Community gathering in St. Mary’s Parish, Miambani, Kitui, Kenya

October 9, 2014

Kitui, Kenya Partnership

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All morning long preparations were being made for the big community fundraiser in Miambani. Huge tents were assembled and positioned, then moved again to be in just the right spot. The children, all in their school uniforms of navy blue sweaters, white collared shirts and either blank pants for the boys or a plaid jumper for the girls, raised the plastic chairs above their heads and placed them in neat rows under the tents.

And they came … one-by-one, in small groups and by the pick-up truck loads, joyously singing … they came all morning long and even during Mass; they came from near and from the 23 outstations of St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Miambani, Kitui, Kenya.  Smiles, hugs and always handshakes as they gathered. Some 400-500 people came, some walking from a distance of 10-15 kilometers. The women wore their brightly colored Sunday best outfits and often wore scarf headdresses; the children wore either their school uniforms or girls wore beautiful dresses (fashion designers in the US could take a lesson from the African dress.) Many women wore scarves around their skirts symbolizing their support of the CWA, Christian Women’s Association.

We, too, were joyously greeted by just about everyone … handshakes and hugs, smiles and heartfelt welcomes. The children donned us with sashes, skirts and friendship hankies. They smiled for pictures; and while one picture was being taken, a dozen more children ran up to take part in the action. They were hungry for information on who we are … many had never seen a white person before and wanted to shake our hands. At one point there must have been 50 children surrounding us, and for almost an hour there were questions and answers … us learning about Kenya, them learning about America.

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The parish exceeded its fundraising goal, as well as re-establishing fellowship among the community. We were included in the community and felt honored to be a part of this wonderful Catholic parish.

Bob Peach