That every country determine to take the necessary measures to make the future of the very young, especially those who suffer, a priority. Lord hear us
Greetings to all!
I do not want to end this series on my visit to Kenya without telling you about my brief visit to West Pokot.
It was going to be a much longer trip but, due to unforeseen events that never fail to materialize, we had to cut it short and return to Nairobi. In any case, the trip was intense and interesting.
I traveled with Fr. Maciek and Bro. Cesar from the community of Amakuriat.
It was a 15-hour trip in a Land Cruiser that turned out to be a little crowded for the three of us, but that we shared joyfully.
As usual, the vehicle was loaded up to the top, as it is normal in the missions to take advantage of each trip to buy what cannot be found in the bush, both for your community and also for the other communities in the area that also need help. So, it is normal that a missionary’s car will fill up any time it goes from one place to another.
And why not, we even had time to stop for some visits along the way and deliver some messages as we did with the bishop. We did not see him because he was elsewhere, but at least we signed the guest book of the diocese.
We left at 6:00 in the morning and arrived at the mission compound at 9:00 in the evening. The truth is that for the most part the road was not too bad, but traffic slowed us down. The last few hours were on a dirt road that made us understand how, as we left problems behind us, there were many more ahead. There was an especially complicated stretch of about a half hour where it would have been nice to have a 4×4, because the rain had left the road in a sad state with pits and stones. Fortunately, it had not rained too much and the road was not blocked by some of the rivers like when it rains a lot and there is no way to enter or leave the area for hours or days.
The next day, after eating with the community, which welcomed me and made me feel at home, we visited the “business area’ of the town and, in the afternoon, some Pokot communities.
This is the community where Fr. Tomás Herreros had worked for many years. He was provincial in Spain when we were getting ready to leave for the missions, and I had listened to his witness of life among the Pokot which now I could see in person in this mission. He is most certainly well remembered and cherished and has left a great legacy among his people.
The village of Amakuriat is not unlike any other African village, with its little stores, a small hostel and some local restaurants where to eat.
To walk through the streets is a slow process because every five minutes you bump into someone who wants to greet Fr. Maciek, ask questions, exchange the time of day or agree to get together later to talk.
This parish is a possible place where we could be if some day we will have sufficient personnel to open another missionary community in Africa. And that is why it was important to see it.
In the afternoon we visited a couple of traditional Pokot villages. It is always a wonder to see how they keep their customs, their buildings and way of life. Even though there are schools in the area, a lot remains to be done. Education is the door to the future and to the development of people here that are still living as they did centuries ago. Cattle is still the main source of wealth, polygamy is still prevalent and the work of women to sustain the family is still central.
To get to the villages can be difficult, through tracks that have to be picked among the acacias and that makes us stop now and then to engage the four-wheel drive to move ahead.
We were able to visit a few villages and, as always, we were amazed by the welcoming and kindness. Whatever little they have, they share it and so they did with a coup of milk from their own cows, slightly fermented already because they have no refrigeration of any kind and keep it in a bowl. They cook on a wood fire, sleep on cow hides or on rudimentary beds, without light or drinking water, all within a corral enclosed by thorny barriers to protect themselves from hyenas. This is how they still live. Fortunately, they tell me that the area is now at peace and they no longer suffer cattle raids from the Turkana, their northern neighbors, that also used to cause death because of mutual conflicts.
The following days we visited another sector of the parish. It is a parish with three sectors that could mean eight hours between the far end of one to the other, on dirt roads and where the missionary sleeps at times in a little room next to the chapel or on the ground in a sleeping bag.
Chelopo gave us the chance to rest a while on the return trip to Nairobi. We stopped briefly with the youth group and we were overwhelmed by their initiatives. They would like to have a volleyball court: they already have the net and all they need to do is to clear the area and bring cement for the posts, then they will organize a tournament with young people from the nearby communities. They would like to take some old computers from the school’s warehouse, put them in the hall and try to learn how to use them, get together with other groups and see if they can help the community. It’s summer vacation time here and they have a lot of free time.
These are young people with a spirit of initiative and the will to do things.
We then continued our journey. Bro. Cesar took us to a town to catch a night bus for Nairobi with which to end our lighting speed trip to the North.
