Encouragement, Engagement, Outcome: St. John Maximovitch Secondary School

One of the long term goals of Orthodox Africa is to foster engagement in our missions, their children, families and staff so they are inspired and encouraged to get involved in the building up Our most Holy Orthodox Faith and develop a hope for a future beyond even Our own lifetimes.

To the end the priests of the Nairboi Board of Directors are not solely interested in seeing individual missions developed, but to build mission programs that will have a larger impact on the Diocese and the country. The goal for Orthodox Africa is to instruct the missions to become self-sustaining. How do we see this unfolding? By establishing the St. John Maximovitch Secondary School so they will begin to establish their self-sufficiency.

In his June 2, 2015 article Education in Kenya Nick Clark, Editor, of World Education News & Reviews said,

In 2008, the government of Kenya instituted a free secondary education for all programs. Between 2003 and 2012, the secondary gross enrollment ratio increased from 43 percent to 67 percent, as graduates from the new free primary program moved their way through the system.

Nonetheless, much progress in educational quality and access remains to be made in Kenya. In 2010, one million children were still out of school, and while this was almost half the number in 1999, it is still the ninth highest of any country in the world.

Orthodox primary schools for children from age 3 to 11 establishes a good foundation of learning for a child. The child learns to read, write and do arithmetic; as well as, learns self-discipline, how to work hard towards a goal and to manage their time. They are also given the opportunity to learn about the Orthodox Christian Faith, again, establishing a foundation on which they can stand as they encounter what the winds of life bring them. St. Barnabas Orphanage and Education Center and St. Irene Mission Center provides this foundational education.

As adolescents, children will encounter messages that are opposite of the Orthodox Faith, messages that seek to draw them away from the One True Church. Building up their most Holy Faith is very important. The nurturing of the St. John Maximovitch Secondary School will continue to solidify the foundation on which they stand and will give them a firm footing to resist that which will try to pull them away. This secondary school will give the children ages 12 to 18 from St. Barnabas, St. Irene and other children, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox from all over the Diocese and Kenya, more educational knowledge to further encourage them in life.

We can give to many worthy things in life.  As we endeavor to build up Orthodox Africa by establishing the St. John Maximovitch Secondary School in Kenya, we ask you to consider this worthy project with your support.  Please donate to Orthodox Africa by clicking here and mark your donation “St. John Maximovitch Secondary School.”

St. Irene Orthodox Mission Centre – Kenya “helps families to stand on their own.”

Listen to the video and learn of the plight of this family.  Learn also of their courage and faith and how they have turned to the Orthodox Church for help. Nine year old John goes to school at St Irene’s and hopes to be a Priest one day. He and his older brother Kariuki, are suffering and have difficulty standing because of their disability. Kariuki is 20 years and cannot stand at all on his own. John has trouble walking and gets discouraged. Having barely enough to eat, the weakness in their bodies is made manifest in their legs.

Recently Father Constantinos went to visit this disadvantaged family who was abandoned by their own father after he lost hope in being able to care for his family. This past year has been one of the worst droughts in the history of Kenya. This rather large family, with six children, has a hopeful Mother who goes out to gather firewood every day for other families to provide food for her own family. She hopes for Kariuki to be able to help also by learning some craft, while he sits hoping to overcome this helplessness and despair.

Several of the children, John, George and Kamau, all attend St. Irene’s School and know their help is in the LORD Jesus Christ. John, although very restless, has an infectious smile and loves to help make other people happy. His restlessness seems to come from his not being able to do what he needs to do. There are two other younger children who are too young for school now. St Irene’s Orthodox Mission School serves 110 children with meals and educational instruction, and learning about the original faith of the Apostles.

Fr. Constantinos and his team, who have the blessing of Orthodox Archbishop Makarios, will be visiting the family by the end of this month to offer food, clothing, blankets, shoes, basins, some good beds, a better wheel chair and medical care. Please walk with Fr. Constantinos on this journey of philanthropy by helping him to help these young children and know they are only one of about 25 other families that suffer similar difficulties. Our hope and prayer with Orthodox Africa is that at least 25 families will help another family from Kenya with a gift of any amount. It requires more than $250 a month to provide help for a family like this but with $7,500 we could help most all of the 25 families who are suffering as well.

Matthew 25:40 says: The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Please GIVE to St. Irene’s Orthodox Mission Center here.

If you cannot donate online and need a tax-deductible receipt from our 501(c)3  you can send a check to:

Orthodox Africa
5874 Orchard Hill Court.
Clifton, VA 20124 USA

Joseph

We at Orthodox Africa wanted to take an inside look of the life of one orphan at St Barnabas Orphanage & School. We can only imagine the life of little Joseph before, who is now 6 years old. This young Kenyan native boy is part of a group of children who were either left on the streets or abandoned in one way or another. Families just couldn’t afford to keep them anymore.

