From the Diocese of Nairobi, Kenya, a report on 3 decades of Orthodox missionary ministry in Kenya
My dear brothers,
Rejoice in the Lord! I am particularly happy and moved to be in touch with you from the missionary Diocese of Kenya, which is located in the eastern part of the African Continent. With God’s help, I have completed 30 years in Africa, 20 of which as a humble worker of the mysteries of God’s Grace, although I first set my foot on the African land in 1977. Milestones which have marked the biggest part of my earthly life.
Like every year, this year there have been consecrations of new churches. His Grace, since the day he became Bishop, has consecrated over one hundred holy churches throughout Kenya. There are twenty more to follow.
Spiritual and Social Education
Last week, with God’s help we had the great blessing to declare the beginning of the new academic year at the Orthodox Patriarchal School “Archbishop Makarios the 3rd”,which has been operating since1982.Thirty years of continuous offer and strong presence of the Lord among us.
During the Divine liturgy the choir of the Patriarchal School sang melodiously in Greek, English, Swahili, and in other local dialects. This year the School has 50 seminarists coming from Kenya and other African countries: Madagascar, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe.
The Kenyan seminarists belong to the following tribes: Kikuyu, Nandi, Luo,Luyia, Masaii, Turkana, Kamba. Among the various activities of the School there is one of utmost importance, the translation project of the liturgical books, services, and mysteries into the local dialects, not only of Kenya, but also of the other African countries, too. So far over 250 different books have been released in more than thirty dialects.
In the same place which hosts the Patriarchal school, there are also the Technical School with 700 students (male and female), the Orthodox College of Africa with 400 students (male and female), the Schools of Sewing, Computer Science, Social Studies, the Kindergarten and the Primary school of Saint Clement, with 450 poor children who are offered free of charge studies and on a daily basis breakfast and lunch, stationery, uniform and medical treatment.
Our Primary School was characterized the best and most perfect among thirty other primary schools of the district. All the teachers there are graduates of our local Orthodox Pedagogical School. The six best students who graduated last year are now in the first grade of one of the 15 junior high schools at the Diocese of Kenya.
In addition, there are 30 kindergartens and primary schools and 15 junior high schools. In most primary schools, there is free breakfast and meal on a daily basis.
It is worth mentioning- that in our school the services of matins and vespers are conducted daily, while every Friday there is Divine Liturgy. Especially at the Patriarchal School there is Divine Liturgy, vespers and compline after dinner on a daily basis. This way, the children and the young are spiritually reborn and reformed.
Giving a helping hand to the weak
Equally important is the contribution of the Church as regards the field of orphans. Thanks to it, nowadays there are 3 orphanages operating in different regions, offering board and lodging, education etc. Here as well the daily schedule includes the Orthodox Christian Faith, since our priests participate actively in the children’s daily life through the services and also through teaching.
As regards the field of health, the participation of the local Church is intense. For this purpose, there are medical centers operating in most of the parishes, especially in the remote regions, where there is free medical treatment thanks to the frequent visits of the volunteer doctors who come from Greece, Cyprus, America, Finland, Netherlands, or even from far-off Australia. Quite often, for serious cases that require operation, the Diocese undertakes all the necessary expenses on credit and after a special agreement with the Coptic Hospital of Nairobi.
His Grace often tours in the country and gives out clothes, shoes, stationery and books as well as food to the destitute, irrespective of race or religion. There are also areas which have been plagued by the civil war and keep asking for continuous support and help. In this case there is bed and blanket distribution.
The Diocese, in cooperation with local and international organizations, is fighting at the front for stifling the plague of AIDS. There are special seminars particularly illuminating for the young held by speakers who are experts on this subject.
Among the various programs, it is important that we mention the way the catechists are trained, which has been operating like that for 25 years. Every Saturday young men and women gather from the parishes of Nairobi and the outskirts and are taught for two years lessons for teachers-catechists from the professors of the Patriarchal School. The same program is operating in other regions of Kenya as well.
A considerable part of the inhabitants, especially those from the schools in remote areas, lack clean, drinkable water and electric power. For this reason, the Diocese is pretty active in both these fields by undertaking the drilling of wells in barren areas so that the inhabitants and the school children are no longer deprived of water.
There are also organized teams of young men and women, mothers and fathers who hold regular gatherings with educational classes, seminars of orthodox spirituality, music performances, song festivals, traditional dances and athletic events.
These are the most important happenings that are taking place within the vicinity of our Diocese.
Asking for your prayers and your good thinking.