By 5:00 in the morning we were already in Nairobi and from the station we went to the provincial house to see a number of missionaries who were gathered there or passing through, to speak with the provincial over our experiences and to rest a while.
It was a quick visit, but a very interesting one. Who knows whether in the future there will be a CLM community in this area. For sure, it is a very beautiful mission and with many needs.
Only God knows.
Alberto de la Portilla, CLM
Greetings to all!
Moving on with the reporting on my trip to Kenya I would like to share with you about my visit to the new group of CLM candidates which is coming up there.
The group has been getting together for over a year in Nairobi. They meet on the first weekend of the month. Many of them come from the Friends of Comboni group, but in some way some of them would like to take another step forward and follow the CLM vocation.
First of all, I must give thanks for the reception I have received through this time, starting with my reception at the airport on my first day. Four members found a way to be there to welcome me. From there, we went to the home of one of them where she had lunch ready for us. A great welcome to establish a family spirit. Fr. Maciek joined us for lunch. He follows the group with the help of Fr. Claudio, whom I met later in Embakasi.
We spent the afternoon together even though I must admit that I was very tired because of the trip. After that, they drove me to the house of the Comboni Sisters of South Sudan, which is at the opposite end of the city. At that point I could see the chaos that grips circulation in a capital as large as Nairobi and that would be with me wherever I went in Kenya.
On the first Friday of the month they took me to Embakasi, outside the city and near the airport, which is the Comboni community that is the point of reference for the group and where they meet monthly.
We had supper together and shared how the week had been for each one. Thus, early Saturday morning we were able to start our meeting.
The purpose of the meeting was to get to know each other better, starting with a presentation of the CLM at the international level, our history and the agreements reached at our last international meetings. All this in order to share on how the group is developing, what are its immediate tasks and spend some time on lectures, resolving doubts that are normal for a new group and looking at the challenges that will arise in the future.
They are in the second year of formation and they will soon reach an important moment. It will be time to decide and make a missionary option both at the personal and at a group level. This formation they are receiving must help them discern their personal missionary vocation, but also discern as a group the missionary options they will accept. This is what we talked about mostly. The Lord has called each one of them to be missionaries. So, this formation must help them decide the direction of the rest of their lives. If they decide to enter the CLM, they will have to see if the Lord calls them to leave Kenya and go to some of our missionary communities. But they must also discern if they are called to open a missionary presence far away from Kenya or in a neighborhood of Nairobi. For instance, for them Amakuriat and the Turkana area are important points of reference some have already visited. Next month two of the women will initiate a small mission experience there helping the health center, youth work and in general pastoral activity.
Each time the Lord gives rise to new vocations he does it to answer the many needs of the world. What is the Lord asking of them? This is what they must discern. They must keep in mind the needs and special cases that we must face in our condition as CLM being lay, single or married.
I also want to comment on the project of the sale of honey they carry out to find funds. It is something they already introduced to us in their blog and in which they are very involved. They buy honey from the Pokot warriors and thus help that community. Then they transpose it and sell it to earn something to live with, to buy what they need for the group and also to help finance the common fund at the international level. It is hard work requiring a lot of time, staying up on Saturday night or getting up very early on Sunday to fill the jars of one kg or half a kg, wash the empties that will be used to buy more honey. Then they must label them, follow the sales and keep the administration. This then brings them to do promotion in the parishes and also to sell during the week to relatives, coworkers and friends to earn something. This is a group that, from the very beginning, not only shares monthly about its activities, but also wants to contribute to our common cause.
During my last days in Kenya I also had the opportunity to chat with some of them, to know their families and their personal concerns.
It is wonderful to see how the Lord keeps on calling. A new group in Africa is, without a doubt, a great challenge for us as CLM. We ask St. Daniel Comboni to accompany it, to animate it and to fill it with his passion for Mission. “To Save Africa with Africa” is a slogan that keeps calling many Africans to serve their neediest brothers and sisters wherever they are.
May the Lord give them strength and courage in the journey ahead.
Alberto de la Portilla, CLM
Greetings to one and all! As several of you know, these last few weeks I was on a visit to Kenya. I experienced a lot of things during those days and I would like to share some of them with you. My first item will be to tell you about my first days in Nairobi, when I had the opportunity to attend the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Tangaza University College.
