Fr. Bartie O’ Doherty an Irish Kiltegan priest worked in Kiio parish for four years. This parish is located in the north east region of Kenya. Kiio is under Kitui Diocese which is a distance of an hour and a half from Kiio. This parish is the base for fourteen outstations and it is expanding daily.
Fr. Bartie approached Bishop Anthony Muheria asking for the Daughters of Charity to come to Kiio parish and assist with the many needsamong the Kikamba people. In November Sr. Alice, Sr. Nigisti and Sr. Anita moved to their new house in Kiio. Then in December Sr. Lucia our first Kenyan sister was missioned to Kiio. This was of great benefit to the sisters and the local people as she speaks Kikamba, the local language.
We are situated in a semi arid area which had little or no rainfall for many years now. People have been assisted with food fromvarious donation agencies over the years.Our works are many and varied and all very challenging. Sr. Alice who is Irish, as well as being administrator of the Polytechnic College, is harvesting water and coaxing life from the soil in the form of fruit trees and vegetables, rearing chickens, and teaching the students to do the same.
Sr. Nigisti, is Ethiopian, she teaches in the polytechnic and works with the women’s groups.
Sr. Lucia, is Kenyan, she teaches in the local primary school and is very involved with the youth of the parish.
Sr. Anita is Irish, and is part of the Diocesan team, treating in particular HIV/AIDS, TB and malnutrition. Distances covered to reach the outstations daily take two to three hours as they are in very remote areas and we cover two villages in one day. Some of the team remain in the first village and the rest cover the other village. In this way we economize the fuel cost and reach the people in their home villages.
Many of the people come to Mwingi where we have our base. Here we conduct seminars to train those who are HIV positive. The Paediatric group is very inspirational and they are a wonderful group. They meet during their school holidays and once a month if they are HIV positive. All our clients receive their anti-retroviral medications from the local government hospital and come to us to receive treatment for any opportunistic infection they may have. Many of the children who attend the clinic are orphans.
Health education is provided in all the local primary, secondary and polytechnics in the Mwingi district. Those who have completed seminars assist us in reaching the people and encouraging them to go for voluntary counselling and testing. Visual aids and videos are useful in assisting people to understand that early intervention is better than waiting until it is too late. People who are HIV positive share their experience of their illness with the community and as a result this is very beneficial for those who may be hesitating in relation to coming forward to be tested.
All the sisters are involved in the parish especially in the various outstations on Sundays. Fr. Andrew and Fr. Richard cannot reach every village so the sisters bring Holy Communion to the stations and give a reflection on the readings and Gospel at the Sunday services.
We also work with the young children who meet every Sunday for lessons as they have just joined the Catholic Church and need special attention to prepare for the various sacraments. It is wonderful to be part of their group and hear what they have to share in relation to the Gospel that particular Sunday. We use a book which is aimed at young children and help them to apply the gospel message to their daily lives. Children are so open and honest in their sharing and I am deeply touched and privileged to be with them.
We have now completed one year in Kiio and look forward to the many challenges we face in the future. Last year the rainy season was poor and the crops failed again. We pray 2011 will bring good rain and crops for all of us. It is a blessing to see crops flourishing once we have rain.
Driving is very difficult as we drive through sand to reach the villages as once you leave the main road you are in sand the whole way to the villages. That is a challenge as often we require a push to get us out and moving again.
The beauty of nature is lovely as we are surrounded by beautiful scenery. The star filled sky is awesome and you feel you could reach up and pick a star from the sky they are so close to us. The mystery and wonder of nature draws each of us closer to Jesus who is the Lord of all creation. I stand in wonder and praise in the silence of the beautiful cool evening after the heat of the day with temperatures soaring to 35 degrees centigrade. It is dry heat so a lot easier than other tropical countries compared to 100% humidity.
Anita Hubrich DC