Step into the Gap: Ken’ya believe it…….what a welcome!

The three musketeers loaded down with luggage at Heathrow


Rachel and Jon admiring the set of wheels (at Heathrow Airport) they can only dream of travelling in while in Kenya

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.

Jon’s fancy new flip flops


This is our 'washing machine' in Karen! Jon practising his hand washing techniques.

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!

This is the life!

 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.

Outside the Church in Karen, Our Lady of Peace, with Dorothy, on the left, and Sr Josephine, far right

 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 at the convent in Karen

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.

15 thoughts on “Step into the Gap: Ken’ya believe it…….what a welcome!

  1. JEALOUS!! Mzungu! They use this in Uganda too! 🙂 Hope you are having a very fulfilling time out there guys!

    P.S Nice Flip Flops Jon!

  2. Jonathan, you look like you are enjoying the trip a great deal! I am so glad you are! I can not wait to show Year 5 at CTK, this blog. The images and diary notes are a perfect update for them, please keep them coming. Best of luck for the rest of the visit – send our love to Rosa!

  3. I surprised at cacophony at Mass – Africans usually sing far better than their white counterparts! In Zam – thet were not allowed to dance until after Communion!
    When we were in Egypt last week; we learned that there are plans to hold back Nile water in the states through which it flows mainly Ethiopia. This could well have an effect on the aquifers further South
    Good on you kids – Africa needs to be given more!

  4. Good to hear the journey got off to a good start, prayers for you all. Keep the news coming of places visited I am with you in Spirit at least. Sigh!!

  5. Wow! What a fantastic response from you all. So glad you’re enjoying the blog. we’re loving Kenya – people so warm, and CAFOD doing amazing things here. Lots of challenges, but also lots of positives too.

    Keep watching the blog – so much for us to tell! Love to all : ) xxxx
    Rosa, Jon and Rachel

    PS Jon’s just jumped at the gecko running up the wall…. : ) !

  6. We are very jealous of the sunshine over there! Glad you are enjoying the adventure even though its hard work. Sorry Jon missed the Blackpool – United match as it was an epic, despite the result.
    Watch out for the goats they’ll eat anything!!!!
    God bless you all and keep you safe.

  7. What a wonderful introduction to your first few days, wish we could adopt some of those mass practices over here in the UK!

    Looking forward to hearing more 🙂
    Francesca x

  8. Hey Rachie and Jon!
    Looks like you’ve settled in really well and have already experienced so much! Looking forward to the next installment!
    Take care both of you, love Gem xx

  9. Hiya!!!

    Wooowww… it all sounds soooo wonderful! How nice that they had rain when you arrived too! Take care of yourselves and each other – ace to read the lovely blog – there in spirit too!!!!

    God bless,

    Gemma Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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