Dear Friends of Nyumbani,
Greetings to each one as we enter the season of Advent to prepare for the celebration of Christ coming into our world this Christmas. We join with each one in spirit and prayer during these 4 weeks asking God that all of us in our world will unite to bring justice and peace among all peoples and especially reach out to those currently in great need of our care. Fr. Angelo D’Agostino truly modeled reaching out to those in great need in Kenya when he founded Nyumbani in 1992. As always, November 20th was a special day for us as we celebrated the 13th Anniversary of his going to God, thanking God for calling him to reach out to our children in our 3 programs, over 12,000 currently. I hope that each one will be inspired through reading his life story, DAG Savior of AIDS Orphans.
With the terminal examinations in school over, all our Nyumbani children can now enjoy a period of relaxation and time for play and creative activities. Those who completed Primary School have already received their results and are now in a waiting period to get admission to secondary schools. As always performance in the examination varied: Nyumbani Village rejoiced in improved performance with 73 of the 111 students achieving over 50% and 101 over 40%. Nyumbani Home students also performed better. We are still to get results of Lea Toto students.
One activity which marks this time of year is our children going through the Rite of Passage. 3 girls and 4 boys from Nyumbani Home were able to join with a group for this Rite which was organized by List Africa Initiative at St. Joseph Cathedral, Ngong. 56 boys from Lea Toto were part of a group of 120 who went through the Rite, organized by Nyina wa Mumbi Health Service. I was delighted to join with Paul Mulongo, Program Manager and Adolescent Officer, May Chepchirchir for the graduation ceremony and was invited to present the certificates to all the now young men. Nyumbani Village has the capacity to organize the Rite of Passage for their boys and 6 completed their Rite of Passage. For the girls, Lea Toto and Nyumbani Village organized alternative activities, with Lea Toto having a week long transition training for those preparing to join Secondary Schools.
This is also a time for hosting Family Day in Nyumbani Home and Village. The Home welcomed extended family members of our children to come for a celebratory function on 16th November during which we expressed our appreciation and gratitude for their bonding with their family member in the Home and taking them for a holiday over Christmas, a vital preparation for their final reinsertion into the wider community. We have just 31 children now with us who will be especially cared for during this time, with Sr. Julia organizing a variety of fun activities for them. We will have a similar Family Day in Nyumbani Village on 5th December.
Final reinsertion for our young people in Nyumbani Village happens after completion of secondary school/vocational training, since they come from a known home of origin. On 26th November, we gathered in the Village Hall for the graduation ceremony of 81 young people, 71 having completed Form 4 in Lawson High School and 10 Fourth Year in COGRI Vocational Training Centre. It was a beautiful ceremony as those staff, who had accompanied them during their time in Nyumbani Village, some for over 10 years, confirmed for them their readiness to now take responsibility for their life, while encouraging them to always take care of themselves, trusting that God will be with them. In conclusion, each one stood up as I called out their name and I finally declared their graduation from Nyumbani Village. Graduation for 8 Nyumbani Home young people will take place on 14th December.
We were privileged to welcome Her Excellency, Fionnuala Quinlan, Irish Ambassador to Kenya to Nyumbani Head Office and Home on 31st October. She truly enjoyed her visit, especially appreciating how happy and healthy our children are and the lovely environment. Then, on 11th November she brought the Irish Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone to visit us. And, our Nyumbani Home children are invited for a Christmas Party at the Irish Embassy on 16th December. They have already enjoyed one Christmas Party when Prime Bank staff led by Mr. Geoffrey Kiiku, Head of Corporate Banking hosted a fun activity morning followed by lunch here in Nyumbani Home on 15th November, with staff also invited for lunch. Following cutting of a celebratory cake, they presented us with a variety of very generous donations. A visit on 13th November from Gary Cohen, Vice President.
Becton Dickinson is always special. He has been supporting our laboratory almost right from the beginning, knowing Fr.D’ Agostino and his advocacy style! We are very grateful to the Catholic International Community, CIC who have been supporting our Respite Care Centre for the past 3 years and we were delighted that the Community Concern Committee came to visit the Centre on 16th November. To our great joy and especially the joy of Nyumbani Village, Angela de Hoyos is currently with us, ever active in creatively supporting our programs, now as a member of our Spanish Board. And, on 27th November, we were privileged to host Rotary Governor Dr. Urs Herzog from Switzerland to visit our Laboratory and view what Rotary funding has made possible in purchasing equipment.
Unexpectedly, I was invited to a USAID meeting in Johannesburg 4th – 8th November. This was in connection with USAID’s transition from International to local organisations priority. Meetings here in Kenya have also been frequent as, in our case, we begin implementing our new outreach to orphans and vulnerable children, OVC. As well, we are part of the PEPFAR new Faith Organisations initiative of reaching out to the 2 ‘left behind groups’ of children and men, with the goal of having all persons living with HIV access care and treatment which will finally realise the control of the HIV epidemic.
As we approach Christmas preceded by the Thanksgiving Season in USA, I know that giving to those in need arises in the hearts of many people in our world. We currently have a great need: medicine for opportunistic infections, common for children infected with HIV. We used to have a donor for this need but no longer. I appeal for help now from you, Friends of Nyumbani.
May God bless each one abundantly
Sister Mary Executive Director IBVM