Kenya 2017 Update

After fifteen long hours of travelling, Father Silouan arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya Thursday, May 11.  Met by Father Methodius (St. Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage & School) and Father Constantinos (St. Irene Orthodox Mission Center, Father Silouan was quickly whisked off to see the children who have been waiting and waiting to see him, one of their favorite people.

First stop was St. Barnabas where the children greeted him with smiles and hugs. “We are delighted to have him here,” said Father Methodius. Catechism classes were to be held the next day.

Next stop was St. Irene’s where Father Silouan and Father Constantinos shared serving meals to all the children.

In spite of the long flight, delays and tiredness, Father Silouan was as happy to see everyone as they were to see him, especially the children.

Keep Father Silouan in your prayers as he visits the various mission centers in coming months.

Donations to support any or all of the Orthodox Africa missions, please visit our donation page found by clicking here.

Seven Floors For Seven Classrooms

St. Innocent Academy in Tiriki, Kenya is full of laughter.  146 students between the ages of just two years old to eleven years old fill its seven classrooms, sitting four to a desk.  The temporary school building itself is made of corrugated steel, with dirt floors and no doors, yet for many of the students, this school, one of the poorest in Tiriki, is the closest thing they have to safety and security.  More than 60% of the children are orphans.

These children are among the most at-risk in the area.  They are at risk for disease, hunger, and poverty, and St. Innocent Academy represents their only way out.  Here, they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic.  Here, they are also fed two meals a day.  For many, the meals they get at St. Innocent’s are their only meals each day.  Many are so poor, they have no shoes.  This leads to a great problem with a very easy solution.
The problem is a parasitic disease called tungiasis or “jiggers.”  Tungiasis is caused by burrowing parasites called jigger fleas, which live in the dirt floors of the classrooms.  The barefoot students are the ideal hosts for these jigger fleas, which burrow into the children’s feet to lay their eggs.  This causes a painful infection and ulceration of the foot.  The swelling and the pain of the infection makes it difficult for the children to walk.  Attendance drops, and classroom performance falls.  When the children are not in school, they are at greater risk in the slums around them.  Again, there is an easy solution: Concrete floors.

Concrete floors prevent the fleas from burrowing into the children’s feet.  They are easily washed, preventing other diseases as well.  Each of the seven classrooms needs a concrete floor.  The cost of each floor is $143 USD.  That means for a total of $1,000 USD, the classrooms can be made safer for those children who are in such desperate need.

What can you do to help? Work has already begun.  The baby classroom has a new concrete floor, and, with your help, others will follow, hopefully in the next few weeks.  This is the first BIG fundraising goal for St. Innocent’s!  Donations have been received in the amount of $400 USD, which leaves only $600 USD remaining.  With your help, the students will have a safer school, free of burrowing parasites, and be able to get the education they need to rise out of poverty.  The laughter that is the sound of happy, healthy children will continue to be heard in the classrooms and playground of St. Innocent Academy.

TO DONATE: Please visit our donation page. Please be as generous as you can!  Remember, the solution is easy when people are generous!

 

-Victoria Marckx

Together in Christ

It’s so cold! You hurry into your home, a plywood, barn-like structure, and sigh with gratitude that the wind is at least cut off even if you still have to wear your hat and coat. At least it is better than sleeping in the cold, garbage‑strewn streets of Kibera slums outside where some of the others have to find what shelter they can, wherever they can so that they do not freeze to death overnight. You might ruefully smile to yourself if you knew that many people do not know that Kenya gets so cold during the winter. Rumbling. Just your stomach.

You are a growing 9‑year‑old boy. There is no money for more food. They feed you what they can. They have so many kids to take care of but you are glad you have more than you used to, at least. And good friends too. They live with you in the plywood room, sleeping in metal‑framed bunk beds. At least you are together.

