Progress at St. Innocent Academy

St. Innocent Academy has seen much progress in the last few weeks! Glory to God!

Through the hard work of many people, the concrete floors in the classrooms are complete.  Now the staffroom is under construction with concrete floors being laid also.

Our school students are studying hard.

From ages 2 to 5 years, children are taught the very basics; what their name is, writing numbers, how to correctly hold a pencil, learning the alphabet and the sounds associated with each letter and singing.

Children in lower elementary school, Standard 1 to 3, follow a curriculum called Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE).  They are taught the basics of how to read, write, memorize and dictation.

The Standard 4 and 5 students study the same subjects according to the Kenyan elementary schools, which includes English, Mathematics, Religious Studies, Social Studies and Kiswahili (also known as Swahili, the Bantu language, the first language of the Swahili people).

The Standard 4 and 5 students recently took their mid-term examinations, of which there were two.  Despite numerous challenges, they emerged among the best pupils in the zone.  Overall, they ranked 4th among the best schools. Everyone is very proud of them and their achievement. The teachers are happy for the good grades their pupils are getting because of their sacrifice and dedication to their studies.  They are pledging that at the end-of-term examination they will emerge the best through the prayers of the Patron Saint of our academy, Saint Innocent.

Please join us in that prayer!

 

Rainforest

“Quick! Bukasa Island! What comes to mind?”

Rain forest

The sound of blessed silence. Monkeys quietly chittering. Parrots cawing somewhere in a far away tree. The wind as it rustles through the trees. Holy silence. This monastic silence was quite welcome.

It gives one a deep joy to float to the middle of Lake Victoria to see, out of seemingly impenetrable rainforest, a Russian onion dome appear over the top of the trees. In this unforgiving land where there are no modern conveniences, for the last 32 years Orthodox faithful have built a church, one rock at a time. Even at times carrying those rocks on their – several kilometers – one rock at a time. This church has truly been built on the Rock of Christ as evidenced by the slow, painful obedience and faith that these Orthodox people and priest have shown as together they raise a great Light to dispell the dark cloud of animistic paganism.

This joy permeated my heart through my fever ridden time due to malaria. Though difficult, it is good to have the pride of body broken. Thanks be to God for the doctor from another island who confirmed everyone’s suspicions and recommend treatment. Thanks be to God for those who helped care for me during the time of illness. By everyone’s prayers I managed my way through Divine Liturgy on Sunday.

My time with Fr. Christopher and Matushka Maria Walusimbi, and the faithful of Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church comes to an end. It has been a blessed time. Fr. Christopher was in tears when I told him of the support and love from all of the faithful supporters of Orthodox Africa.

Let’s join these faithful people, letting them know they are not alone in their prayer and ministry on Bukasa Island, Lake Victoria, Uganda. Join me and put your hands on the lighthouse that shines a spiritual light to many generations of people who have been born under the demonic cloud of pagan darkness.

Read about Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church here. Donate to Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church here.

~Fr. Silouan

Concrete Flooring Being Installed

St. Innocent Academy’s plea for help has been answered.  Glory to God!

In the May 9, 2017 article Seven Floors for Seven Classrooms, readers learned of the need for concrete floors to prevent jigger infections in the feet of students and responded to the call.  Enough donations have been received so that concrete has been purchased and two of seven floors have been installed.

The remaining classrooms are in process of receiving concrete floors.  The anticipated completion date is the end of June.

In the mean time, students are meeting outside of the classroom while the floors are being laid.

Thank you to each person who donated to this project.  It is much appreciated!

The Globe-trotting Director

Father Silouan and the Vicar General, Fr. Barnabas, visited Saint Innocent School Wednesday, June 7, 2017.   Father Jonah said, “I am humbled and appreciate the great donations of text books and two soccer balls. We also received enough money to finish cementing the floors of the five remaining classrooms and add doors to the school. Father Silouan spoke with teachers and the Board of Management.  He was pleased to see great changes in the Centre and especially among the children! We thank His Grace for His blessings and donation towards the lunch programme for the day!”  The most important thing Father Jonah spoke of was his discovery that “when we unite together, we are able to go far!”  This, dear friends of Orthodox Africa, is the living out of our purpose and mission.  They met the owner of a playground who wants to sell it to the school ($4000). A promise was given to purchase it in the near future.

Father Silouan also presented them with some relics of Saint Gregory the Great.

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On June 1, 2017 (Thursday) Father Silouan had a wonderful afternoon with Bishop Athanasius (Akunda), his Secretary General and several other area priests at Bishop Athanasius Secondary School.  Father Silouan presented the school with $500 for textbooks.  Currently four children share one text book. More textbooks means less children need to share, allowing each child to study more easily.  He said, “On behalf of all the people served here, thank you.  May God bless your efforts.”

Alot of cheers, dance and fun in welcoming Bishop Athanasius of Kisumu at Bishop Athanasius sec school Mugen.

Posted by Amadiva Athanasios on Friday, June 9, 2017

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Father Agapios, Director of St. Tabitha House, took Father Silouan on a tour of the Kiberia slums Outside Nairobi, Kenya to visit some of the local residents and learn more about them.