Food is over twice as expensive now since one of the worst droughts hit Africa.  There are days where there isn’t enough food because of the high prices of food from the severe drought. Now Joseph has concerned people to watch over him and keep him safe. To also provide for him and show him there are people who love him and care for him. One of the things children need most in these situations is structure with both compassion and love.

Little Joseph’s day includes waking up at 5:00 am in the morning. He then prepares for the day’s activities with all the other orphans.  He likes the consistency of the morning prayers from 5:45 am to 6:45am and also that they are peaceful. They provide a hope in the future for him, especially now that his needs are starting to be met. They pray together every day that the donations continue to come through and when they do this is very reassuring to Joseph and the others.

After prayers he feels the belongingness of sharing a cup of tea and a piece of corn meal with all the other orphans. Remedial classes starts at 7:00 am till 8:00 am and he then joins the other children for normal classes. Joseph is in class 1 with 16 other children and there are a total of 176 in the entire school. At 11:00 am they all get a breakfast which consists of porridge and cakes. Some days they get eggs when the needed resources are there.

After the breakfast they all continue with normal lessons until 1:00 pm when they take their lunch. They usually have a hot meal prepared in their school kitchen.  Afterwards they begin to write questions so they can be answered after school time, at night. Then at 3:00 pm they join with class 2 for reading story time which ends after over an hour. Games time is from 4:15 to 5:20 pm and after this time; those who don’t yet live in the orphanage are taken to their guardians where they spend the night.

Joseph joins the rest of residents of the orphanage for evening prayers after he takes a shower. At 7:00 pm supper is served and they proceed to study time which last up until their 9:00 pm bedtime. Having this care, attention and security creates a simple yet profound sense of hope for Joseph and the others. It is only because of the faithful generosity of their benefactors, for whom they give thanks in their prayers. and they pray that others will join in giving of their abundance, so that the other children can join them at the St Barnabas Orphanage. Please GIVE to St Barnabas Orphanage & School at: OrthodoxAfrica.org/

“…if You are real, then not much else matters.”

This last line of a poem written by a non-believing young man over 50 years ago is the leaping off point of the book Tears on the Equator: Muzungu.  Written by Gerasimos Kambites, this book chronicles this Greek-Canadian man through his life and eventual time on Bukasa Island, Lake Victoria, Uganda and the establishment of Annunciation Orthodox Church.

As a muzungu (white man) married to a native Bukasa Island woman named Sarah, whom he met while at Brookline Massachusetts’ Hellenic College, Gerasimos began a journey of “discovering the amazing treasure of Orthodoxy, which had always been at [his] very feet” and serving God as a mission priest and medical doctor on the other side of the world.

Each chapter unfolds a story of frustration, joy, anger, laughter, sorrow, gladness, fear, calm, a struggle of faith and the dawn of renewed faith.  A medical clinic was established, a school built, and stone by stone an Orthodox temple grew, all in the midst of the AIDS crisis, civil war and racial intolerance.

Gerasimos’ brother-in-law, Father Christopher Walusimbi, eventually finished building Annunciation Orthodox Church stone by stone; however, not before caring for the many AIDS orphans for 17 years.  The temple exterior is complete with the familiar flame of the Holy Spirit atop the building. The roof leaks.  The interior is incomplete.

Repairs to the boat that Father Christopher uses for his transportation service are nearly done.  Read about that here .   Life vests need to be purchased for the boat for safety.  Most importantly, to continue the mission work at Annunciation Orthodox Church, several young men are thinking about attending Seminary with an eye towards ordination, God willing.

Help him continue this vital mission work by marking your Orthodox Africa donation “Annunciation O.C.”

You can also purchase a copy of Tears on the Equator: Muzungu through Amazon Smile and choose Orthodox Africa as your supported charity.  Not only will 100% of proceeds go to Annunciation Orthodox Church, Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to Orthodox Africa!  A double gift!

Bishop Athanasius Secondary School is Growing

With a growing student body, and even more new students registered to begin next term, Bishop Athanasius Secondary School continues to grow, feeding the children who are thirsty for knowledge. Such growth is truly a blessing from God, though requires tremendous labor. During the past month, the construction of a new classroom has begun, giving hope to the school that they will have the space to accommodate their students.

