Missions

Daughters of Charity in Kenya
Short Profile of Kenya

The Republic of Kenya is a country in Eastern Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the northeast, Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, and Sudan to the northwest, with the Indian Ocean running along the southeast border.

Kenya is a most beautiful country covering an area slightly larger than France. Despite its beautiful landscape, tourist attractions and pleasant climate Kenya struggles with poverty. The differences between the life-styles of the very rich and the very poor are extreme, a huge majority of people live at subsistence level. The inadequate infrastructure and problems with Governance issues make development slow. However some excellent progress is being made in the highway systems and in primary education which is now largely free but huge challenges remain.  One of these is the increasing numbers of refugees from neighbouring countries and of the internally- displaced, all of whom claim the resources of the service providers. As in many other countries poverty has led to increased violence, armed robberies and gang activity. In addition severe droughts have had devastating effects in some areas and natural resources such as water have been seriously contaminated giving rise to consequent health problems. There is a great reliance on donor funding for basic services.

The Daughters of Charity were invited to Kenya by the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian Fathers) with whom they share a common heritage. The Daughters of Charity began officially in Kenya in January 2002, with the opening of two local communities, Thigio in Limuru and Chepnyal in West Pokot.  The development of the mission in Kenya has been generously supported by the international community of the Daughters of Charity. The provinces of Australia, Britain, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ireland, Nigeria, and the Provinces of the United States have contributed and continue to contribute personnel and/or financial support. At present there are 15 non-Kenyan Sisters on mission in Kenya. There are 17 Kenyan Daughters of Charity at different stages of formation and training.

Click on the regions below to read more about our individual projects.

Thigio is a small rural town situated thirty miles North West of Nairobi, near Limuru, in Kiambu District, on the edge of the Rift Valley. It is easily accessible from Nairobi.  The property, adjacent to the Parish Church run by the Congregation of the Mission, belongs to the archdiocese of Nairobi. The formation programme for the postulants takes place in Thigio, and work experience is provided for the young women wishing to join the community.

In 2002 the first group of Daughters of Charity arrived in Thigio and since then there have been many developments. These fall under three headings.

  1. The Social-Economic sector
  • The Women’s Promotion centre: Basic dressmaking and tailoring skills are offered and assistance given to start income generating projects.
  • Computer skills programme: This programme targets youth. Basic computer packages are taught Internet facilities are offered to the local community for a small fee.
  • Youth programme: A large sports facility and basketball court is available where youth are encouraged to join football and volley ball teams. At the weekend the youth club offers indoor games e.g. table tennis, pool and darts as well as televised football matches. This service is one of the largest offered in Thigio.  The sports facility is also used extensively by all the other groups meeting on the compound for various activities
  • Programme for the elderly:  A lunch club for the elderly is offered three times a week. In addition they receive medical treatment when necessary, chiropody on a regular basis and simple exercises supervised by the physiotherapist. Home visitation is an integral part of the programme.
  • Vocational training: Further training is offered to women who have graduated from the Women’s promotion centre. They take a one or two year course in dressmaking and/or tailoring and sit for the government trade test.
  1. The Education sector
  • Kisima: a unit for children and young adolescents with intellectual special needs
  • Nursery: an integrated nursery programme for vulnerable children within the community and including children with physical disabilities.
  • After school programme: a lunch and tuition programme that targets children from surrounding primary schools
  • Library: a learning centre that serves primary, secondary and university students with materials for study, for book exchanges, for reading magazines and newspapers; classes from nearby schools come weekly for a reading hour; on Saturday mornings an English programme reaches local primary school children.
  1. The Health sector:
  • Hospice: In 2010, a 9 bed hospice was opened for people dying from terminal diseases especially cancer & HIV/AIDS.
  • Clinic: an out-patient clinic providing health services for the local community including a holistic HIV/AIDs programme. Supporting HIV/AIDS patients is a weekly mobile clinic from Kijabe hospital with nutrition and home based care provided by the Daughters of Charity services. The hall provides space for the home based care, support group(s) and is available for use by the parish and other groups in the area.
  • Outreach services; home-visiting is given great importance to assess people prior to admission to the hospice, to support and identify children with disability and their families, for care of the elderly, the mentally ill and people living with HIV/AIDS
  • Physiotherapy: the physiotherapist serves about 25 handicapped babies and children (mainly cerebral palsy and delayed milestones) and an equal number of adults, (strokes, fractures, muscular pains); in addition daily treatments for hospice patients and three times weekly to the elderly groups.