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Most recently Father Silouan traveled by overnight bus to Uganda.  After being met at the bus station by Basil Walusimbi, Father Silouan met Father Christopher Walusimbi, rector of Annunciation Orthodox Church (read about the church here) in Kampala where they will be meeting His Eminence, Met. Jonah of Kampala and many other local Orthodox Christians.  Thursday he is scheduled to go to Bukasa Island. He will be spending approximately 5 days with Father Christopher and his wife, Maria, greeting parishioners, touring the island and assessing the needs of this blessed mission church.

Stay tuned for upcoming presentations about our work in Kharkov, Ukraine and Moscow, Russia!

Essays Written by one of the Kibera Orphans for Saint Tabitha’s

BELONGING TO THE “WRONG TRIBE”

Welcome to Kenya. It is a country known for its popular saying “KARIBU KENYA HAKUNA MATATA,” which means WELCOME TO KENYA LAND OF PEACE. It’s a country which has 47 counties and 42 tribes. These 42 tribes go through discrimination. They don’t appreciate each others’ community.

Other communities do female genital mutilation (F.G.M), which to them is growing to womanhood and without this your not considered a woman. This is very dangerous because a girl can bleed to death. She can also have problems when giving birth. These practices where practiced a long time ago before Christianity was introduced in Kenya.

What still bothers the government, church elders and the community-at-large is that there are people who still practice FGM today.

This practice is forbidden, and thus they do it in the mountains. Some of the girls are forced to be circumcised. They are deprived of their dignity and their self-esteem. They’re the talk of the town and they are usually discriminated against due to BELONGING IN THE WRONG TRIBE.

When these girls get pregnant and go to give birth in hospital, the doctors have a hard time assisting them. When they give birth they have two options:
1.To die and leave their young ones or vice versa
2.Remain the talk of many

The community itself knows it’s a crime so they do it in the shadows at the top of the mountain where no one will see them. After this the girls are married off to older men who could be their father’s age. They are deprived of their dreams and their future is wasted. They’re put at the risk of giving birth at a tender age which they might even lose their lives.

This is the painful part of “BELONGING TO THE WRONG TRIBE,” where you are forced to undergo through some rituals…where shame and regret are your shadow.

The question is: HOW MANY GIRLS DIE AND THEIR FUTURES AND DREAMS WASTED DUE TO “BELONGING IN THE WRONG TRIBE”???!!

– Mary Wamboi

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PAINFUL TEARS

As you can see in these pictures, children and families going through a tough time. Some of the families can’t even afford a meal and medical care…they live a single room which is congested.

Other children are called “CHILDREN OF A LESSER god” due to the struggles they go through. They have PAINFUL TEARS, which no one is willing to wipe. They don’t have anyone to give them a shoulder to lean on. Their futures and dreams only remain beautiful dreams – never to be achieved.

They can’t afford their school fees. Some of the children’s parent’s died during the post-election violence, others through HIV/AIDS. The children had to be adopted and others ran to the streets…KIBERA being the largest slum in Africa holds children with dreams which cannot be fulfilled without my help and your help. Don’t deny them this opportunity. Think that it was your on child who went through all this…think how it’s painful for a child less than 10 years, roaming in the streets all by himself – all the dangers surrounding the child. You’ve got all the help they need, yet your wasting the resources.

Father Agapios [Director of St. Tabitha House, an Orthodox Christian orphanage] has set an example by taking in some of the children and helping them achieve their dreams. Father Silouan is also highly appreciated for the support and encouragement he gives the young ones. If they have served as an example, why don’t you also join this journey and make a difference in these children’s lives?

Always remember that God gave you those resources for free. Why don’t you also give them freely?  [Donate here.]

– Mary Wamboi

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The rough streets of the Kibera slums still show on the faces of the kids Father Agapios and his wife Pappadia Dora have brought under their care.

Just as the Light of Illumination shines on the faces of the newly Baptized, Michelle and Raphael, so does the sun shine on the faces of the other children suggesting the promise of healing and a new hope for those who have previously known nothing but the most abject poverty and misery most of us can only begin to comprehend.

– Father Silouan

“Enlarging the Land” Benefits All

The benefits of owning land far outweigh the benefits of not.  Currently, St. Irene’s Orthodox Mission Center pays rent for the small portion of land they use.  The structures in which the children learn and live are constructed for temporary usage.  Water must be brought in.

It would allow the Mission Center to put a solid roof on each building rather than the current tin.  When it rains, the sound of it hitting the tin is quite loud.  That kind of atmosphere is not conducive to a good learning environment and is quite distracting.  Teachers must raise their voices to be heard, if they can be heard at all.  Children cannot think clearly for the pounding above their heads.  As Fr. Silouan said, “A solid roof would immensely improve the learning environment.”

Dormitories can be built for the children to live in and a residential area for guests are included in the plans.  A well can be dug to provide water!

Most importantly, it will bring about the sense of permanency, something these children do not have in their lives now.  With joint ownership between the Archdiocese and Orthodox Africa, the parish would remain intact should the priest be transferred to serve another parish.  This ensures the children a permanent home and education center until adulthood.

