In a classroom, Cedric Shadrack, a student at St. John Bosco's in Kenya, completes a school assignment
Cedric Shadrack, a student at St. John Bosco's in Kenya, completes a school assignment

Carrying the Cross of Kenya’s Street Children During a Pandemic

Progress on the Lenten outreach supporting St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Center

Over the 40 days of the 2020 Lenten season, parishes across the U.S. came together to fast, pray and give on behalf of Kenya’s street children and St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Center in Kitale. Through compassion and sacrificial giving from generous parishioners, 153 children at the Center have been given a new start. This empowered the Diocese to minister to children during the COVID-19 pandemic — providing a lifeline of hope!

COVID-19 has limited normal activities, but St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Center is adapting and making a difference by helping children in difficult situations. When challenging circumstances arise, the Church is God’s instrument of grace and mercy.

153 Children Supported in a Pandemic

During the past few months, COVID-19 has disrupted all of our lives. The ministry of St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Center was no exception. In March, schools and community learning centers were closed by the Kenyan government to limit community transmission of COVID-19, and when classes were suspended, all the resident children were sent home to live with their parents or guardians full time. The most pressing need for those children shifted from education to nutritious food. The resident children  received three hot meals a day when they were living at the Center from Monday to Saturday and the Center ensured that their guardians had food for them when they went home on Saturday nights. They were at risk now that the center was closed down and would be living with their guardians full time.

Food Relief for Families in Need

The compassion of U.S. parishes couldn’t have come at a better time. Thanks to this support, St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Center continued serving children enrolled in its program through food relief. In March, each family received: 200 pounds of maize, 20 pounds of beans, 2 liters of cooking oil and 4 bars of soap. This gave families the resources to survive for two months, so another package of food relief was provided in June. Food packages were delivered by a staff member on a motorcycle taxi to ensure social distancing was maintained by the families.

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Change of Educational Plans

School closures have limited educational opportunities, and children enrolled in the program don’t have internet access at home, or televisions to watch the government programmed classes or parents who can help them with classwork. At this point, schools are expected to reopen in January 2021, but there’s no guarantee of that date as it is dependent on the COVID-19. Here’s the current status of each group of children enrolled in St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Center’s program:

  •     ●  Resident children in nonformal school: No classes or at-home learning, but food packages have been delivered.
  •     ●  Resident children enrolled in the government primary or secondary school: Parents are asked to instruct children at home, but this may not be possible due to a lack of technological resources and limited parental literacy.
  •     ●  Reintegrated students attending local Catholic boarding schools: Students have been given printed materials they need to study from home.
  •     ●  Catholic secondary school (high school) students: Students have been given printed materials they need to study from home.
  •     ●  University and vocational school students: Most of these students are able to study online with their instructors.
  •     ●  Students preparing for the National Entrance Exams for high school and university: All exams are postponed until 2021.

Growing in Wisdom and Faith Through Spiritual Formation

Students of St. John Bosco are living, breathing testimonies to the faithfulness of God. They go to Mass, pray in the center’s peaceful prayer garden and attend Pastoral Program Instruction (PPI), which classes that engage the children through song, dance, prayer and Bible stories. With this instruction, six children chose to receive the sacraments of Confirmation and Baptism this year before the virus began to spread. Now these young people will go forward, equipped not only with intellectual wisdom but also with a foundation in spiritual truth.

Isaac Moding is achieving more than he ever thought possible thanks to support of compassionate Catholics and the St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Center.
Isaac Moding (center, image on the right) is achieving more than he ever thought possible thanks to support of compassionate Catholics and the St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Center.

St. John Bosco Student to Pursue Medical Degree: Meet Isaac

Isaac Moding represents a wonderful example of St. John Bosco’s positive impact on children’s lives. This is a mission that does more than address immediate needs — it transforms lives and produces long-term blessings for their families and the community.

In 2006, Isaac was rescued from the streets of Kitale. His family had fled from Lodwar Region in northern Kenya to escape drought and starvation. They settled in a slum called Jamanoor, where they lived in an igloo-shaped house made of sticks, mud and plastic bags. In place of drought, they and their neighbors faced epidemics of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Without good employment options, Isaac’s family had no money to send Isaac to school, and he spent his time begging for food just to survive.

When Isaac was rescued by the St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Center, his days of begging came to a long-overdue end. Instead of struggling to survive, Isaac finally had the chance to pursue his education.

As the teachers at St. John Bosco prepared Isaac to integrate into the formal school system, they discovered that he was a very bright student. He was enrolled at St. Mary Immaculate Primary Boarding School, a Catholic school run by a local order of Kenyan sisters. There, he flourished academically, acing his exams and earning admittance to Mother of Apostles Seminary High School. Isaac joined the school science club and the Young Christian Society and was chosen to be a class prefect (similar to a class president).

A year and a half ago, Isaac graduated from high school. That was a tremendous achievement for a young man who had spent much of his formative years without any formal education. But this year, his story got even better: Isaac was accepted and enrolled in the nursing program at Great Lakes University of Kisumu! That makes him the tenth St. John Bosco graduate to pursue a medical career. In fact, several graduates currently work as nurses and clinical staff. They are all proof positive that this program makes a difference to the community!

Once a street-child himself, Rodgers Wafula is passing on the hope of Christ to the next generation at St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Center.

From Street Child to Teacher: Meet Rodgers

In 2003, 9-year-old Rodgers Wafula was rescued from life on the streets of Kitale. His grandmother was his guardian, but she just couldn’t afford to pay for school supplies. Instead of getting an education, Rodgers spent his days on the streets begging for food.

After starting in St. John Bosco’s program, he began informal schooling at the center. The caring staff helped him catch up to his peers, and he was soon enrolled in St. Mary Immaculate Primary School, a Catholic school run by a local order of Kenyan sisters. While he attended the school, Rodgers was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church. Thanks to the support of the program, after primary school, he graduated from Immaculate Conception Boys’ High School.

Rodgers wanted to continue his education and help other children discover a love for learning. He made his dream of becoming a teacher possible by attending Madonna Teachers’ Training College and earning a diploma in Early Childhood Education and Development.

Last year, St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Center hired him to teach their informal education classes for children recently admitted to the program and to lead PPI once a week. Rodgers is uniquely qualified to teach and mentor these students since he has firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to be in their shoes.

Rodgers’ life shows the long-term investment the center makes in children — he’s a full-circle transformation story! Rodgers not only has escaped the cycle of poverty but also is giving back and helping others do the same. Rodgers has the ability to help the children he is teaching see God’s mercy and know that they are loved and have a greater purpose.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them;
for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”

Matthew 19:14

Helping Street Children in Crisis

U.S. Catholic parishioners’ commitment to pray, fast and give has eternal consequences for street children in Kenya. One hundred fifty-three children had their needs met during a worldwide pandemic. Please join us in praying that the children are able to return to school in January 2021 and resume the life-changing education made possible by you and other supporters.

For children in St. John Bosco’s program, the compassion of U.S. parishes reinforces the fact that their heavenly Father loves them unconditionally. We pray that the Lord will bless parishes for their faithful support!

Donate Monthly to Provide Lasting Hope

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Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2021, the close of our ministry’s new fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.