Chepnyal is located in a remote and hilly area in West Pokot District in North West Kenya. It is a 10 hour drive from Nairobi and three hours from the nearest town, Kitale, two hours of which is over rough mountain roads and many rivers without bridges that can only be crossed when dry or the water level is low. The Parish has 24 substations, some only reachable by foot.

In 2002 the first sisters came to live in Chepnyal. The services offered here include:

A Community development project, which provides the following programmes:

  • Income generating projects
  • A Water programme, providing access to clean water by providing well maintenance and repair service and is also available to start new wells when a particular community is committed to the project and to cost share

An Education project, which offers the following programmes:

  • St Mary’s Nursery, an integrated programme with an outreach component to targeted and up-scale outlying
  • The Women’s Polytechnic. Students take a two year course for the National Trade Test Exam.
  • School Resource teacher services, primarily for the girl’s primary and secondary school and activities for children.

A Health/Education Project, which offers the following programmes:

  • A Programme connecting children with disabilities to medical facilities to address their needs for surgery or for follow up medical care.
  • An programme for the elderly providing socialization, hot food, clean clothing, and weekly medical advice by a nurse and assessment when needed.
  • Due to the difficulty accessing health care transport of the sick is provided to area clinics and to the District Hospital.

The Chanzo property is situated in the Karen/ Nairobi District. The house was built by the Daughters of Charity and was opened in 2004. It is the headquarters of the Daughters of Charity in Kenya.

Chanzo also provides accommodation and support for Daughters of Charity from other African countries; Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania, who attend courses at the university or other colleges.

The following services are offered:

A. St Justin’s and St John’s:

The Empowerment projects developed over a number of years in response to needs identified in the local area. Clients served by this project come from many different civic communities in and around Nairobi. The activities take place at two different locations, St. John’s, in the parish church compound and St. Justin’s within the Chanzo site.

Social services have been a part of the project from the beginning while the production unit has been in operation for almost a year.

  1. Social services:
  • Assessment and follow up community visits
  • Counselling and referral
  • Assistance with medical care for the very poor
  • Temporary food support for persons with TB, malnourished children, elderly, handicapped.
  • Referral service for DREAM clients when needed.

 

B. DREAM Centre Lang’ata (Drug Resource Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition)

In 2008 the Daughters of Charity opened a Comprehensive Care Clinic in Lang’ata district, Nairobi to offer holistic care and treatment services for people living with HIV/AIDS. The centre was realized through partnership with the Community of Sant’Egidio, an Italian based Catholic lay community.  The DREAM centre has a modern, fully equipped laboratory and networks with other clinics in and outside Nairobi for viral load processing and analysis.

The DREAM Program has a signed MOU with the Ministry of Health (Ministry of Medical Services) and works in collaboration with many partners: Ministry of Health, NASCOP, local hospitals, clinics and various stakeholders in Nairobi. It receives funding from USAID (PEPFAR through CDC/CRS, Irish Aid through Misean Cara, and a number of smaller agencies, The International St. Vincent de Paul Society and the DC International Projects Services fund aspects of the program).

The following activities are offered:

  • VCT and supportive counselling for clients.
  • Palliative care: Once enrolled on the program all clients are eligible for the basic palliative care package.
  • Provision of HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy).
  • Nutritional support is provided for eligible clients. Nutritional counselling is provided for all; however, the actual support is given on a prescription basis. Based on the body mass index (BMI) of <18.5, adults are eligible for nutritional support. All children under the age of 12 years of age, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, all HIV/TB co-infected clients and the elderly clients are eligible for nutritional support, monitored over a period of time and discharged from the program after significant improvement.
  • PMTCT: Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission is offered for all pregnant mothers to reduce the risk of vertical transmission of the virus. The mothers are given the triple therapy from 14 weeks of pregnancy until two weeks after cessation of breastfeeding.
  • Home based care; this is an integral part of the program. CHWs assisted by the activists visit and care for patients who are too ill to come to the Centre.  In addition, campaigns with door to door testing and provider initiated testing & counselling are carried out by trained counsellors.
  • Health education and health talks provided by activists (community health workers/volunteers).
  • Psychosocial support is provided for all the clients and they are encouraged to join one of the support groups. There are support groups for adults, adolescents, paediatric, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and for discordant couples.
  • TB Treatment
  • Cervical cancer screening
  • Ante & Post Natal care
  • Care of babies and vaccinations

St. Catherine’s Seminary:

This house opened in Kenya in 2015.  It is also based on the Nairobi Campus to provide initial formation for our young Kenyan Sisters.