“Together” is a word we do not take for granted in the Orthodox Church. In our theology, we recognize the concept of the old Russian saying that we are “Saved together, but damned alone.” Even the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—exist in community undivided! This is an icon and pattern for our own existence. We were never created to be alone, cut off from the community of others – none of us. Taking this concept in hand, Orthodox Africa has partnered with several nascent Orthodox missions near and in Nairobi, Kenya, to assist them in spreading the Gospel of Christ. As we are meant to be the hands and feet of Christ on Earth, we take this responsibility of “together” very seriously. Recently, our own Father Silouan (Brown), a monk in the ROCOR, left for the unknown and followed God’s command to spend a month in Kenya seeing how our Kenyan Orthodox brothers and sisters in these missions live day to day, what their greatest needs are, and how we at Orthodox Africa can be of the greatest service in helping them become self-sustaining groups. One of the greatest delights Father Silouan had not long after his arrival was attending the baptism of eleven people into the Orthodox Church! He was asked to be godfather of six of the children, including Panteli, the infant son of one of the Kenyan priests!

They are singing a song as you walk around the baptismal font. You like to sing in church about Jesus. This is a song you did not know before: “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ! Alleluia!” You were told that this song is from the Bible: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29, Berean Study Bible).

No matter how far or near we are in distance physically, spiritually, we are all one in Christ. And we are all humans together. There are myriad opportunities to be a part of community in our parishes, neighborhoods, and families. This is an opportunity to extend the concept of community to those who are geographically removed in utterly destitute circumstances. This can be through prayer,  or financial contributions  when team missions are ready (more about that in the near future), sharing the information on your social media, and telling your friends, family, and parishes about the work Orthodox Africa is doing in support of these missions. Please remember, we are all in it together!
With love and gratitude in Christ’s service,
The Team at Orthodox Africa +

Drought crisis continues – Impact is high

In its 27 February, 2017 Press Release, the Kenya Meteorological Department of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources indicated that the outlook for the seasonable long rains in March-April-May is not good and depressed rainfall will continue.  This is expected over the most of the country and especially the eastern regions.

The impact on agriculture will continue to be severe.  The press release said, “Food security is expected to deteriorate over most parts of the country and more so the northern areas of Kenya.”  Increased malnutrition, cholera, and malaria are possible.  A fourteen year old girl died and “115 hunger stricken villagers” (Daily Nation) were taken ill after a meal of dead camel meat after not having eaten in several weeks.

How is this impacting our Missions?

“By God’s grace and mercy, our missions are not experiencing starvation,” said Fr. Silouan (Brown), Director and Chairman of the Board of Orthodox Africa.  However, “with inflation hitting an 11-month high at 6.9%” (Daily Nation) the cost of food is astronomical.

How can you help?

First of all, pray.  Prayer is key to all help from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  During this Lenten period, as you fast and give alms, consider donating to Orthodox Africa.  Every dollar helps alleviate the burden of each mission.

-Athanasia Ellmore


Sources: 

Republic of Kenya-Min. of Environment & Natural Resources-State Dept. of Environment-Kenya Meteorological Dept., Reference # KMD/FCST/5-2017/SO/01.  13 February 2017.

Andae, Gerald. Expect Less Rain This Year, Met warns.  Daily Nation, 24, February 2017, p 11.

Great Blessings for St. Irene’s Orthodox Mission Center

Dear friends of Orthodox Africa,

It is with joy and thanksgiving that we announce that a major need for transportation has been filled by the grace of God’s compassion. Through the help of your kind donations,  Fr. Constantinos Muthiru of St. Irene Orthodox Mission Center, reports he has been able to move forward with the purchase of a van to use as a mission vehicle! It took much time and effort in prayer and in saving money, but the children will now be able to be taken to hospital when they are sick and to have safe transportation to and from school and church.

Mobility can be a daunting prospect from day to day for the many children benefiting from the existence of these missions. A reliable vehicle is an enormous blessing to the large spiritual family served by St. Irene Mission Center!  We are extremely grateful for all of you who donate, pray, and volunteer with us at Orthodox Africa, and we look forward to continuing to participate with God in the working of His will in all our lives through laboring together!

With our sincere gratitude and love in Christ,
The Team at Orthodox Africa