This construction project requires commitment and hard work. Tractors transport the concrete, bricks, and sand while donkeys endure the weight. With the materials available, all have been working tirelessly, and are eager to complete the project which is currently half-way there. While the school waits for the replenishment of materials, they give thanks for their progress and pray for the support, love and prayers of their brothers and sisters in Christ in order to carry on. It is through the funds raised by Orthodox Africa that they have been able to take on such a project.

Building this additional classroom will give the students the environment they need in which to learn, an environment that will allow them the flourish in all areas of the curriculum; sciences, humanities, languages and religious studies.

He adds, “The school is a garden and the teacher is a Gardner and a student is a tender plant, therefore the teacher provides manure and water to the tender plant for the plant to does work of growing if the land is already there. The classroom is one of the learning tools as it provides the necessary environment for the learner.”

Julius and the teachers are making such sacrifices, and request your help to ensure that they have a classroom in order for the new students to begin school.

For the Sake of a Big Mac or Tall Latte

The director of St. Irene Orthodox Mission and Orphanage, Father Constantinos, was the youngest of eight children. By the time he was 12 years old his father had died leaving his widowed mother to raise her eight children alone. She was, and is, a loving Orthodox mother, who did her utmost to raise her children in the One True Faith. These circumstances brought about hardship and poverty. By the Grace of God Father Constantinos completed his secondary and tertiary education, studied at Makarios III Seminary was ordained to the Holy Priesthood. The love and passion Father Constantinos has for the children of St. Irene Orthodox Mission and Orphanage was forged in the fire of his harsh childhood.

The children of St. Irene live a life that is as harsh as Father Constantinos’ was. One quarter of the children are orphans who depend on him for everything.

Currently Father Constantinos is running the One-Dollar-A-Day-Program, which is a way to provide food, medical care, clothing and education for one child for one day. If you gave up one Starbucks Tall Café Latte (cost $3.45) one child would have all needs covered for three days! If you gave up one McDonald’s Big Mac Hamburger (cost $4.67) one child would have all needs covered for four days! The average cell phone bill is $144 per month. Imagine how many children could be cared for with that amount donated to St. Irene’s!

Please consider supporting the One-Dollar-A-Day-Program at St. Irene Orthodox Mission Mission and Orphanage.

This child says “Thank you!”

 

Every Penny Counts

When I see a child whose pants don’t cover thin legs & ankles, whose toes have worn through their shoes, or whose skin is chapped and dry from the cold, my heart aches. My mind turns towards a way to help.

There are many charitable organizations to which a person can donate. A good question to ask is “How much of my donation goes to administrative costs?”  It is said less than 25% spent on administrative costs is a good goal.

How much of your dollar donated to St. Barnabas Orphanage & Education Center goes towards providing for the need of a child?

Director, Father Methodius Kariuki, assures his donors that more than 94 percent of every dollar raised fully benefits the child.

  • 94% – Food, clothing, educational resourcess and salaries for caretakers
  • 6% – PayPal & Bank transaction fees

As much as they are able, local community services help with maintenance or construction needs.  Their local neighbors help where they can, sharing food stuffs, fuel, wood, etc.

Father Methodios assures every donor, “We do not have any irrelevant costs. We have no hidden agenda. We are Orthodox Christians and are fully Pro-Life.” Transparency and honesty are of utmost importance. This builds trust in our relationship with, not only our donors, but with our caretakers and teachers. It models the Christian virtues for our children.

What more can a donor ask for in an age that does not value these things? Donate now to St. Barnabas Orphanage and Education Center. Every penny really does count.

On Helping a Mission

People ask, “how can we help Father Christopher on Bukasa Island?” The easy answer is to send money so that the great work he started can be completed. But that is not the only way. Do you have skills in building? Carpentry? Icon painting? Anything which can be used to finish the external work of the Annunciation Orthodox Church. Can you volunteer? Set aside a few weeks and after having made contact with Father Christopher, go and visit him. When you stand there in front of the temple he has been building since 1984, your heart will soften, tears will come to you, and you will pray so deeply.


Hold a fundraiser, show photographs from Orthodox Africa and TearsontheEquator.com. Look at your own luxury and pray that Father and his Holy flock have the basics of life. Everything is needed—especially prayer. Ask yourself what can I sacrifice for my brothers in Africa?
“Father, I don’t know how to build walls,” then Christopher told me in 1984. I answered, “but God knows and He will show you.” In obedience and Faith he began to build walls, and arches, and make blocks out of termite poo—yes termite poo. You can learn more about how you can step out in faith just as Father Christopher did many years ago and yourself become an integral part of the Orthodox Mission in Uganda.

Bishop Athanasius (Akunda) and Father Silouan visit Bishop Athanasius Secondary School

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.