St. Margaret’s to host fund raiser for displaced people in East African nation
By Luke Eggleston
SUN staff writer
With crises rising and falling in African nations such as Sudan or Zimbabwe, it is easy to forget that Kenya very recently experienced a similar situation.
Kenya is often believed to be one of Africa’s more successful nations. However, the violence that descended upon Kenya in the wake of its controversial election during the holiday season, placed that country squarely in the international spotlight.
The crisis forced roughly 600,000 people to flee and, according to Reuters operated Web site www.alertnet.org, 300,000 Kenyans remain homeless.
In order to help support the displaced peoples, St. Margaret’s Parish in Mattydale will host a special Mass and reception Friday, Oct. 3, starting at 6 p.m.
Last year, Holy Family Church in Fairmount hosted an event to benefit the East Pokot Medical Project of the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru, Kenya, a mobile clinic in a very remote region in Kenya maintained by sisters who provide medicine to Kenyans living in isolated areas.
Fathers Joachim Kinuthia, Cleophas Tuka, Richard Prior, Timothy Elmer, Paul Mwangi, Thomas Kobuszewski, Paul Machira, Severine Yagaza and Philip Brockmyre were all on the altar for the Mass along with Deacon Nick Alvero.
The Mass included children from St. Margaret’s Parish singing tradition Swahili songs and children from the Bishop’s Academy at Holy Family singing “Jambo Bwana” (Hello Mister). Following the Mass, a fund-raising reception was held, which surpassed the mission goal of $15,000.
Father Tuka said that last year’s event was very successful not only in raising money for the mobile clinic, but also in transmitting elements of Kenyan culture.
“I think the response from the people [of the Syracuse Diocese] was quite positive,” Father Tuka said. “Many people said that they would like to have more of these events.”
This year, the Diocese of Nakuru, which was among the areas most significantly impacted by the post-election crisis, asked its priests abroad to help those displaced. Father Tuka said that he hopes the Oct. 3 fund-raiser will generate $20,000.
Before the Mass, a slide show presentation will display some of the adverse conditions confronting Kenyans in the Nakuru Diocese.
Father Kinuthia is the parochial vicar at St. Margaret’s and Father Tuka noted that the parish has a long history of enthusiasm for the Kenyans’ mission.
“They have been very supportive,” Father Tuka said.
Following Mass, a reception will be held in the parish hall. The reception will feature hors d’oeuvres, African music and an African fashion show. Father Tuka said that the fashion show is part of the Kenyan priests’ larger mission in the Syracuse Diocese.
“Our mission here is to exchange some aspects of our faith but also an exchange of our culture,” Father Tuka said.
Father Tuka was one of several diocesan priests who were detained in Kenya during the calamity that followed the election.
In a report on Kenya explaining the crisis, Father Tuka detailed the result of the crisis.
“The aftermath of the election is one of grief and anxiety,” he wrote. “This crisis continues to dent the image of a country once seen as a haven of peace in the East African region.”
Kenya has yet to return to a relative level of stability. According to Father Tuka’s letter, over 500,000 Kenyans faced unemployment following the crisis.
“It’s dehumanizing,” Father Tuka said. “The people are living in camps and the conditions in these camps are deplorable.”
Father Tuka elaborated that not only are the camps short on medical supplies and food; they have become breeding grounds for disease. Most of the displaced are now unemployed and very few children are able to attend school.
Father Tuka said the needs of the displaced must be addressed promptly.
“The sooner something can be done for these people the better because the conditions in the camps are not conducive to humans,” he said.
Father Tuka is also overseeing an on-going fund raiser that asks people in the diocese to donate $10 monthly to the cause of starving children in Kenya. For more information, call (315) 488-3139.