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.
On June 8th, in a whirlwind visit, Fr. Silouan and His Grace Bishop Athanasius visited the students and teachers of the Bishop Athanasius Secondary School of Mugen, located in the Nandi Region of Western Kenya. Teachers and students welcomed His Grace and Father with traditional African songs and dances, communicating their commitment to educating their people. As Julius Kiprotich, seminarian and Teacher shared, “Education is the key to our success.”
The teachers and students were delighted to take His Grace and Father around the school compound and to show them their classrooms, as well as the water tank that was recently gifted to the school by Orthodox Africa and their generous donors. This water tank allows them to collect and store rainwater for domestic use, including drinking water and water for cooking.
This resource allows them to manage when they experience African dry spells.
Later, Father Silouan sat with the students and teachers, encouraging them in their studies and in their faith. Julius Kiprotich, reported that since Father’s visit the school has had an increase in enrollment. When asked what it was that was so inspiring to students, Julius shared, “It’s rare here to see a white person with whiskers.” Perhaps it was his “whiskers” and smile, or maybe it was his inspiring words. However, by the Grace of God, the school is in need of additional classrooms including a science and computer lab, in order to accommodate the increase in students and the educational aspirations of this beautiful community.