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Mercy Mission

Ministry with the poor in a rural village in Kenya

My name is Sr. Goretti Ward. My people here in Nuu christened me ‘Mutanu’.

Africa was in my heart a long time ago and when I retired from nursing in Carlow, I was privileged to come on mission to Nuu Kenya. This has been a wonderful gift God has blessed me with.

Where I live:-
I live in a semi –arid area with a lot of bush land about three hundred kilometers north east of Nairobi close to the Equator. There are two seasons – wet or dry and the temperature vary between 36-40 degrees Celsius.
Four sisters live together at the mission - three Kenyan sisters and one Irish sister.
We have no electricity but we have solar energy for three hours or less, then paraffin lamp or candles are used. For cooking we use charcoal and if visitors come we use gas (but we seldom have visitors). To get gas or petrol we travel sixty six kilometers on murram dust road. Our fridge is on gas also.

When the rains come we are marooned in Nuu as the rivers flood and it is dangerous to cross.

Our Work.
Our work is totally with the poor - feeding programs, sick AIDS/HIV orphans, education. When people are educated they can travel the world.
Our day begins at 5.15am.We pray together as a community, attend Mass at 6.30 am and then the sisters go to school. At about 8.00 am I visit the medical clinic. In the area we have a Vocational Training Centre with many girls boarding and a medical clinic. There is also a Special School for educationally disadvantaged children and a Pre-school, Primary School and Secondary School.

My Ministry
We have a little Suzuki van which I use to visit the poor and the sick in the area. I pack it up with food, medicine, water and sometimes clothes. I also bring the Blessed Sacrament.
An interpreter comes with me and off we go to the Bush (Interior)
When the local people see the white Suzuki they gather around as they know food would be available and that the sister is visiting.
They gather under the shade of acacia tree and sing, rest and talk. They can queue for hours for food and may have walked over twenty kilometers for even a little sustenance.
Hungry, humble and content they wait patiently for some one to help.
Physically vulnerable they still remain mentally strong.

Interacting with the local people I am aware that the Kenyan People are very sensitive to their situation. They like to give a token of thanks out of their nothingness e.g. chicken or a few eggs.

If there is someone sick further in we walk as it’s just a goat path and too thorny for the car. So someone walks with me to the hut. At present in this area of Nuu we have three hundred orphans and we register them. This entitles them to a piteously small ration of food from the Government. At times the children are left with their grandparents to be cared for and they are poor. The money which the Irish donors give is used for food (as many are undernourished) day to day living, medicine, uniforms, education. The poor will always have a need as they might have no food, and be sick with family problems. They come sometimes to church.

We are also involved in women’s education. On National Women’s Day we had a group meeting to empower women and gave talks on HIV/AIDS and the dignity of women. While women from all around the world were gathering together, there was a little group out in the middle of the Kenyan bush thinking about the ways in which they could be empowerment in their lives. With a little more exploring the African women established small changes so that they could make life a little easier.

The present situation
Since 2006 we have had no rains so our people are once again faced with severe famine. At the present time parents and children may not have eaten for two days. In the schools, children get maize and beans at lunch time but at present they have no food when they get home. Without food, it is hard for them to be expected to study. Sometimes when food is being delivered it is off-loaded on the way (so corruption abounds)

During the year food would come to the market on Saturday but would be double the normal price. On Saturdays we have a group of poor people who come to our house for maize and beans. They may have traveled long distances on foot through the goat path and also if they are sick they are treated. Otherwise, the outcome would be diseases, malnutrition, deaths.

2007 and 2008
In 2007 and 2008, Bernard Jennings (optician), Mirriam Kilgarrif, Brendan Harding (writer) and Carlow business woman Betty O’Gorman traveled to the remote Kenyan village of Nuu. The specific aim of this journey was to conduct eye tests on people with scant access to medical facilities. To date the team has tested in five villages. In some cases up to eighty people have been tested. It total, eighty five regained sight, many received glasses while others are waiting for sight testing operations in Kikuyu Eye Hospital.

All of this is taking place due to a chance meeting with Bernard while he was testing my own eyes while home on holidays. All this is taking place because of the generosity of the Irish people. I want to say a sincere ‘Thank you’ to many people who have supported our mission since I came to Nuu seven years ago. I pray it will continue. You will be blessed, Mutanu

Sr. Goretti Ward

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