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Since 1990, Hong Kong Catholic Lay Missionary Association has trained and sent 16 lay missionaries to serve in Asia and Africa.

Kenya Exposure Trip 2019

Feb 3, 2019 [Kenya Exposure Day 1]

We attended Sunday Mass in the the Parish of Our Lady of Gaudalupe in Nairobi. We are happy to talk with the pastors, staff, parishioners and catecheum after Mass.

After Mass, we visited the Foundation of Hope, a NGO based in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, or maybe in the world too, with more than a million residents. Faith, Carlos and James, 3 young workers of this NGO shared their stories with us and told us the mission and work of this group. The founder and co-organizers of this NGO are young people who were grown up in Kibera. They received education and have been worked hard to change their lives. Now they want to bring change and hope to other children and youth in this area through their own gifts and talents, such as art and painting, dancing, theatre performance, etc. They organize class and activities for youth and children with their specialties, and also organize football team and garbage collection in order to empower people and also contribute to their community. They also do outreach work every week to inform the kids about social problems such as child or sexual abuse, drug addiction, aids and so on. 
During the visit, we saw beautiful paintings and dance performance. We also did handicrafts and dancing with the kids. We can see the potentialities, capabilities and inherent dignity of each one of them. They have ability to change their lives, the community and even the world. We all appreciate the workers and students of this NGO very much. 
Thanks Stephanie, a HK lay missionary who is serving in Nairobi, for organizing this program for us. In fact, some of the workers of this NGO are students of her when she taught in a high school in Kibera. Stephanie has been sowing the seeds of hope.

Feeling gratitude to hear stories of these young people in Kenya who bring change to their lives and Kibera through their talents and abilities.

Feb 4 [Kenya exposure Day 2]

Wish you Happy Chinese New Year! Today is the New Year day. We visited St. Aloysius Gonzanga Secondary School, the school in which our lay missionary Stephanie is now serving, on the second day of the exposure trip. Members of the exposure group demonstrated to the students how to make handicraft with red packets. They showed great interest in making these New Year decorations. They were clever and smart. 

Fr. Terry the Development Director, the Principal and a few staff members shared with us the origin and goals, the various program, the challenges and future plan of the school. The school was established in 2004 and mainly served the youth from Kibera slum area, hoping to provide education to youth so that they can have opportunities to develop their ability and lead a better life in future, as well as nurturing positive values and a sense of hope in life. The school provides scholarships to all students, providing education, activities and two meals to students. Through these years, they set up various program such as feeding, social needs, medical, and mentorship program based on the real needs of the students at different time, showing the flexibility and student-centered nature of the school. For those graduates who have ability to pursue further study in university, the school also provides scholarships to them after they fulfill 6 months community service.

Fr. Terry praised Stephanie for her commitment and contributions to the schools throughout the years when she has served (2004-2012, 2017 to present). Her presence brings a cross-cultural experience to the school and also gives a good example to other staff through her selfless commitment to her ministry and goodness of the students. She also brings visitors to the schools so that students can have chance to contact other visitors, knowing people from other place care about them, and other people also know about the school. Our group also appreciates a lot about Stephanie’s work and her humble attitude.

Feb 5 [Kenya exposure Day 3]

We visited a primary school run by the Sisters of Charity (MC sisters) and a preschool run by the FMM sisters located in the Kibera slum. Since Kibera is on a hill slope and the houses scattered around the slope with rubbish all over, the 30 minutes’ walk is like an adventure for us. But the young students and their parents have to walk up and down this uneven road almost every day. This special experience for us is indeed their daily lives.
When we arrived the schools, we sang action songs with the students and they also performed songs and dancing for us. They were so happy in seeing visitors and were eager to shaking hands with us. When we gave candies to them, they received them one by one with discipline and said thank you politely. We were touched by both their well-trained behavior and their loveliness.

In the afternoon, 15 of us visited the Cathedral of Nairobi with Stephanie’s students of the Confirmation Class. This was the first time for them to visit the Cathedral and so were we. We employed a mentorship style, each of us became a partner of one or two students and we shared with each other. It was also a good time to share our faith journey.

I was happy to share with Silvia, a form 2 student (form 4 in HK system) during the visit. There are many pictures of saints and authors of the Bible in the Cathedral and I tried to share with her the stories of some saints. She showed strong interest especially in the story of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Canossian sister, since she is an African saint, changing from a slave to a woman religious and then a saint. Then, I found a DVD movie of the story of Bakhita in the bookstore next door. I brought one for Stephanie so that she can show it to her students and introduce the life of this saint to them.
Silvia missed the chance of coming to HK to join the Taize international prayer gathering because of visa problem. Hope she has chance to visit HK in future.

Feb 6 [Kenya Exposure Day 4]

After visiting pre-school, primary school and secondary school, we visited 3 universities campus today. The first one is Marist International University College. A Marist brother brought us walked around the beautiful campus and introduced the history and program of the university to us. Then we visited the African Studies Program of Tangaza University and the Catholic University of East Africa.

We can see that the Church of Kenya values education very much. There are various private Catholic universities and they emphasize whole person formation, both theory and practice, academic and spiritual development, linking social justice and ethics with service learning. They also integrate African culture in their education and religious studies. All three campuses provide attractive and comfortable environment to study. The visit inspires us to reflect on our own Catholic education in HK.

Feb 7 & Feb 8 [Kenya Exposure Day 5 & 6]

The group went to Safari.  

I visited the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Kangemi, a Jesuit run parish in a slum area with various projects, such as secondary and vocational training school, medical centre and dispensary, child care centre and primary school, and so on. It tries to help those in need in the neighborhood.

Fr. Binamungu the parish priest in charge, Fr. Kaf Murhula and I met in Berkeley 15 years ago when we studied at the Jesuit School of Theology/ GTU. We are so happy to meet again in Kenya. I can see how busy Binamungu is in taking care of all these ministries. But he was so kind in receiving us and showing us what he is doing. I hope we have more time to get together and share.

Feb 9 [Kenya Exposure Day 7]

We visited Hekima University College, a Jesuit college on the last day of our trip. Fr. Toussaint Kafahire Murhula, a professor of the Peace Studies Program, brought us to visit the beautiful chapel and various places, and shared with us about the Peace Studies Program in which Stephanie our lay missionary is a graduate of its MA program. We were inspired by the architecture and program of the institute.

Feb 10, 2019

Our heartfelt thanks to Stephanie for arranging this exposure trip for us. It deepens our faith experience and reflection. We can see the presence of Jesus on the face of missionaries, the poor, and those who work hard to bring positive change to the realities, bringing the Kingdom of God to this world.

Mary Yuen (on HKCLMA facebook)

(Last modified: 27-11-2019)