Dear Friends of Nyumbani,
Greetings to each one at this time when school/college is very much the order of the day for our children and adolescents. However, life in Nyumbani is always interspersed with activities and visitors. One especially attractive event recently was the Miss Etiquette competition on 15th June. For the past three years, the Miss Etiquette group has hosted an annual fashion show in Nyumbani Home. Some weeks before the event, a group comes on Sunday afternoons to train our girls who wish to compete in the competition. The effect of this training is so evident at the actual competition in the self-confidence and poise with which the girls parade before the audience. This year the competition was powered by One Touch One Life Program who were celebrating their 25th anniversary. Lydia finally emerged as Miss Etiquette with two runners-up. The boys were not totally omitted as two other awards, Mr. & Miss Manners were also given.
Another moving event was the celebration of Corpus Christi, the special Feast for our Sisters of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. They prepared a beautiful Eucharistic Celebration led by Fr. Gerry and Fr. Francis, followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament around Nyumbani Home grounds. The Sisters then invited all of us to a delicious lunch. We are deeply grateful for the committed service since 1995 of these Sisters to our children and adolescents both in the Home and Lea Toto. We were delighted that a group of teaching staff from St. Lawrence University with representation from Clarkson University were able to join us for this celebration, after which they visited Lea Toto Kawangware Centre. We value our collaboration with St. Lawrence University now over 10 years.
From USA we also welcomed John Sheffy, his wife Holly with their two children, Indigo and Blaise, and students from Wisconsin University for an overnight stay in Nyumbani Home before beginning their annual permaculture course. John and the children had already spent 10 days in the Village as John carried out his supervisory role of Tree4Children. Their stay overlapped with the arrival of Dana Mulligan, an intern from Virginia Tech, VA. From Australia, we welcomed back Lucio and Haydee after a long break. From Kenya we were delighted to welcome Loreto Sister Mary Kamotho with a group of her nursing school students, Mater Hospital who spent the day learning about our paediatric medical service and then doing volunteer service around the compound.
Our children/adolescents particularly enjoy a visit from their age mates. There were two such enjoyable visits: On 22nd June came a team from the Jesuit Regis High School, New York, at the same time as an adult group associated with the Jesuits. 29th June brought a group of girls from Nyali House, Kenya High School who have adopted Nyumbani Home as their charity. Each year Nyali House girls fundraise on their own initiative, and then come to visit laden with donations purchased with funds raised. Special of course for all of us was a visit from Lloydie Zaiser, bi-annually at least since 2007.
A special day for staff in Nyumbani Home, Laboratory and Head Office was the annual team-building event on 7th June which took place in a beautiful location in Limuru. An important meeting kept me from joining until lunchtime, but the great team spirit I encountered on arrival helped me relax and join the letting-go fun activities. It was lovely to witness staff responding to an invitation to nominate staff members to be awarded for their service using an internet system. We all watched intently as we saw the numbers grow on the screen! Finally, three long-serving members were nominated: Mutinda, maintenance, Peter, cook and Sr. Tresa, Matron. I also had to be awarded!
Another lovely staff event was the wedding of Doreen to Fredrick which was held in Nyumbani Home. Doreen is our current Laboratory technologist and Fredrick was a previous laboratory staff. A unique feature of the ceremony was the arrival of the wedding rings by drone as we all looked up in amazement.
Meetings with USAID have been very frequent recently as preparations for the 2019 Country Operation Plan, COP 19 were quite demanding. With sustainability as the priority for PEPFAR, each funded organization is required to detail how this will finally be realized. One significant event was a meeting of Faith-Based and Civil Organizations with representatives from the Office of the Global AIDS Co-Ordinator, OGAC, Washington. OGAC are now very much looking to Faith-Based Organization to help in finding and linking to treatment the remaining persons living with HIV. Currently we are in a SURGE project where each week we have to submit to USAID the numbers of new HIV positive children and adults identified. Another significant meeting was a visit to my office from representatives of the Global Communication Department, Geneva and New York who were interested in hearing about our paediatric care and treatment progress.
Then there were Embassy events, I was very happy to be invited on 27th June to the Irish Embassy to welcome our new Irish Ambassador to Kenya, H. E Fionnuala Quinlan. I had met her the precious Friday when she graced the 100th Birthday celebration of one of our Loreto Sisters, Sr. Colombiere, who for many years supported Nyumbani and came to Mass in Nyumbani Home each Sunday.
Then on 2nd July, I was invited to celebrate Independence Day in the USA Embassy. This year the emphasis was on the informal. Both H.E. Kyle McCarter and wife Victoria were well known to the Kenyan Community, having volunteered in Kenya earlier in their life, so that feature very much marked the evening.
Another Irish event was the Annual Irish Society Awards meeting on 25th May at which our Respite Care Centre was identified to receive funding support. We were very grateful. Shortly before then, our Respite Centre also received funding from the Catholic International Community for the third time, vital support for these special children for which we are very appreciative. Finally, to our great joy, our proposal for help with solar energy and climate change projects to The GEP The Small Grants Programme has been successful and we look forward to receiving this substantial grant in the near future.
But fundraising still has to continue especially for education with the growing number of our adolescents. We have a large number starting college in September 2019. Any donation, no matter the amount will help us see these young people into self-sustainability, which is also our COGRI priority.
Wishing each one God’s special blessing in your life.
Sister Mary Owens Executive Director IBVM