Betty Jane Cameron, West Mabou, NS has just returned from her third consecutive trip to the St Charles Lwanga School (SCLS) in Nairobi, Kenya. This year she was there for three months and visited the SCLS as well as many other areas all over Kenya.
Betty Jane reports:
It is good to be back, but hard to leave the school, students and teaching staff. I also met many wonderful people in other parts of Kenya who welcomed me into their lives, their homes and their work. Those I lived with are so caring for each other’s needs and supportive of all efforts to help their communities grow, their parishes flourish and support their children’s education opportunities. The students in turn strive their best and plan to help their families and communities to grow beyond poverty and live with peace, dignity and security.
There are often enormous obstacles to overcome. We try to help drug addicted students at St Charles Lwanga, but we have no medications and limited counselling. They tell us that most have been addicted since age 8 or 9 years old. I spent a little time in the large Mukuru slum visiting drug addicted primary students, mostly ages mostly ages 6-10. These children are in a program at school where they are housed and taught separately for one year with their own teachers, counsellors and social workers, with their families getting support and help. Talking with these children gave me new insight into the reality our students face in their struggle. With the dream of a new school getting closer we at St Charles Lwanga will be able to provide similar programs and perhaps use the current school as a rehab centre. It is so important that the new school will be in a small rural community away from the city, closer to the homes of many of our students in HomaBay County. It will be in the beautiful highlands of Western Kenya near Lake Victoria, with fertile land for agriculture, recreation/sports field and in every way a much healthier environment.
There are so many stories and memories that crowd my mind. Everywhere we visited there was laughter, tears, hugs and promises to return to try help and always remember. It is the friendships formed that keeps me returning to this special place – and I feel blessed, privileged and grateful to be a part of their lives.
I am lucky to have a young girl Tracey planning on coming to live with me and study engineering at STFX. She volunteered at our school after graduation in December. It is a good opportunity for all of us to meet and welcome her to our homes and share our culture as she and her family have welcomed me.