Two St. John’s University students, Raelynne Lee ’11C who is currently enrolled in the M.A. in Global Development program and Nicholas Macri ’11CBA currently studying business, traveled to Ethiopia and Kenya as Vincentian Lay Missionaries (VLM). program based in the United States, the VLM are men and women who commit to serving those in need in Kenya and Ethiopia with the Daughters of Charity for a period of four to six weeks.
A program based in the United States, the VLM are men and women who commit to serving those in need in Kenya and Ethiopia with the Daughters of Charity for a period of four to six weeks. During Summer 2012, four women served in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, and six women and one man to served in three different sites in Kenya. While in Ethiopia, the group taught English to local children throughout the month of July; in August, Lee and Macri traveled to Kenya to assist with organizing camps for local children.
During the first two weeks in Kenya, Lee and Macri hosted a camp for local children in two different villages. At the camps, they would work with children, helping them with arts and crafts in the morning and after lunch, they would take them outside and play different games throughout the afternoon. “One thing I realized is that all over the world, kids will be kids; they will laugh, sing, scream, fight, be aggressive and love and that’s exactly how it was with the children in Kenya,” said Lee. While in Chepnyal, Kenya, Lee and Macri participated in several service activities; they ate lunch, danced and had tea with a group of elderly Pokot; they organized a Fun Day for children with disabilities; and they worked with local women’s groups who had businesses or wanted to start a business. Working with the local women greatly impacted Lee.
Previous to her experience, she never realized how much women in developing countries struggle until she was presented with it firsthand. One goal of the VLM was to bring this group of women together and get them working collectively, as well as to better understand them and the issues they have encountered. “Working with these groups of women broadened my horizons, and showed me there is more out there, more opportunities. It demonstrated that it’s not necessary to get a job on Wall Street or work for a Fortune 500 company, but rather work toward the common good. Their stories and their motivation to achieve more were truly inspirational,” Macri said. Lee and Macri will continue their service by sharing their stories on campus and mentoring those who decide to participate as a Vincentian Lay Missionary in 2013.