“Share the Journey” Embracing Immigrants

In solidarity with immigrants and refugees who flee their countries mainly due to civil war, Pope Francis last year launched a global solidarity campaign ‘Share the Journey’ aimed at enhancing cohesion and peaceful coexistence between migrants and communities.

Speaking during the launch at St. Peter Square, Rome, Pope Francis said that combating the indifferences in the world today means seeing through the eyes of others rather than turning a blind eye. “Not just to see but to look. Not just to hear but to listen. Not just to meet and pass by but t stop. And don’t just say what a shame, poor people, but allow ourselves to be moved by pity.” Pope Francis said. ‘Share the Journey’ campaign will be coordinated by Caritas Internationalis with other Caritas agencies implementing the same in their respective countries.

As such, Caritas Nairobi through the Urban Refugee Programme has since 2013 been working closely with refugees, empowering them to be self sufficient. The programme mainly targets youth, women and young mothers and so far the project has supported over 1, 000 refugees.  Additionally, Caritas Nairobi provides legal services and micro credits for start-ups.

“Tailoring’ my happiness.” The story of refuge and hope in a foreign land

Every day at 8.30am, Monique Nishimwe, makes way to the Kivuli Vocational Centre, where she is attending a tailoring and dress-making course sponsored by Caritas Nairobi. The sessions start at 9am, so Monique wants to settle down before then.  This has been her morning routine for the last nine months when she was recruited into the Caritas Nairobi Urban Refugee Programme, which focuses on building sustainable and resilient livelihoods by promoting education and vocational skills.

The 20 year old from Rwanda tells me in a rather boastful manner, “Five months into the course, I was able to cut and stitch an outfit, skills I did not have much less dreamt of ever having,” she says as she proceeds to set a bobbin in the sewing machine.

I understand why Monique would want to boast about her newly acquired expertise, it is simply an achievement and in her words, “A source of renewed hope in a foreign land.” Monique is among the 30 refugees who have benefited from the sponsored vocational training in Nairobi’s Riruta area.

The tailoring and dress making course ended last month and already Monique is earning an income. “I repair and design clothes on a regular basis. I do not own a sewing machine yet but whenever I get clients, the Kivuli Centre hosts me. In due time I am sure that I will open my own tailoring shop.”

Monique came to Kenya in 2016 in search of her father after her mother passed on. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Monique’s parents were separated by the war and at the time, Monique’s mother was pregnant with her. Monique was able to locate her father and they currently live together in Riruta. She explains that though they struggle to make ends meet, they are much happier and hopeful.

Alice Mwangi has been teaching at Kivuli Vocational Centre since 2005, the bigest challenge she encounters with refugees is language barrier. In addressing the issue, Caritas Nairobi also sponors a six months basic literacy training course before the refugees proceed to the next stage that is vocational classess. “The basic literacy training has really boosted the teaching process,” says Ms. Alice.

Currently, Kenya is host to over 600,000 refugees with over 80, ooo residing in Nairobi and its environs. If empowered to be independent, this huge refugee population can greatly contribute to the country’s economic and social development.

Under the Relief programme is also the peace building intervention in the slum areas. The peace building activities being implemented in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) targets community members & leaders, school going children and youth aged between 18-35. The initiatives include peace building youth training workshops, peace clubs and annual peace building competition where participants compete in songs, debate and essay writing. The peace building centres are Holy Trinity Parish in Kariobang and St. John Paul in Mathare an outstation of St. Teresa Parish

Self Help Groups: Source of Hope for Widows

 Veronica Wambui, 67, is a member of St. Augustine Self Help Group Juja, she’s a mother of three. She was widowed in 2001 when her beloved husband succumbed to injuries sustained from a fatal road accident. At the time of his death, Wambui’s husband had a loan at St. Augustine Self Help Group. Since her husband had been servicing the loan promptly, the balance due at the time of his death was paid by the loan security fund allowing Wambui to access her husband’s savings in full.This as Wambui explains came as a surprise, “I was not a member of any group at the time therefore was not knowledgeable about the group’s operations. I assumed that since my husband had a loan, the group would not give me any funds,” she says adding that in the midst of misery Wambui had renewed hope from the support she received from the group.

It is from this point that she joined the group and has continued to save. Wambui has taken out several loans from the group to pay school fees for her children and construct rentals from which she earns an income. Currently she owns 15 units, which she rents at between Ksh. 1, 500 and Ksh.5, 000 depending on the size of the house.

“Self Help Groups are very inclusive, members can save as little as Ksh. 200 per month meaning those with meagre earnings can enjoy financial services. Additionally, there is the aspect of security. When my husband died, I was able to recover the shares from the group. Truly my journey with the groups has been fruitful,” she says.

“I Benefited from Kiambu Dairy Project” Edward Kinyanjui 70, Gituamba, Gatundu North

“I met Caritas Nairobi field officers who were at the time mobilizing farmers with cows for the Kiambu  Dairy Project Artificial Insemination services. I was this as an opportunity that would eventually enable this as an opportunity that would eventually enable me supplement my monthly income of between Ksh. 4, 000 and Ksh.6, 000 from increased milk production.