To donate to this worthy cause, please click here and be redirected to the donation page.

Tour the property with Fr. Constantinos, the Director of St. Irene’s Mission Center and Father Silouan, the Director of Orthodox Africa.

St. Irene Mission Center: Enlarging the Land

St. Irene Orthodox Mission Center is an institution that supports orphans and vulnerable children. It was started in the year 2010 by Father Constantinos and Papadhia Teresa, who have played a great role since its inception up to date. It started from a humble single room which was used as a classroom; as well as a church, and for catechism lessons. After a period of seven years of struggle, the Mission now consists of 96 children.

One of the major challenges of this Mission, is land. Father Constantinos indicates that it has not been able to purchase land of its own; and that rent is very expensive. Lack of land restricts the Mission from building permanent structures, and drilling wells, for its orphans. These items are desperately needed to better care for the children.

   

Fortunately, the land where the mission is situated is being sold for $50,000 of which $3,000 has been saved for this purpose. On behalf of St. Irene Orthodox Mission, Father Constantinos requests your best effort to help raise the rest of the remaining money. With negotiation, he is sure the seller would accept $30,000.

To donate to this worthy cause, please click here and be redirected to the donation page.

$4,100 Raised for “Permanent Lunch Location”

To the Glory of God, over $4,000 has been raised towards the $25,000 goal for St. Barnabas Orphanage and School Campaign for a Permanent Lunch Location. That is 16% of the goal in just over 6 days!

To the donors and supporters who have gotten this Campaign off to such a glorious start the Fr. Methodius, Everlyn, the leadership, teachers, and especially the children, thank you.

Father Methodius and Everlyn’s dream to provide a home to 50 orphaned children is one step closer. The opportunity which has presented itself that can help them move to the first phase of their dream is one step closer. The home that can easily house more children who have no home, can have a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and a place to play and learn is one step closer.

If you have not donated, please consider supporting Saint Barnabas Orphanage and School to help them achieve Phase One of their dream – A Campaign for a Permanent Lunch Location.

Watch the video to see the land and the home. Listen to Father Methodius’ speak of the possibilities and join in him furthering the mission of Saint Barnabas Orphanage and School.

To donate to A Campaign for a Permanent Lunch Location click here.

Gratitude in Suffering – Kenya 2017

There are days when I can barely move my body. The pain that shoots through me brings tears to my eyes at times.  There are days when the pain that shoots through my mind causes me to writhe in pain.  In my weakness God makes me strong. I am grateful.

There are times when I look around, I look into the faces of the smallest of the small, and am nearly overwhelmed with the suffering that reflects back at me.  No child should suffer…ever.  No child should be hungry. No child should be homeless.  No child should be shoeless.  Here in Kenya, the most vulnerable are hungry, homeless, shoeless and suffer.  In my weakness God makes me strong. I am grateful.

Job asked, “Why God?”  I echo his words.  God’s answer is the same, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4)  I hear His words and stand in awe of He who created us all.  I stand in awe of His great mercy.  I seek to serve those in need, yet they serve me.  I am blessed and rejoice in it.  I am grateful.

Here is the latest news from the various missions and people who we serve:

St. Irene’s Orphanage & Educational Center:

  • A new van was purchased and it will be used to transport children to and from school.

 

  • Sunday it was a true blessing to present Fr. Constantine with the precious relics of St. Catherine.  He said, “God is good all the time.  I read and talk about relics and specific saints, but now the reality is in my mission work. I feel more spiritual and energetic.”

 

  • Fr. Constantine took me to visit my Godson, Chrysostomos, who is ill.  It was good to visit and pray with him. Fr. Constantine anointed him with holy oil from St. Nectarios. Though we went to minister to Chrysostomos, it was I who was ministered to.

 

St. Barnabas Orphanage & Educational Center:

  • The fundraising program for the miraculous opportunity to purchase two acres of land for a permanent location was kicked off this week.
  • Vespers was served for the first time ever at St. Barnabas.  The boys were introduced to a monastic form of the Jesus Prayer and the Rite of Forgiveness was presented to them as their new evening prayer rule.

Orthodox Africa Nairobi Board of Directors:

  • We met and had a blessed and profitable time together as brothers in Christ. The priests of the Board are not solely interested in seeing individual missions developed but missions that can have a larger impact on the Diocese and country as adolescent Orthodox Christians are nurtured in their faith through secondary school.  Fr. Methodius, speaking for all, said, “There was a time we felt alone. Now we feel the Church cares.  We are not alone in the struggle.  The sense of unity in OA Nairobi is unprecedented.”  Fr. Constantine said, “A strong Orthodox secondary school is most appropriate.  We want the children to be well established and strong in their faith, to guard it and be self-reliant in the future.  They will then propagate the Faith.”

As you can see, there is much for which to be grateful.  Many blessings are found, even in brokenness and pain.  God is the Potter. We are the clay, often broken and chipped.  When we give ourselves to Him with a heart and soul asking to be used for the good of others, He heals the cracks and wounds.  The crack is still there. The wound is scarred over.  Rub your thumb over them.  You can still feel them.  But, we are healed by He Who made us.

And for that I am grateful.

~Fr. Silouan