In the fall of 2015, our founder and director, Fr. Silouan (Brown) began thinking of ways that he could personally help the different Orthodox missions in Africa. He soon realized that many scams were operating out of that area, and it was difficult – if not impossible – for the average person to know which cries for help were legitimate and which were not.
It was in light of this realization that Fr. Silouan decided to contact an Orthodox mission in Kenya which had been previously visited by another Orthodox missionary. But what could he do to help?
Fr. Silouan knew he did not have the money to help personally, but he realized that, being in the United States, we are uniquely blessed to have certain resources that are not always readily available in Kenya: Computers, internet access, and other technological tools to help raise awareness for the missions in Africa.
Fr. Silouan decided that the best way he could help the missions was to help them tell their stories to the world by building a simple website. So he got together with a small team of volunteers, and the original Orthodox Africa website was built.
In the intervening year, the organization has grown beyond Fr. Silouan’s wildest dreams.
Fr. Silouan has traveled to Kenya and seen the baptisms of dozens of faithful children and adults, met with priests and their wives, given catechetical talks to children, assisted with feeding programs, and been part of the lives of these missions.
The African missions have solidified into a team in Kenya with a board of directors, and the American volunteers have increased and also solidified into a team led by a board of directors.
Orthodox Africa, USA is currently incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is seeking to recognition as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization by mid-2017.
Currently, we support five missions in Kenya: St. Barnabas Orphanage and School, St. Irene Orthodox Mission Center, St. Innocent Academy, Bishop Athanasius Secondary School and St. Tabitha House (Orphanage). We also support Annunciation Orthodox Church (ROCOR) on Bukasa Island in Uganda. It is our goal to help them achieve long-term sustainability in their missions.
ABOUT OUR LOGO
The original photo that became the design concept for our logo was taken during Fr. Silouan’s trip to Kenya. One of Fr. Silouan’s goddaughters placed her hand in his, and this photograph was taken. Fr. Silouan and his goddaughter say that this picture shows how “we are one body – different colors, different ethnic backgrounds, but we’re all one in Christ.”
This picture and the message it portrays – of our unity despite our differences – has become a rallying cry for us at Orthodox Africa. The love of Christ is universal, and our love for one another in our missions and teams is unique and special and bridges distance, economic, ethnic, and linguistic barriers and makes us the family that we are. We are one in Christ – one body, and one family, united by the love of Christ, the Church, and the children we support.