By Sarah Mac Donald - 22 November, 2015
A delegation from the dioceses of Tuam and Galway have returned from their annual church mission trip with Trócaire which this year took them to the slum area of Nakuru in Kenya where HIV and gender-based violence is on the increase.
Kenya will be the focus of Trócaire’s 2016 Lenten campaign and the nine delegates saw where the Catholic aid agency has been working to improve local lives.
The mission trip was led by Trócaire’s country director for Kenya, Paul Healy, who has been working in the most poverty stricken areas of the east African country for almost a decade.
Among the delegates who took part in the visit were Fr Tom Brady and Maura Garrihy on behalf of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora and Siobhán Bradley for the Archdiocese of Tuam.
Speaking about her visit, Maura Garrihy commented, “Poverty is something real in Kenya. It has a real smell and it has a real face. It exists on a very large scale.”
“For many it looks like no shoes, no access to support, corruption in its leaders and institutions, no medical support, HIV, living conditions we can’t even imagine in the ‘developed’ world, commercial sex just for ‘survival’, drought, no means of farming or vegetation, filthy water, no access to education, and much, much more.”
Some projects and issues highlighted included the problems faced in the slum area of Kangemi in central Nairobi and a more rural slum in Nakuru.
Trócaire through its work with local partners has put in place programmes to address some of the issues.
One “very effective programme” the delegates visited is the Love and Hope Centre in Nakura which is run by Sr Patricia Speight from Belfast and her team. There they heard the stories of the young people availing of this life-saving service.
“Thank you Trócaire for not forgetting about me” were the words of one young bed-ridden mother of two.
They also visited to the family chosen as the focus of next year’s Lenten campaign, in Tharaka Nithi, a rural village three hours outside Nairobi.
There they met Teresina, a young mother of six whose husband had to leave home to look for work due to the serious consequences of climate change.
Their story echoes the lives of so many in this rural village as up to 80% of families in this region do not have enough food.
Siobhán Bradley recalled, “Here we saw the stark and cold reality of poverty at its highest as we met with children living in huts the size of our bathrooms, who had no shoes, change of clothes, and with one child even wearing a Facebook t-shirt without an awareness of what this multi-million social media website is. The gap between their world and ours was certainly highlighted once more.”
“Trócaire could not carry out this invaluable work to support and empower these people without the generosity of the Irish people. As we approach this Year of Mercy (Trócar in Irish) let us all dedicate ourselves ever more intently to #jointhefightforjustice,” Siobhán Bradley urged.
For more information on Trócaire’s work see www.trocaire.org