2017 – The Year in Review

 

The previous year was indeed a year of miracles, advances and pain – in fact this last year has been so full of blessings that one cannot even begin to articulate all that God has done for this mission through the hands of faithful donors such as yourself. Nevertheless, please accept this small review of the work that you have helped us perform. And, as always, please remember us in your prayers.

  • In February 2017, between the donors of Saint Irene’s Mission and Orthodox Africa, we were finally able to purchase a van for Saint Irene’s Orthodox Mission Center. It now enables Father Constantinos to provide safe transportation for the kids between church, school and other appointments.
  • In late April Father Silouan was blessed to speak to the faithful of Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church in Cumming, Georgia about the Mission of Orthodox Africa.
  • In May Father Silouan went on a whirlwind fundraising tour that saw him running up and down the East Coast of the United States presenting the work of Orthodox Africa in many parishes. The East Coast summer fundraising tour capped out with a joint presentation with His Grace Bishop Athanasius of Kisumu and Western Kenya at Saint John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington DC.
  • In June our Executive Director Father Silouan once again joined our brothers and sisters in Kenya and Uganda. While the many events that took place are too numerous to mention here, some of the highlights included the baptism of over 20 new Orthodox warriors and the presentation of Holy Relics to our missions including the relics of Saint Catherine of Sinai.
  • We were also able to raise enough money to pour concrete floors for the children of Saint Innocents Academy, thereby allowing them to concentrate on their studies without having to worry about jiggers and other earthbound insects biting and burrowing into their feet.
  • At the end of June Orthodox Africa had the pleasure of finally welcoming Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church on Bukasa Island, Uganda to our mission. Father Silouan spent ten (10) days with Father Christopher, his wife Matushka Maria, children and the faithful of this Parish community discussing with them the purpose of Orthodox Africa and setting up plans for how we can help them become self-sustaining.
  • In July Orthodox Africa was able to fund the purchase of one (1) acre of land for Saint Innocents Academy so that they can cultivate black tea. This purchase brings this mission much closer to becoming self-sustaining.
  • Father Silouan also did several presentations about the work of Orthodox Africa in Ukraine and Russia before finally returning to the United States in late August.
  • Finally, in December we were able to help fund a down payment on a very beautiful, new property for Saint Barnabas. This also brings them much closer to accomplishing the dream of self-sustainability.

In closing, I would like to present to you a very poignant article that Board Member, Andrea Hollander, wrote about the orphans, that together, we are helping. This article is very much worth reading again and meditating on how, together, we can better serve our brothers and sisters in Africa.

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 of 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 the 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 the 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 +

In Christ,  Father Silouan (Brown) – Executive Director

Land!

Every child in the world has a dream, a secret wish – to have something special, maybe a pony or a race car. Perhaps a child dreams of going to see the ocean or the desert. Many children dream of having a permanent home where food is readily available on a daily basis, where they are dry and warm, where there is someone to kiss them goodnight as they tuck them into bed. Even adults have dreams – to be successful, to be free of pain or hurt, to have no debt or to give their child their secret wish. This week a dream came true for Father Methodios, the Director of Saint Barnabas Orphanage and Education Center.

He has long dreamed of a permanent home for the orphans of Saint Barnabas. A piece of property large enough to house the orphans, one with water and electricity, enough land so the children have room to run and play, a place to build more dormitories and classrooms to house and teach more children.

This week that dream came true. Because of the generosity of Orthodox Africa donors, Father Methodios put a down payment on one (1) acre of land with one-half acre also available immediately. It has everything he dreamed of; buildings that are included in the purchase (but are temporary). The condition is not bad in comparison with the current living conditions. Minor repairs are required. A major drainage trench needs to be dug. A borehole (well)

for water (cost: $20,000) will need to be drilled before moving the children to the property.

Please continue to donate to Orthodox Africa in support of Saint Barnabas Orphanage and School. Click here.   Let us help them to meet their monthly lease-to-purchase payment and get that water borehole done!

“…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.

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.

A Letter From A Student At Saint Innocents Academy 08/05/2017

This month, Orthodox Africa is proud to present a look at Saint Innocent’s Academy written by one of the primary school students that directly benefits from your continual support. Now with very little grammatical editing we present to you….. Note: All Edits will appear in (brackets)

A Letter From A Student:

St Innocents Chajo Academy 08/05/2017

I love st innocent so much. Because our teachers teach us very good. Then we do their work that teachers gives us and we do in hardworking and we are very displeen (disciplined)

In st innocent the environment is very clean and there is a small field that pupils go to play there games. The school chajo was start in 2011. In 2011 the school was very far because you cross a small stream. We learn that school up to 2012 we came to house of our director: That house was two rooms only. The old director build one room only then the school has three classes it was baby, middle and pre-unit.

After one year our director built standard one then pupils work very hard. Then in end of term one we do zonal (finals). Then our results came we were number four out of twenty-six schools. Then after one year director built standard two then a visitor from America came to our school he bring us pictures of Jesus. I thank Father Johna (Jonah) because he brought has frome small school to big school of hardworking pupils and improve as frome one room to many rooms that is more than five rooms. I thank my teacher who is called Miss Nelly. She is a good teacher. Because she teaches me from top class to standard four. I love that teacher very  much. We shall never forget her. Another teacher teache as from standard two up to now. He is a games teacher because he teach as then we go up to Serem. Our pupils run from Chepkuny to Serem. They fail in Serem. We love our school because (our) teachers teach us very good and in our classes everybody sit very comfortable and every class have blackboard and desks.

In teaching teachers teach pupils very hardwork and when it is zonals (finals) we are number four and lazy pupils in school teaches us to pull up our socks. I thank our teachers because they call our neighbor to cook some food at school. I want to say one idea it about breakfast. My school wants breakfast in ten oclock we want to drink tea and bread everyday. I want to tell father silvanoes (Father Silouan) to give us some money to buy milk, sugar and bread.

You can help us make this child’s wish come true, with your help we can buy some milk sugar and bread so that the kids do not have to go hungry during their school day. By going to this page www.orthodoxafrica.org /st-innocent-academy/ you will learn more about Saint Innocents Academy and will be able to make a donation that will got directly to nurturing these children both physically and spiritually.

Robinson Cheruiyot , is a 10 year old Orphan and is exceedingly bright in academics.

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.

*****

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

*****

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.

*****

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!