Dear Friends of Nyumbani,
Greetings to each one at this time of celebrating the Christian Feast of Pentecost – the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise to his apostles that he would send the Holy Spirit to them so that they could proclaim the Gospel message far and wide.
The school/college vacation coincided this year with the Eastertide celebration which was enhanced for our Nyumbani Home children by Sr. Julia’s program, culminating in a fashion show and Olympics. In addition, our computer officer, Ivan organized an IT program for a cross section of the children during which they learned to do programming. We were invited to view them doing this on the last day. What an achievement! In Nyumbani Village our volunteers organized an inter-cluster sports tournament which spanned over 2 weeks.
With great sadness we learned on 20th April of the passing away of our COGRI Board Chairperson, Prof. Dominic Makawiti RIP. Prof. Makawiti was chairing a Commission meeting outside of Nairobi when he suddenly took ill and passed away in a few hours. Prof. Makawiti was associated with Nyumbani from the early days as a consultant to Fr. Angelo D’Agostino. He later joined the COGRI Board and took over as Chairperson in 2003. With his wealth of knowledge, and vast experience of life in Kenya and also internationally, together with gifted leadership and his commitment to Fr. D’Agostino’s vision and mission we were privileged to have him guide Nyumbani over 15 years. We shall miss him greatly. He leaves behind his wife, Beatrice and three children; Jasper, Paul and Maria. A Requiem Mass was held at St. Paul’s Chapel, University of Nairobi on 3rd May, preceded by a procession from the University of Nairobi where Prof. Makawiti lectured, led by a large group of Professors. 25 of our Nyumbani Home children presented a moving appreciation of Prof. Makawiti during the Mass and I was also asked to speak. Amb. Afande, former Chairman, Protus and I travelled on 5th May for the burial service in Nyakach, Kisumu County. May Prof. Makawiti now rest in peace with God.
On 25th April we had another shock when our Nyumbani Home graduate, John M suddenly passed away R.I.P. John had been hospitalized for 8 weeks, discharged and had visited us in Nyumbani Home. We laid John to rest on 2nd May at his family home in Kiambu County. Protus, myself, staff and a large group of graduates were able to gather at the mortuary for a short prayer service and then went in convoy for a Requiem Mass in John’s home parish followed by burial. May John rest in peace with God in the life of the Resurrection. With Christine and Mary K. passing away in February and John M. in April, it has been an especially pain filled time for us all especially for our Nyumbani Home graduates. We are reaching out to them as best we can to comfort and support them and help them continue to live with hope.
These last weeks in Lea Toto has been a time of USAID meetings refining our strategies and submitting plans with data to achieve the new goal of the PEPFAR Efficiency Action Agenda to increase transparency, oversight and accountability to ensure funding is optimally invested and tracked. This has invited us into further in-depth analysis of our performance, culminating on Friday 18th May with a programme tracking meeting during which each Lea Toto Centre presented in detail their current situation which truly evidenced the high standards in Lea Toto. From the Care and Treatment perspective the emphasis is on having all our children have an undetectable viral load. We have hope to reach all our 2017/2018 targets by the end of September.
Earlier this year we had a visit from Rachel Golin, Senior Technical Advisor, Pediatric and Maternal Clinical Branch, Washington. She visited Lea Toto Kawangware and Nyumbani Home and Laboratory. She was so impressed by her experience that she has written an article for the USAID Frontlines Magazine https://blog.usaid.gov/2018/05/witnessing-hope-and-health-for-kenyan-orphans-and-vulnerable-children/ And for the second time, COGRI-Nyumbani features in the PEPFAR Report to Congress 2017.
In Nyumbani Village development moves ahead. Two water pans are now complete and we are pumping water from one to our livestock unit. Our farm manager and staff are moving ahead with implementation of the farm Business Plan and already we see progress. Our Church is now at wall level.
On 12th May, a very significant event took place – the presentation of their Charter to our Nyumbani Village Interact Club organized by Rotarian Protus Lumiti. Those present included Karen Rotary Club President, Rtn. Dr. Eva Nderu and Rtn Mburu Ngugi, Rtn. Faith Mutunga of Rotary Club of Machakos, President Rotaract Club of Catholic University, Rtn Jeffery, President Rotaract Club of Karen Community, Rtn. Shauna Mumbua and President Elect Rotaract Club of Limuru, Rtn. Melvin. They were accompanied by 2 bikers. Following refreshments, we proceeded to plant several melia volkensii trees (it was National Tree Planting Day), then went to the Hall for the Charter ceremony – a ceremony with a distinctive Rotary protocol which was very inspiring. They also donated books. All the grandparents and children were present for the ceremony which gave our interact club tremendous support.
We were so happy to welcome back Kees and Maria Santegoeds from the Netherlands for their bi-annual visit which started in the late 1990s. They were able to be photographed at the new laboratory gate which their family funded. Our outreach over the world was evident in other volunteers and visitors: Naroa Aierbe otaño and Pablo Galeano from Spain, Hannah Charlton and Lucy Judd from UK, Sarah Hyland from Ireland, Cristina Trauffler from Belgium, Francisco Javier from Chile and John Sheffy with daughter Indigo from USA.
We ask you to keep us all in thought and prayer as we continue to reach out in compassion to our children, adolescent/graduates in the aftermath of the loss of 3 graduates in the last three months.
God bless each one.
Sister Mary Owens
The Rotarians planting trees at Nyumbani Village assisted by Nyumbani Village Interact club