First of all, I must thank the community of the Comboni Sisters that hosted me during these first days while I was attending the Silver Jubilee of the Tangaza University College. I include Sr. Teresita, with whom I shared all these days, who showed me around and explained the place’s history. We shared good days when we could converse and get to know a little better the reality of Kenya and, through the other sisters, of South Sudan as well.
Tangaza University College was born 25 years ago. It was a pioneering idea in many ways and, above all, an inspiration that the Comboni family and other congregations and people are still supporting.
In particular, these days they celebrated the 3rdAnnual African Conference on Entrepreneurship during which lectures and round tables were held over the purpose and the importance of social entrepreneurs in Africa and specifically in Kenya.
Kenya faces many economic difficulties and a high level of unemployment, especially among the young. This reality which statistics throw at us stands in contrast with all that was discussed during these days. The gathering was a venue where to share experiences and challenges among a solid group of entrepreneurs. These are people filled with initiative and with many ideas that want to change the country.
Social entrepreneurship goes well beyond the interest to have a business survive and make a profit. Generating wealth in the country and its repercussion in society are two supporting pillars for these entrepreneurs.
We all know the importance of investing in education and health care in a country, but this is only a first step. The second step is the challenge for civil society to generate a just wealth for all. It means to generate a development that will improve food availability, provide better transport, a better agriculture that will satisfy people’s needs, infrastructures and, finally, to raise the level of life of the people, the level of health care for all and a care of the environment, because it is the only way to guarantee a better future for all.
These days dealt with all these things. The plenary sessions and the round tables that were held were all equally interesting. This included, in a parallel way, the exhibits of small enterprises that are opening up in this field and the contacts made possible between people sharing an interest in opening new businesses that will offer solutions to concrete problems.
It was often stressed that the problems of Africa can only be solved by Africans. This is very much in tune with St. Daniel Comboni who, almost two centuries ago, was saying, “Save Africa with the Africans.”
All this made me reflect a lot on our style of mission, our missionary priorities as a Comboni family, and especially as lay people. For sure, as lay people we are much closer to this reality. And even though it is true that not everyone is called to be an entrepreneur, it is certain that our missionary activity must grow along these lines of helping local people, especially the young, to build sustainable wealth and development. It is important to be involved not only in education, health care and social matters, but also the economic development of society and local communities must be a priority in our missionary planning, in our formation, in our vocation promotion.
Clearly there continues to be much work ahead and all our gifts remain few as we place them at the service of those most in need.
Alberto de la Portilla, CLM
My name is Enoch MALUMALU and I am a Congolese national.
I am Catholic and a Comboni Lay Missionary. I am 25 years old and I am the coordinator of a community of lay people in the St. Maria Goretti parish, of the archdiocese of Kinshasa. I also serve as the educator of young people in various parish groups of the archdiocese of Kinshasa.
Professionally, I am a graduate in Social Communication from the Institute of Information Sciences and Communications (IFASIC/Kinshasa/Gombe). I worked for a year as a political reporter, and two years for national NGOs in the humanitarian and development sector.
I am the only son of my father, Augustin MALUMALU, and the second of four children of my mother, Adelphine NKIE, from whom I have two brothers and one sister. My older brother’s name is Bruce, and after me comes Beni, my younger brother, and my little sister Sephora. My older brother has two children.
My vocation as a Comboni lay missionary started much before I even thought about it.
At an early age, while in primary school and after my First Communion, I chose to go to the mission, captivated as I was by the stories of Bakanja, Anuarea and the martyrs of Uganda that I had learned in the Kizito and Anuarite group. I discovered my missionary vocation while in secondary school and it pushed me to read many books about the saints. One day I fell in love with St. Daniel Comboni and this was the beginning of my adventure with the Comboni Missionaries down to this day.
After several years of discernment, prayer, meetings, discussions, guidance and formation, I heard the voice of God calling me as it did with Samuel and with St. Daniel Comboni. Aware of the current needs of the mission, my strength is based on the cross because “the works of God are born and grow at the foot of the cross,” as St. Daniel Comboni said.
Currently I am in Kinshasa living my community experience, then I will be missioned to the Central African Republic for two years. I will work with the Pygmies of Mongoumba. The town is about 120 km South of Bangui, the CAR capital. There I will live with “the poorest and most abandoned,” as our founder St. Daniel Comboni said.
Enoch Malumalu, CLM Congo