Dear Friends of Nyumbani,
Greetings to each one during this Easter season.
As always the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection, preceded by the Holy Week Ceremonies, was a special time for all of us in Nyumbani during which many of our children in Nyumbani Home and Village were baptized and received Holy Communion. We hope that you too experienced Joy and Hope during this time.
The school vacation, overlapping with Eastertide, brought more joy to our children/young people with a variety of activities and visitors to our programs. To our surprised delight, we learned that the new USA Ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter and his wife, Victoria would visit us in Nyumbani Home on Holy Saturday, 20th April. From the start of the visit, Amb. McCarter and his wife wanted to know all about our programs; after this meeting they visited families in their homes, and then the Nyumbani Diagnostic Laboratory. Finally, they met with staff and children in our Hall for entertainment and speeches. Having lived in Kenya for several years, during which time they started a Home and Clinic, Amb. McCarter and Victoria felt very much at home with us.
Another high level visit happened when we heard that UK Foreign Minister, Jeremy Hunt and his wife, Lucia would be coming to Kenya and wished to visit Nyumbani. It was finally arranged that they would come to our Community Based Program, Lea Toto Kibera. With great delight, 15 children who benefited from UK education sponsorship and 15 caregivers were selected to meet Hon. Jeremy Hunt and his wife, Lucia. COGRI Chairperson Paula Nzisa Lanco and two other board members were in attendance, together with Protus Lumiti deputizing for me as I was, sadly, out of the country, and Paul Mulongo, Program Manager, Lea Toto with other Lea Toto staff. Hon Hunt also insisted on visiting part of Kibera informal community as well!
A high level event for Nyumbani Village staff and children took place on 5th May when a new Catholic Parish in which the Village is located, St. Andrew’s Parish, was erected. I was happy to be able to attend having just arrived back from UK. The ceremony of the Erection of the Parish took place during a Eucharistic Celebration, with celebrant, Archbishop Anthony Muheria. Two groups of our Nyumbani children, one from Hotcourses Primary School and the other from Lawson High School were selected to do the liturgical dancing and one other to represent the Pontifical Missionary Childhood (PMC). To our great surprise, we learned that Nyumbani Village has been selected to head one of the three Zones in the Parish. This is a great recognition and indicates that our Village is now further claimed by the local community which is our desire.
This year, Nyumbani UK and Hotcourses Foundation Board invited me for a week long Fundraising and PR visit from 28th April to 3rd May. The first event was a lunch on 29th organized by the Kenya High Commission and the Eastern Africa Association to honour the Kenyan Athletes who had participated in the London Marathon on the previous Sunday, with Eliud Kipchoge coming 1st in the Men’s Marathon and Brigid Kosgei 1st in the Women’s. Sadly, the athletes were finally unable to attend, but it was a great opportunity for me to meet with members of these groups. Other events were a Books to Bricks dinner with a group interested in the building of Nyumbani Village, lunch with Hotcourses/IDP staff who are extraordinary in their fundraising for us, a visit to South Farnham Educational Trust founded by Sir Andrew Carter, and a Commonwealth Countries League Cocktail. The event, however was a Cocktail Party at Lancaster House hosted on 2nd May for VIP invitees and donors. Hon. Jeremy Hunt, who was unable to attend because of being in Kenya, sent a congratulatory message by video for the event. My hope and prayer is that these events will be fruitful in helping Nyumbani UK and Hotcourses Foundation Board raise the funds they need to continue funding Hotcourses Primary and Lawson High School as well as education in Lea Toto.
From 6th – 11th May, a team from USAID have been with us doing a survey of our programs, preparatory to possible further involvement of COGRI with USAID. On 7th May, a very important event took place in the Maryknoll Fathers residence when our Chairperson, Paula Nzisa Lanco and I together with Archbishop Martin Kivuva and Fr. Willybard Lagho signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between COGRI Board and Tsavo Children’s Village (TCV) Board in which COGRI agrees to undertake financial management of donor funding for TCV. The dream of the late Archbishop Boniface Lele is finally being implemented. This dream began when, as Bishop of Kitui, he facilitated access to land for Nyumbani Village and gave his full support, only to be transferred as Archbishop of Mombasa shortly after we started.
Sadly, we had to bid farewell of Sr. Lilian Awuor, Head Teacher in Hotcourses Primary School as she needs to do further formation in her congregation. Mr. Simon Peter Manyole took over as Head Teacher on 6th May. Other very different farewells were the laying to rest of another Village grandmother, Susu Veronica Nzilani, and Nyumbani Home graduate, Steven Wanjau.Kajiwa. We thank Susu Veronica for her devoted service to the children in her Village family; may she rest in peace with God. We remember Steve with great affection, saddened considerably by his sudden demise while he was attending a Youth Workshop in Naivasha with other Nyumbani graduates. His funeral was memorable as we asked God to have him now in the life of the Resurrection.
We are now just one month away from the great event which will take place on 14th June – the wedding of Benard and Grace (February Newsletter). This past week, the team who are sponsoring the wedding visited Nyumbani Home where the event will take place. It was lovely to experience the commitment they have following their responding to the film clip they saw on TUKO media on St Valentine’s Day. May these coming weeks be blessed in every way for Benard and Grace as they confirm their commitment to each other in marriage.
God bless each one,
Sister Mary Owens, Executive Director