Dear Friends of Nyumbani,
Greetings on my return to Kenya. I was delighted to meet many friends of Nyumbani when I was in USA and Ireland.
The great news I want to share with you is the receiving of the Biography of our Founder, Fr. Angelo D’Agostino, ‘Dag, Savior of AIDS Orphans’ by Dr. Joseph R. Novello, long-time friend of Fr. Angelo D’Agostino, which took place on the 20th of September (see photos), and I was able to make that announcement at the USA Gala the following day, 21st September. It is really tremendous that the life of our Founder has now been documented, especially his extraordinary charism and commitment, often at risk of his reputation, in reaching out to our special children, and I hope and pray that it will inspire many who also feel called to reach out to the multitudes in need in our world today to take action. It is available @Amazon.com, ISBN (hard cover), ISBN (ebook), ISBN (paperback). Make sure to get your personal copy.
As always, a marvellous schedule had been prepared for my visit to USA. It started with a reception on 16th September at the home of Marilyn and John Faust where I had the opportunity to meet personally with long-time friends of Nyumbani as well as new supporters. Important in my first week were meetings on Capitol Hill with Taylor Redick, Policy Analyst, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. and Senator David Rouzer, all of great significance this year following our being requested to extend our Lea Toto Program to take in more Orphans and Vulnerable Children, OVCs. During the first year, which started on 1st October 2019, we will enrol 6000 more children in need. Our new USAID Agreement will continue until 2024.
As already mentioned, the Annual Nyumbani Benefit Gala, with theme, ‘Opening Doors to Bright Futures’ took place in the Fairmont Hotel on 21st September. With 70% of our children now in adolescence, a chief focus is preparing them for a Bright Future after Nyumbani, which has its own challenges. We are so grateful that once again the Benefit Gala was very successful funding-wise, enhanced by the marvellous program with Honorary Hosts Joe and Mika of Morning Joe, a delicious meal, videos and motivating speeches about Nyumbani, and the presenting of Awards which included Protus Lumiti, Chief Manager, Nyumbani Home together with the Elizabeth Glaser Foundation, Kathleen Matthews, long-time Gala MC and Lloydie Zaiser, Kenya Educational Service bi-annual Trips. Our special appreciation to President Charles De Santis and Gala organizer, Jan Conway.
The week after the Gala took me to New York accompanied by Marylynn Qurnell to attend four side sessions at the United Nations Global Assembly, UNGA, starting with the PEPFAR Reception during which COGRI – Nyumbani was acknowledged, then the UNGA Prayer Breakfast and two Faith-Based Organisations meetings. Other events included my giving the Homily on Sunday 22nd at Christ Episcopal Church followed by a Forum during which both Protus and I spoke. I hope that our presence will encourage more parishioners to attend the Kenya Night fundraiser on 26th October. Both Protus and I spoke at Rotary Clubs and I was delighted to attend the 17th Mia Sutphin Picnic Dinner. I am always so happy that my schedule allows me to have personal visits with long-time friends of Fr. D’Agostino and Nyumbani, and, of course, with his brother, Joe and wife, Mary Ellen.
Two weeks in Ireland followed my USA visit when I had time with family and met with our Irish Board, Kenya Orphan Aid Chairs Geraldine and Dermot Martin. This time the Martins had arranged for me to meet with some committed supporters in Malahide near Dublin and I was able to share with them about the founding of Nyumbani and the history of its gradual development into four programs. On 27th October, the Catholic Church in Malahide will have a special collection for Nyumbani. Another Irish Group had a morning coffee fundraiser on 19th October which I just missed. My cousin Clare, of lovely clothes donation fame, arranged for a great family gathering of 30 family members on 14th October, a marvellous opportunity for meeting more family members.
Back in Kenya, the focus in our 3 children programs is on the end-of-year Examinations for Class 8 and Form 4. 308 of our children will sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, 6 in Nyumbani Home, 191 Lea Toto and 111 in Nyumbani Village. 142 Form 4s will sit the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, 3 in Nyumbani Home, 59 Lea Toto and 80 Nyumbani Village. All the other classes are just waiting for the start of the Christmas vacation which begins on 25th October and ends on 6th January. It will be a busy time for our staff!
As always, Sr. Julia and our Art teachers John and Sam ensured that our children participated once again in the Mobile Art School in Kenya competition, MASK. To our delight the high standard of Art in Nyumbani Home was once again acknowledged with Talia, aged 9 winning an award.
While I was away, several groups visited our programs. On 8th October, a team from Elizabeth Glaser Foundation visited Lea Toto Kawangware with a special interest in Third Line ART. We have four children on 3rd Line in this Centre. On 11th October, a USA delegation led by the USAID Kenya team visited Nyumbani Home: Mrs. Christie Mullen, Mrs. Lisa Price and Lt. Col. Jeremy Beaven. They were shown all around Nyumbani and Nyumbani Diagnostic Laboratory. The highlight for them was the Respite Centre which cares for malnourished children from Lea Toto.
On 16th October, Mr. Dustin Kahler M-KOPA Solar and his family visited Nyumbani Home, introduced to us by Erminia Scarcella long-time friends of Nyumbani. For the10th time, Brian Lenehan came from Ireland to assist with preparing our CVTC Certificate 1 and 2 students for their examinations. We were also delighted to welcome three volunteers from Spain to the Village, Beatriz Denche García, Marta Escutia and Carlos Balana.
Since Protus Lumiti left for USA on 23rd August and while he is on leave until 1st November and while I was away, Sr. Tresa Palakudy has been holding the fort. We are very grateful to her for taking on this extra responsibility.
Hoping you will enjoy “DAG Savior of AIDS Orphans.”
Wishing each one God’s special blessing,
Sister Mary Executive Director IBVM