Dear Friends of Nyumbani,

Greetings to each one from Kenya as we come to the end of the 10 weeks since COVID-19 was detected in our country. With more equipment and reagents, our health personnel are now able to test on a larger scale than previously. Currently, 1,161 cases have been identified with 380 recoveries and 50 deaths. To our great relief, all our children and staff are well and safe. We thank God for protecting us all in Nyumbani and continue to pray with you and all our world that soon we will be able to control and eliminate COVID-19. News about the vaccine research is very promising.

We have one great concern, however, regarding our Lea Toto families. With the partial lock down in Nairobi, more of the bread winners in these families have lost their jobs while others are no longer able to operate their small businesses on the side of the road in the informal communities. As a result, 1500 families are now in need of monthly food support. Happily, my Past Students from Loreto High School, Limuru where I was a Principal for 12 years have responded to this need and their contribution has helped us purchase maize, beans, porridge and oil this week for these families. Another great support just received from Compassion International for Nyumbani Village will help toward providing a month’s supply of food for our 946 children and 95 grandparents in the Village. We now foresee that this need for food is going to continue, so I must now fundraise to cover this additional cost so that we are able to continue providing these families with food. One situation I heard about tore at my heart: One evening a mother, with her children crying for food and she having none, put stones into water in her cooking pot and placed it on the fire so that her children would believe that soon the food would be ready, she hoping that the children would finally tire and fall asleep! Any contribution no matter how small will help us continue to provide food for these desperate families.

There is good news as well. Now that the reopening of school is not going to happen in the near future, I was so happy to hear from our Managers in Nyumbani Home and Village, at our management meeting yesterday that more opportunities for learning are becoming available through radio and TV. In addition, we are challenging our children and adolescents to develop other interests like new hobbies, creative activities like writing a story or poetry, composing songs. And signs of this happening are there. Sr. Tresa Palakudy, new Program Manager in Nyumbani Home, is delighted that at last she has an Assistant. Sr. Eunice Atieno, one of her SABS Sisters joined Nyumbani last Monday, 18th May.

Shortly after hearing that our Farm Manager in Karen Farm, John Mwanzia will be leaving us, our Deputy Executive Director, Protus Lumiti had the great fortune of meeting up with a couple, Michael and Florence who are experienced farmers, have been in contact with us since 1991 and often bring farm produce from their own farm to Nyumbani Home. On hearing that we needed to find another manager, they offered to help us themselves. Soon, we saw red soil coming into the farm, Michael having persuaded the Chinese contractor, who was supervising the new dual carriageway nearby, to give us the soil for free, transport costs only to be covered by us. Now the area with new soil is being planted, so we have new hope for further productivity in the farm.

And, further development in Nyumbani Village: We are finally able to construct a rainwater catchment pond to receive the rainwater from our 18 recently built greenhouses, our cost-sharing for Phase One of the Global Environment Facility, GEF grant which further solar-powered our Clinic and Laboratory. This will enable us to continue with Phase 2 of this grant, the building of 6 more greenhouses.

The virtual world is gradually taking over in Nyumbani. In addition to webinars organized weekly by ASAP, we have local virtual meetings for USAID Implementing Partners, webinars on Gender Based Violence which, sadly, is increasing in the COVID-19 era and and I was able to participate in the Ordination Ceremony of a former Nyumbani Home locum staff, Benson Lotiang’a, now Fr. Benson in Cincinatti. All the ASAP training is virtual. Then we had a virtual Board meeting, a virtual Executive Committee meeting, and, yesterday, we were able to include the Village Manager, Raphael Ngang’a in our management meeting by having him join by Google meet.

We in Nyumbani are united with all in our world in spirit and prayer during Laudato Si’ week which began on 16th May and ends on 25th May, the day 5 years ago, Pope Francis signed this Encyclical for publication. With dreadful floods happening in our country, demolishing homes, with many losing their lives, (6 times more than deaths from COVID-19), together with swarms of locusts destroying our food crops, we in Kenya are only too aware of the imperative action we need to take to protect our environment. Having now to cope with health and economic tragedies caused by COVID-19, may we be further motivated to ensure that the current climate takeover in our world is not allowed to continue. As we place all our trust in God that He will see us through our present challenges, we need to play our part through action.

Happy Eid al Fitr to our Muslim friends and God bless each one,

Sister Mary Owens IBVM Executive Director

22nd May 2020

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