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Father Joe Kengah spent August and part of September in England – assisting at Hemel Hempstead and at St Richard’s. Thanks to help from us (notably from his supporters at Our Lady of the Assumption at Bosham), he has made rapid progress in his unique mission at Mivumoni.
He gave us accounts of his activities and future objectives:
His pioneering clinic treating victims of epilepsy opened in 2001 and now has more than one hundred clients. This disabling disease, quite common in Kenya, is devastating to those who cope with the fits that can prevent people enjoying a normal life. Medicines are available at the clinic started by Fr Joe. He aims to help children and adults with epilepsy to live a life with dignity, to sensitize the community to the reality of the disease (nothing to do with the devil!) and encourage local people to assist in the social development of the clinic’s epilepsy clients. He reports that the project has improved not only the community but the individual clients. "It’s moving to see changes in their way of living and the grateful smile they carry around them. Because of their living evidence, more are encouraged to come forward to undergo medication."
Fr Joe is proud of Juliana M., a bright girl who suffered her first frightening fit at age 13 and visited the clinic. Now, after treatment that normalised her life, she is active in the parish youth group and has been awarded a diploma from her tailoring course at Mombasa Polytechnic. She will need to take her medication every month, but keeps pace with her friends.
Another success is Josphat M. who contracted epilepsy at age 5 years, but family prejudice shunned a medical diagnosis. In December '03 he was suffering several fits a day, fearful of people, unable to control his shaking limbs and body. Staff at the clinic treated him for a year – reducing the fits to twenty a month and recently down to five a month. Now he can fend for himself and makes hats and mats for a living.
Most poignant of all is "case 84" – Mutunga J. He is a toddler who had febrile convulsions at the age of 1½ due to malaria; he became blind and epileptic, with weak legs, unable to stand on his own. The future would be grim – unable to attend school, unable to fend for himself – utterly dependent on poor relatives. Now Fr Joe’s clinic is getting medical assistance for all his ailments. Fr Joe hopes he may regain his sight and strength – but your prayers are needed.
The medical team needs to travel around their vast region. One in four of their clients leaves home a day early and stays overnight before treatment. A mobile clinic could go out to clients unable to leave their families or find time to travel on foot. Fr Joe notes "It’s one of our dreams to be mobile. One client used to be brought in from miles away, using a wheelbarrow. She died early in 05".
To sum up:
Goats play an important part in village/family economies. Fr Joe’s Mission has imported billy goats from Switzerland, and arranged for them to breed with local goats – greatly improving the quality and quantity of milk.
Bright young people need help to go through school and train to become leaders in their communities. Fr Joe is grateful for pioneering sponsorship from a Chichester family trust which has given the scheme a marvellous start. He would welcome people to club together to help students like Edwin Kamiti, 14, who’s keen on biology and aims to become a doctor.
Winnie Otieno is 16, her favourite subject is history and her goal is to become a teacher.
There are others coming along. Each scholar would need £300 a year for uniform and fees – for four years. Who will help? Several donors could club together. Please contact the parish office for more information.
And Fr Joe’s building programme is impressive – eight churches in service, and he’s building two more!
Bosham’s bring and buy sales at Our Lady of the Assumption have generated thousands of pounds for Mivumoni – see the parish bulletin for the next.
Fr Joe sent this message before leaving for Kenya:
Thank you! We are grateful to you, our partners, who have made it possible for the project to serve the epilepsy clients of the community of Mivumoni. Blessings be upon you.