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Father Joe Kengah has confirmed that his new church in the beautiful Shimba hills is finished and will be dedicated to "Our Lady of the Assumption". (Pictures taken during construction.)
The church has been completed for £1240, partly with funds from the Bosham Bring and Buy sale which raised £1800. That’s a lot of Kenya shillings – KS 217,800 – and shillings go a long way in this underprivileged parish in southern Kenya.
Parishioners have spartan surroundings for their dynamic worship.
Crafted stonework is finely executed to make the altar and pedestal for Our Lady’s statue.
There are seven out stations in Father Joe’s parish – linked by unmetalled roads: hard going in the rainy season.
But while faith is strong, the physical health of the people suffers with deprivation and disease. Father Joe became aware of the impact of epilepsy - fits – among his parishioners. So he set up a medical unit to tackle this condition, which is routinely treated in UK but has social penalties in Kenya borne of fear and prejudice.
He has sent us an account of this year’s achievements. While reading it, imagine what such a programme would cost in England – then see what can be done in Kenya with modest funding from UK.
Father Joe reports:
"The community strongly holds the traditional belief that epilepsy is brought about as punishment for past sins, witchcraft, evil spirit, or a curse. The sick person brings shame to the family, therefore is often isolated from the community and neglected. To treat epilepsy, the common practice is through the use of witch-doctor (Mganga) to drive away the evil spirit, curse or appease it. In extreme cases, a child could even be abandoned or starved to death."
So Father Joe’s Unit seeks to
…enable children/adults with epilepsy live a life with dignity, and to sensitize the community to epilepsy; give epilepsy education awareness in the community in order to change attitudes and practices and to have the community take part in the social development of the epilepsy child/person.
To date there are 35 children, 22 teenagers and 20 adults under treatment.
It all started with an Epilepsy Day Clinic in Mivumoni on 12th January 2002, then every 2nd Friday of the month, held at the Mivumoni dispensary clinic. The Action plan had three phases:
The achievements in just one year:
Father Joe’s astonishing and economical budget for 2002-3 runs like this:
|Medicine:||130,000 Kenya Shillings (that’s £1,074 in UK money)|
|Follow up programme:||15,000 KS (£124)|
|Equipment:||10,000 KS (£83)|
|Office:||10,000 KS (£83)|
|Transport:||15,000 KS (£124)|
And the new Church of Our Lady of the Assumption has been finished for 150,000 KS - £1240.
The Bosham Bring and Buy sale’s £1,800 was a Godsend – warmly acknowledged by Father Joe to Father Kieron and parishioners at Bosham.
Father Joe will visit our Parish next year. He sends Christmas Greetings and Blessings to all in Bosham and Chichester.
Population – about 31 million.
About one person in three is a Catholic.
The average life expectancy of a Kenyan is just 43 yrs (UK - rising 80)