…but a center of LEARNING FOR LIVING
St. Justin de Jacobis in Kenya is a Learning Resource Center. They say it is not a school but lives by the motto “Learning for Living
Sister Jocelyne Joly, D.C. writes in the Nairobi Kenya Journal June 2012
First let me share with you our new project name. The project is titled the Education, Empowerment and Training Project. This project includes both the sewing and human development classes at St. John’s and the Adult Education, Production Unit and Social work services at St. Justin de Jacobis Center.
Sister Peig O’Brien coordinates the activities at St. John’s and Sister Deborah coordinates the programs at St. Justin de Jacobis Center. The classes at St. John’s are two years in length. The young women sit for two levels of the National Trade Test. All of the students from St. John’s who sit the test pass. This is a major accomplishment and a great boost to the self esteem of the women, but we also hope it boosts their earning potential.
In the last year we have seen many blessings come our way. First we have two new sisters who have joined our staff and they are making a wonderful contribution. At St. John’s Sister Philomena is both student and teacher with a bit of Social work on the side. Sister Philomena is a Kenyan Sister, she is studying sewing, teaching portions of a human development course and visiting the homes of each of her students.
At St. Justin de Jacobis Center we are pleased to have Sister Jocelyne Joly working with us. Sister Jocelyne is full of enthusiasm and creativity. Sister Jocelyne coordinates the activities of the Production Unit. The goals of the production unit are to provide additional training, experience and employment for at least some of our graduates and to eventually generate 50% of the funds needed for the cost of the program. A big job but Sister Jocelyne is well able.
(Click graphic to enlarge)
The Production Unit just completed their first contract. One of the instructors from Tangaza College gave us a contract for seat cushions. The cushions were created in record time and they are very well made. Other items produced by production include quilted bedspreads, kitchen mitts and table mats and fashionable scarves. On the knitting side creativity is also encouraged. Our knitting unit is producing fashionable sweaters and knitted scarves and baby clothing. We may even have a contract with one of the area schools for sweaters before long.
During the year the Seminary joined us for their Apostolic day. Sisters Judith and Brigit were with us early in the year and Sister Angelica has picked up the touch. It is really a joy to have them with us on Thursdays
In the Adult Education Part of our program we are also experiencing growth and unforeseen outcomes. We currently have 28 students studying for the Kenya Secondary School Exam (KCSE). Five of these students will sit for the exam in November. The baking class trained two women from a neighboring parish who were members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in the parish. With the cooperation of the parish priest these women have joined with others to open their own bakery. The proceeds from sales will go to support the work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in that Parish. We wish them every success!
Our Friday Seminars were very interesting. Instructor George Kariuki walked us through a practical course in managing small business. George is a dynamic and very interesting teacher. He brings a wealth of experience from the business world.
Our other social work activities continue as well. Of late we have been very busy. We are seeing an average of 68 person during our Tuesday office hours. We assist people with a variety of needs including counseling and referral, food support, medical referral and the placement of orphaned and vulnerable children. Food support is provided mainly for malnourished children, elderly persons, persons taking medication for TB and those who have a temporary emergency need. Of late the orphaned and vulnerable children have demanded a lot of our attention. One child, we will call him Charles, was living in a children’s home and came to the DREAM Center for assistance. When this child and others became more and more ill the DREAM Staff and St. Justin investigated and found that the conditions in the home were lacking. The children were not receiving proper food. The conditions were over crowded and the supervision left much to be desired. Eventually, Charles became so ill we were forced to remove him from the home and find other accommodation. Another of the young DREAM Clients, Martin, was living with family but he was also not receiving the care and support that he needed to improve his health, so he was also relocated. Unfortunately, the only home we could find to accept the two boys is struggling financially, and while the brothers who run the home seem to be doing all they can to care for the children. Providing enough food for the children is a constant concern.
On the medical side we provide medical vouchers for many people who would not be able to access medical care other wise but some individuals require a bit more assistance. One such individual is Fenni. Fenni’s mom has given us permission to share her story. Fenni is blessed in that she has both a mom and a dad in the home and her parents and her brother are concerned for her well being. But Fenni has a serious heart condition and Fenni’s parents are day laborers. They earn their living by working day jobs when they can find work. Fenni’s mom fixes hair for her neighbors. She is not formally trained but she seems to have a talent for hairdressing. Fenni was very malnourished and anemic. When we started to look into the cause for this, the doctors uncovered the heart condition, very obstructive tonsils and some other underlying health concerns. The Doctors said the tonsils had to come out in order to open the airway and reduce the strain on the heart. We were able to reduce the anemia with nutrition support and transfusions. Heart to Heart very generously agreed to help us with the cost of the surgery. With the help o other donors we were able to pay for the lab work before admission, treatment for intestinal parasites’ and a transfusion. This is not normally something Heart to Heart would help with, but in this case the tonsils were causing stress to the heart. Fenni’s doctors agreed to help without fees. Fenni was able to have the surgery and she is home and she is now able to breathe and eat better. We will continue to assist Fenni and her family as Fenni’s medications are very expensive. We also want to explore options for skills training for Fenni’s Mom and Dad so that they can increase the family income. Making the contacts, getting to appointments and coordinating activities takes time, but in the end it is worth it when you see a little one’s health improving. We continue work on signing Fenni and her family up for national Health Insurance so that she can attend the hematology clinic, but she looks much better already.
In the area of things to come we are looking forward to displaying and selling our production items at the annual Christmas Fairs here in Kenya. Our Calendars are already winging their way to London, Ireland, Canada and the US. The Peace School, a Saturday tutoring program for 54 children, will have their first ever computer camp this summer. St. Johns and St. Justin will hold a reunion for all past graduates.
So as you can see we are keeping busy about the Father’s work. Thank you for all of your care and support. Please continue to pray for our Kenya Sisters and Brothers living in poverty and for the Daughters of Charity and their associates who serve in Kenya. Know that you are remembered in our prayers as well.
With gratitude and affection,
Sister Deborah Mallott, DC
Sister Jocelyne Joly, DC
Associates St. Justin