November was a very important month in Kenya’s history. Pope Francis, the current Pope of the Catholic Church, embarked on his first trip to Africa on November 25th and Kenya was the first country he visited! His visit was an extremely exciting time not only for Kenya but also for Nyumbani.
Sister Mary, Nyumbani’s executive director, shared three memories from Pope Francis’ visit that really stood out: his celebration of the Eucharist with a congregation of over one million, his addresses to different audiences which significantly touched into their life situations, and his unique symbol inviting transcendence of ethnic divisiveness by requesting the youth to join hands during his meeting with them.
Nyumbani’s Lea Toto program was invited to participate in a special event on November 27th, when Pope Francis visited the Nairobi slum of Kangemi. Lea Toto- Kangemi office was represented by 10 adolescents, Program Manager Nicholas Makau and Sister Mary at the Pope’s service at St. Joseph the Worker Parish. They were a great representation of Nyumbani, proudly wearing program shirts and displaying a Lea Toto welcome sign. With only 1,500 people present at the mass, it was an honor for Lea Toto to be included and for the adolescents to have the special experience of personally meeting with Pope Francis. Lea Toto’s adolescents are a symbol of the program’s success in having Lea Toto children grow up holistically: educated, self confident adults.
Nyumbani Village was also filled with excitement for Pope Francis’ maiden voyage to Africa. A bus full of Village children was scheduled to go to Nairobi for the Pope’s youth mass, however heavy rains the day before made the road impassable for the bus. Although the children were very disappointed, they quickly came up with a plan B (thank goodness for technology). The children were able to watch the Pope’s mass live on TV at Lawson High School! It was a very inspiring and educational event for the children.
Overall, the visit of Pope Francis to Kenya was an amazing experience for Kenyans and Nyumbani’s programs. Nyumbani is blessed to have been able to have representatives involved and present during the festivities. The Pope’s message of love and union was the most important take away from his visit and we hope it will continue to aspire Kenya and Nyumbani.