The Matisi district in Kitale is a very poor, marginalized area. The Daughters of Charity have been located here in a house called Nyota ya asubuhi (Morning Star) for the last 6 years. The catchment area includes the Kwanza and Transnzoia districts of the Rift valley Province. The area is mainly swampy and unsuited for large scale productive farming though subsistence farming is common. There is a population of over 50,000 people of many tribes with the Luhyas comprising the majority. There are also several Ugandan and Sudanese groups within the location.  Proximity to Kitale town gives the opportunity to eke out a living in casual labour, trading and small businesses. Other activities undertaken can compromise cultural and moral values and include a prevalence of illicit brewing which leads to the high rate of alcoholism in the area and can be very risky and hazardous to their own health and that of customers.

The following services are offered;

  1. Community development:
  • Women’s empowerment workshops leading to the setting up of self- help groups.
  • Men’s empowerment courses (with the intention of men and women meeting together in the self help groups).
  • Alcoholic/Drug abuse programme with the target of establishing an Alcoholics Anonymous group in every village. (Matisi is made up of small sections called villages)
  • Sports programme for young people to distract them from drugs and alcohol. Football, volleyball and netball are organised with regular tournaments.
  • Youth workshops are given to educate in various life skills, relationships, self-reliance and behaviour change.
  1. Education project:
  • Collaboration with St Emmanuel’s public School, home- school liaison and support of students who are struggling
  • Mwanzo Mpya, on the sisters’ compound is a second chance education for teenagers who never went to school or who dropped out after a year or two and are now too old to attend regular primary school. It is supported by the Adult Education Department and leads to the primary school leaving examinations.
  • Education and support for children at risk by enabling them to attend school e.g. uniforms and school fees
  • An art and crafts programme which offers these services to the schools liaison programme.
  • Family support provided for people in dire circumstances due to poverty or health problems involve home visitation and help with medical expenses, bedding, housing or supplementary food as well as advocacy and liaison with other services.

Kiio is part of the Kitui Diocese in the Eastern Province of Kenya which comprises two distinct areas; Kitui to the South and Mwingi to the North. Poor soil, high temperatures, minimum rainfall and an extremely low water table characterise the area and contribute to a high level of drought each year with consequent food shortage and poverty.  The main difficulties for people in the area arise from their reliance on subsistence farming in such a climate and by the poor infrastructure such as fresh water sources and transportation. The results are widespread hunger, malnutrition, disease and a high mortality rate. In addition HIV/AIDS is having a devastating effect in the area leaving orphaned children. For young people there is a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness due to the lack of secondary school opportunities and the high unemployment rates.

The Daughters of Charity came to live in Kiio in 2009. The sisters work in collaboration with the Diocese in administrating and teaching in the Polytechnic and in the local primary school and in pastoral ministries through outreach work for the elderly and for children with handicaps.

The services offered in Kiio include:

  1. Education/empowerment
  • The Administration of Kiio Polytechnic which offers the following courses; Carpentry, dressmaking, Masonry and Mechanics to trade test levels III, II and I. Classes in Business, Bookkeeping, Typing, Computers, Cookery, Crafts, English, Health, Hygiene, and Agriculture.
  • Teaching in primary school
  1. Community Outreach;
  • To the elderly, including health and social groups.
  • Support for the carers of children with disabilities.
  1.  Pastoral ministries;
  • All sisters support the Priests with Sunday services in the 17 out stations over a two month cycle and with pastoral visits to the sick and the house bound.
  • Supporting teachers with the Sunday school/ PMC
  • Attend meetings and support the Catholic Women’s Association (CWA).
  • Youth services such as attending meetings and supporting the Youth Catholic Association (YCA) and the Abstinence Club.
  • Visits are also made to the homes of children in the local primary school especially those indicated for a variety of reasons as vulnerable.

 Support for the Mission:

The Mission in Kenya depends on support from various funding organisations and from a lot of very generous people, our families and friends included. This is reflected in the donations we receive and the people who support the parish collections and all the fundraising events organised by Sr. Geraldine and her helpers. We are deeply grateful for this and feel all those people are part of all we do here.