Going by the fact the Caritas Nairobi is a reputable Organisation and it has become a household  name in this region since it has ongoing project, I instantaneously signed up for the project and joined a farmers group, Gituamba Dairy Farmers Group, as the project required.

August last year, my cow was serviced with high quality gender selected semen. The current market price for similar semen is between Ksh8, 000–Ksh. 10, 000, this is quiet costly and there no guarantee that a heifer will be calved.

May this year, as guaranteed, my cow calved a heifer. This is quite encouraging and I am now hopeful that milk production in my farm will also increase. Caritas Nairobi field officers have continuously been training us on livestock keeping and issuing fodder seeds for free.

Majority of farmers in my groups have benefited from the AI services. Out of the 25 groups members , 22 members have had their cows services and are currently awaiting calving. This project has empowered farmers and as a community, we are hopeful that dairy enterprises in this region will develop.”

The Beacon Boy Project

The Boy Child in Kenya has become a subject of discussion for not so good reasons. It has been expressed that while much attention has been given to the girl child, the opposite can be said of the boy child who is believed to be neglected, thereby leading to all sorts of social ills.

In August 2016 when the nation suffered from extremism through burning of schools, a Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Executive Secretary Sammy Borr said the menace that saw dozens of schools razed could be stopped if the boy child was guided and empowered. He said over 80 percent of the schools affected were boys’ schools “Boys are seeking attention by resorting to such activism,” said Borr.

This is a wanting situation and it calls for urgent and purposeful action from all and especially more from men. On the other hand, Leaders in Central Kenya have attributed the sharp increase in drug and alcohol abuse amongst the youths to the neglect of the boy child.

As one Dr. Wahome Ngare, of Don Bosco Church, aptly put it during the AGM of the Archdiocese Catholic Men Association, Social Development Programme, “What we have today is broken masculinity! Leaders without formation. We also have Christians who don’t practice their faith and Africans who don’t practice their culture” . One captivating revelation by Dr. Wahome is that there are more men in prisons than women! What is more, 80 - 90% of the children in prison, both boys and girls, had a problem with their daddy. Either he was absent, abusive or passive. Boys need to be mentored by men to understand authority and how to control their masculinity. Masculinity is raw power; it is like fire. When it is a servant it is very good, when it is the master, it is very destructive.

It is in view of this that Caritas Nairobi wull launch a boy child program, The Beacon Boys Project which, seeks to rescue the boy child by inculcating social values through mentorship and coaching of the young ones. The target of the Beacon boy child program will be the PMC (age 9-13) and MYM (age 14-17). It is expected that every Parish will have a Beacon Boy child Program but those in-charge will be the CMA members for easy management of the program. Each CMA in the Parish will have a man in charge of the boy child program to coordinate the activities and link with the Caritas Office.

Caritas Nairobi will identify and engage facilitators for the boy child programme. The office will also ensure that activities organized take place. Communication between the Parish Program and Caritas Office will be channeled through the CMA leadership in the Parish.

The Gender & Youth Development Programme, the coordinating office for this project, hopes to see a lot of participation from the men who are the sole custodians of this process. We believe that God being on our side, this noble process will bring much to honour Him through the CMA motto; Good Family, Good Church, Good Society!

Project Goal:

“A committed and responsible boy child in the society supported by an empowered man capable and willing to take his roles in the society”

Objectives Program

Overall, The Beacon Boy Child Program through a range of initiatives, is aimed to:

  1. Instill a sense of responsibility in mentorship of the boy child by the men
  2. Instill moral and ethical values to reach boys in all 13 Deaneries in the Archdiocese of Nairobi
  3. Reduce the level of Boy-child school dropout rate
  4. Create a seamless transition from PMC, youth and finally to CMA
  5. Develop an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Intervention Programme
  6. Expand collaborations with other stakeholders in empowering the boy child

Caritas Nairobi Family Network

Caritas Nairobi Family Network (CNFN) was launched on 2nd December 2016 during the Caritas Nairobi annual dinner. The network ‘A Family of Faith and Action’ is comprised of individuals and organisations that have supported and continued to support Caritas Nairobi’s work of improving the social-economic livelihood status of vulnerable families in Kiambu and Nairobi County.

Caritas Nairobi works to pool resources either monetarily, human resources or any in-kind support. We play an active role in the growth and development of communities in which we live. The network is independent and seeks to increase awareness of Caritas Nairobi activities. It works in partnership with educational institutions, corporations, the media, the international governments and other organisations to inform and educate people, to fundraise for activities and other efforts that promote peace, human rights, the environment, children and responsible economic development.

As such, during the year 2016 dinner, the network supported the livelihood of vulnerable children in Rescue Dada Centre and Joy Children Village. CNFN is a committed and diverse group of people that love to make a positive and sustainable contribution through action for development. This year the network is muscling supporting for the Beacon Boys Project “Transforming the Boy Child to a Responsible Man,” that will be implemented in Parishes within in the Archdiocese of Nairobi. The Catholic Men Association will drive this agenda as agents of change.

If you would like to be a part of this network, call us on +254 726 056 763 or Email to communications@caritasnairobi.org.