October 28, 2016
In 2002 St. Monica Catholic Community forged a relationship with Holy Cross Dandora Parish, a dynamic yet under-resourced community on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Now, fourteen years later, the Holy Cross Africa Ministry (HCAM) at St. Monica’s is a shining example of dignity based outreach to the marginalized.
Their initiatives include:
This past summer, two major projects that St. Monica supports in Africa were dedicated and opened: Our Lady of Visitation Maternal Child Health Center, and a brand new church, St. Andre Beset. Five years ago, the parishioners of Holy Cross Dandora expressed their dire need for clean, safe, and compassionate maternity services. Maternal and infant mortality rates are unacceptably high here. St. Monica responded, and in partnership with new DAWNafrica, helped make that dream come true!
St. Monica pastor Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson led a group of 28 people to Dandora for the events. Thousands of people celebrated with prayer, singing, dancing, and eating!
The first patient arrived just as the doors officially opened: a promising sign that Our Lady of Visitation will serve the community well.
Holy Cross Parish has a main church and school campus and an additional facility or “outpost” to serve the extended community. This old converted garage served as a place to hold mass. People spilled out into the street, straining to hear the liturgy from afar.
The newly opened church, St. Andre Beset, holds 1,800 people and is a shining jewel adjacent to Nairobi’s city dumpsite, viewed from the church windows.
Dandora is a place haunted by the intrusive presence of the city dump with its throat choking smells of decay and burning waste. The site was condemned to close over thirty years ago, yet continues full operations thanks to government polarity and corruption. An industry of trash scavenging offers livelihood to thousands of people in the vicinity.
Holy Cross Parish is an oasis of beauty and hope in the midst of poverty. What the people lack in material goods, they make up for in spiritual wealth. Going to church here is like going to a concert. The music, singing, dancing, and gratitude to God permeate the mass and divine energy is palpable. As the center of social life, this facility stands as a beacon of community, comfort and hope and an antidote to the many challenges of living in Dandora.
By Jill Origer Tabit