
Finally the sisters run a Day Care Center for a total of 700 very poor children who cannot afford schooling even at a time when education in Kenya is expected to be free, because their parents cannot afford to pay for the school uniforms and the food requested from government schools. There are hundred children in the Day Care and 600 sponsored children in primary schools. The Day care is funded by Christian Child Care International (CCCI)- Canada and African Aid Trust Ireland.
On top of the other ministries the Kangeta, RGS have facilitated the links with European and American sponsors to support the costs of secondary education for some 65 girls, who, while attending the vocational training, had expressed their wish to go to secondary school. The sponsorship program will give the girls an opportunity to utilize their talents and gifts to the best of their ability; it will help the girls be financially stable, and uplift their standard of living; and last but not least it will fight against the negative attitude in the area towards girls’ education.
The Kambakia community runs a shelter home for disadvantaged girls who have no parents or relatives to support them with education and food. The shelter home provides a safe and secure place for their studies and where to live meaningfully. The shelter home provides temporary accommodation as the children have to integrate back in the family after school. There is a day care and sponsorship program for over 500 children from the slums and from low income families within Meru. Many poor children are benefiting from this project.
KITALE Community (Kitale Diocese)
Kitale is the newest community of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Kenya, which was founded in 2008, in response to the request of the Rev. Bishop Maurice Crowley to minister to the poor in the slums of Kitale and to offer relief to the many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who came to town following the 2008 post-election conflicts that devastated many towns in the Rift Valley and Western Kenya.
In Kitale there are ministries similar to the other communities including: a Crisis and Training centre targeting women and income generating activities, mainly through farming. But in addition, RGS run a Day Care and a sponsorship program for children to reach out to many other disadvantaged people in the community of Kitale and beyond.
The day-care feeding programme, that started in September 2008 aims at providing food daily to approximately 130 children of the Kipsongo slum, aged 5 to 15 years, who come from low income families, or live with single parents or are orphans. At the moment 80 are enrolled in the day care center and 50 have been admitted in the primary schools at different grades beginning in 2009: When the children come back from school each day, they are fed at the Day Care.
They receive beans and maize three times a week and ugali with vegetables two times a week. The day care center is staffed by two cooks who take care of preparing meals. Having a balanced meal improves dramatically the children living conditions, they become healthier and they are more motivated and focused in school. The Day Care therefore contributes to:
Ø Improving the health condition of the targeted Kipsongo children by decreasing their level of malnutrition and their death rates;
Ø Increasing the number of children from Kipsongo attending school
Ø Reducing the number of children living and begging in the streets
Ø Enhancing a positive attitude of the community towards education
Ø Reduced crime rate by at least 20% in the community
Ø Preventing early marriages for young girls.
Ø All in all contributing to fulfilling the Millennium Development Goal no. 5, reducing illiteracy in the community and improving its living standards.
The day care also provides clothes, basic health services and vaccinations and holistic care.
The new Shalom Farm project in Kitale
The Shalom Farm project has just been developed by the Kenya Unit and the Good Shepherd International Foundation for the Kitale community. The name SHALOM FARM came up as a result of the experience of the country’s 2007 political turmoil, which left a number of people dead and others in a state of hatred and resentment.
The SHALOM FARM is a multipurpose project including:
§ a Crisis Centre accommodating up to 20 particularly vulnerable women and children from the slum (single pregnant girls, women and children in HIV/AIDS) offering them accommodation, social and psychological support, medical and legal counseling, vocational training;
§ a Training Centre offering vocational training for the girls of the crisis centre and another 50 to 100 women from the slum on farming and food processing, providing them with very cheap food produced within the farm;
§ an income generating farming program which, in a few years will be able to include a significant number of women, offering them a stable source of income;
§ the products of the farm will be used to support the Day Care run by the Sisters in the slum providing daily meals to an average of 150 children.
During the first year (June 2009-June 2010) the project will mainly focus on the construction and equipment of:
In the same land, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd will create a crisis-center for young women and children who will benefit from the farm production (a part of the land shall be used to cultivate vegetables for the Community of Sisters who will staff the projects, the women and children living in the crisis-center, and the women working on the farm).