The team of six from Drumglass and four from St Columba’s Portadown,
enjoyed an amazing trip where we got to meet some wonderful people, get involved in some really important work and above all, serve God in a very practical way.
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It’s great to be able to report back to the Parishes after the Kuvuka Daraja team’s amazing trip to Kenya to work with our partners in All Saints Cathedral and the Urban Development Programme.
The team of six from Drumglass and four from St Columba’s Portadown, enjoyed an amazing trip where we got to meet some wonderful people, get involved in some really important work and above all,
serve God in a very practical way.
The group that we spent most time with were four amazing and Godly ladies who helped create the UDP over twenty years ago and who are still very much involved in all that goes on. Isabelle, Louise, Lucy and Kathleen – you are an inspiration and a cause for much rejoicing!
We spent some time in the All Saints Cathedral complex and were really well received by the Provost Rev Sammy, Assistant Provost Rev Evans, Rev James from the Social Outreach Mission Committee (SOM) and many others who made us feel very welcome. As well as meeting the staff team in All Saints Cathedral, we attended worship and a concert as well as several other cathedral based events.
It was great to catch up with some old friends including Eric, who acted as our guide for several days and Rev John Mark Oduor who invited the entire team for a meal at his home. Canon Philip, Chair of SOM, also invited us to dinner with his wife and family.
We were delighted to meet up with our good friends Ronnie and Maggie Briggs as they visited us at the Guest House. It has been great to catch up with them and hear how the second CMSI team to Kenya got on in Kajiado. We were blessed by our visit to the Kindergarten at the Cathedral and Madaraka School also run by the Cathedral. We have been overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome from teachers and children and have been so thrilled to be invited into classes and to take part in Sports' Day preparations. These schools are well equipped and resourced and were a useful comparator for our time in Tujisaidie. David and Susan were able to get a close look at how the schools in Nairobi operate and were able to exchange many stories comparing and contrasting the different approaches with their schools at home.
Our primary role was to work with the community in Kayole and in Tujisaidie School in particular as part of the Urban Development Programme, run by the Cathedral. During our time in the community and the school we made many friendships and were overwhelmed by the support we had from all in Kayole. Lucy and Esther from the local community and John, the school principal along with his staff have been central to this. The stars of the show however, where the children in the community and the school; their happiness, excitement, enthusiasm and in particular their very visible faith were a constant inspiration. Nicole and Zoya in particular made many new friends with the young people she spent time with.
On our middle Saturday we took part in the 'More Than Just A Meal' project with the Tumaini African Foundation (TAF), led by our good friend Anthony. It was hugely inspiring to see the work that Anthony has done with these young people and to pray that this becomes a model for other communities. We have just learned that Anthony got engaged just after we left, congratulations Anthony!
The team’s original objective was to paint the school but by the time we left the school, as well as the painting the interior and exterior of the school, each classroom had fluorescent lights fitted and electrical sockets installed. This work also allowed us to journey alongside John and Walter, two local men, a painter and electrician respectively and they became key members of our team. Harold picked up much of the electrical workload and the two David’s and Lisa did their best to not make too much of a mess of the painting! We were also delighted to be able to provide additional financial support that allowed all residual work to be completed following our departure.
As you might imagine, our last day in the school was both exhilarating and very emotional. We joined with the staff and pupils to take part in the weekly assembly, as we worshipped, prayed, read God's word and also celebrated the work that had been completed. We were deeply touched by the reaction of children and teachers, including the messages that the children had added to the blackboards. It was the first of many emotional goodbyes as we moved towards the end of our trip.
Isabelle from CMS Ireland said of the morning’s activities:
“We started the day with the school assembly, where we were beautifully overwhelmed with the children's loving messages to us on every single one of the school's blackboards -- they had come in early to write these messages for us, and we were told that some 70 of them had been in tears at our imminent departure, and even the Principal, John, had to retire to his office for a moment. While Louise, Lucy and I sorted the clothes and other gifts from the Kuvuka Daraja team, they participated in the Assembly and, by the time we joined them, were entertaining the school with some line dancing. There followed some choruses and a beautiful address to the school by David M, following a reading by Lesley."
We also spent some time in Bahati Community Secondary School, a neighbouring school that is fed by Tujisaidie. Along with the principal Patrick, we met staff and pupils as well as Isabelle’s Haiku poetry class. The school is located beside the city dump and conditions both around and in the school had a real impact on the team. We are delighted to be supporting some infrastructure work to floors and stairs in the school as well as opening up a future partnership between the school and St Kevin’s Lisnaskea,
where Andrea teaches.
Our final full day in Kenya included a visit to Nairobi National Park where we were incredibly fortunate to see lions, zebras, black rhinos, gazelles, impalas, giraffes and buffalos in the wild. We also saw cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and crocodiles in the nearby Safari Walk.
We have been richly blessed during our time in Kenya as we deepened existing relationships and made many new friends. We are hugely indebted to Isabelle and Louise, for their incredible efforts in guiding us over the two weeks and their unwavering commitment to the UDP. We have also been able to discuss a range of projects with our partners in the UDP and are excited for what the future holds as we explore further partnership opportunities and see the work commence on additional classrooms, in part funded by the financial support from St Columba’s and Drumglass Parishes.
Lucy, John and the staff and pupils of the school have left an indelible mark on our lives and the work and direction of our local experts John and Walter has been immense. Eddie our driver and Marion from the team at the Cathedral have shown us a level of commitment, hospitality and friendship that we will never forget. The team back at base in CMS Ireland, especially Gillian and Roger were key to our preparations and were a huge support throughout our trip. All of these individuals plus many others we met along the way have changed us and our earnest prayer is that we can, with God's guidance, become better servants both in Kenya and at home as we settle back into life in Northern Ireland.
Please continue to pray for all our friends and partners in Kenya and for the team as we share our stories at home. We needed and have greatly appreciated your prayers for safe travel and God's guidance.
The Kuvuka Daraja Team - Andrea, Susan, Nicole, Lesley, Lisa, Zoya, Tom, Harold, David T and David M