Day One – Nairobi
We arrived in Karen, near Nairobi, early on Saturday morning, 22nd January. We are staying in a beautiful house belonging to the Religious Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Sr. Josephine and Sr. Joanne live here, and Sr. Josephine’s younger sister Dorothy is staying here for a while. It is full of tranquillity, and I’m sure when we spend more time in Nairobi we will be grateful for this restful place to come back to.
Yesterday we had a delicious lunch, (in Kenya the main meal is at lunchtime), full of ‘Irish’ mashed potatoes, home-grown spinach, and ice-cream and mangoes for desert! It was like an African Sunday dinner. We felt so welcome with such a feast, but despite our persistent offers to help, we were told that that’s the African style- to be waited upon the first day you arrive, but after that it’s your job to help out!
We’ve only been in Kenya for a day, but this morning we went to a Kenyan Mass- how wonderful! The Congregation truly knew how to put the ‘celebration’ into the Eucharist, we had a party! The Church echoed with singing and dancing and praying… it was amazing to hear such a cacophony of African voices and traditional chants. It was refreshing to see people expressing their faith through animation and joy, so much more lively than many Churches in England.
Later we’re heading about 4 hours west of here to Kitui, to visit some Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) programmes, and to talk to communities affected by climate change. I’ve sensed that people here know full-well how the changing climate is affecting the environment, for instance Sr. Joanne told me how the drought and wide use of GM chemicals have disturbed the natural ripening patterns of fruit. I’ve realised that there’s such a difference between campaigning for climate justice based on mere facts, and talking to individual people – catching a glimpse of understanding about how vulnerable it makes them.
‘Wishes for Rain’
Day Two – Kitui
As soon as we arrived in Kitui, we were greeted by a crowd of eager children running to the car asking, “How are you?” over and over, so excited to see muzungu, white people. It’s quite a rural area, making it feel and smell quite distinctive to Nairobi. “You’ve brought blessings with you”, Sofia, one of CAFOD’s partners who works for Development in the Kitui Diocese, warmly greeted us. “It has been raining, you should come more often!”
We have settled in well here already, and had another lovely meal, and I tried ugali (maize) and sukumawiki (greens- it literally means ‘push the week’). Just before we tucked in, we were informed that on the table next to us in the restaurant sat the Archbishop of Mombasa, Boniface M. Lele. We were introduced and he told us how much he admired CAFOD’s work, and he has been working on the ground in a HIV and AIDS project for many years with CAFOD. He even invited us to Mombasa, but I don’t think we can fit it into the busy schedule. It was a delight to meet him, he was so humble, and it made me feel proud to be part of CAFOD.
Bye for now, best have a good rest before we start our work tomorrow.
Rachel and Jon left for Kenya in January, accompanied by Rosa Trelfa, CAFOD Lancaster Diocesan Manager, for the overseas part of their Step into the Gap year with CAFOD. Over the course of the next four weeks, they will be visiting various CAFOD programmes and if you’d like to keep track of their progress, you can follow it all here.