St Mark’s Mission Link with Urban Development Programme (UDP) Nairobi, Kenya Latest News and Timeline
2019/2020 St Marks Kenya group has been established for anyone interested in supporting this mission link. We have been learning about Kenyan history, church and culture. Nine members of the group are now planning to visit our partners in Nairobi in July 2020, supported by CMSI, the remaining members of the group and the parish as a whole, who will be praying for us from here in Belfast. Please support our upcoming fundraising events
Bag packing Burns night ceilidh Coffee Tasting night Sustainable Fashion and Wedding Belles Fashion Show Marathon/sponsored walk Parish Table Quiz
And don’t forget to contribute to Dorothy’s Tin.
1991 After their homes were demolished, 250 Nairobi families were relocated by the Kenyan government to Kayole, an area with no housing, facilities or amenities. Church Mission Society Ireland (CMSI) and All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi began to support the community, as they gradually built homes, provided latrines and washing facilities, and established the Tujisaidie community school. Tujisaidie means ‘We help ourselves’. Mid 1990s St Marks Bible Fellowship Group began to collect funds to provide meals to the school children. St Marks hosted a visit by Isabelle Prondzynski (CMS mission partner), Louise Githire (All Saints Cathedral/UDP) and Lucy Irungu (founder member of the Tujisaidie community). Dorothy Adair began collecting donations through her little tin, and regular donations were made from St Marks to support community projects and the school meals programme. Proceeds from tea and coffee after our family services are donated to UDP.
2014 St Mark’s welcomed Louise Githire back to the parish along with Rev John Mark, to provide an update on the Tujisaidie community.
2015 Team of 5 from St Mark’s headed by Rev Dorrian visited All Saints Cathedral and met with Provost Sammy Wainaina and cathedral staff. The team worked at the Tujisaidie school, painting classrooms and meeting staff, pupils and community members. Donations to the school continued through ‘Dorothy’s tin’, funding school meals, and fundraising events raised money for school uniforms, books and furniture. 2017 St Mark’s welcomed Provost Sammy Wainaina and Louise Githire to experience a week in our parish, to strengthen the link between St Mark’s and All Saints Cathedral. They met with parishioners and engaged with many parish activities, and visited local schools. 2019 St Mark’s welcomed Antony Njoroge Irungu (Son of Lucy Irungu) for a week in the parish as part of a Bishops Appeal Harman Scholarship placement in Ireland. Antony has grown up in the Tujisaidie community, and now works as a youth worker and community leader, mentoring young people, running the Tumaini African Foundation which addresses the spiritual, physical, social, environmental and intellectual needs of young people living in Kayole and Mukuru slums. Antony connects with young people through football, sport and their ‘More than just a meal’ Saturday feeding and mentoring programme. During his time meeting parishioners he taught us how to make ugali and chapatis, and shared his experience of engaging with young people in challenging circumstances. After his visit, Antony wrote: I am grateful for the warm welcome that I received from the wonderful congregation and let the Rector and everyone receive my warm appreciation. Thanks for opening the door so that I can serve with my skills freely. St Mark’s is a small congregation but full of strength and warmth. This was so real and tangible. I saw them committed in everything they gave themselves to, and in everything I would feel great joy. I did like the whole idea of the Rector having a cup of tea with the elder women, perhaps this needs to be taken further to the young people. I was also very pleased to see the church open to offer to the community space and resources through the cooking practice and teaching that is offered to those who have some life challenges. (Root Soup classes on Friday). My prayer is that the church may volunteer itself to offer the spiritual care and support to the members of the group, or have a few members of the church joining the group once a month, so that the presence of the church is felt more and more. I am grateful for all the questions that made me reflect as a person, a husband and a community worker, and for the drive around the city, a place seeking redemption and a city that is being rebuilt. I can’t wait to host you and the team in Kenya. Pass my regards to the Rector, the Curate and to all faith children of God.
Norah Meharry reflects on Antony’s visit : Antony called with us at Mums and Chums and we had a chat about the importance of having food for the children and how eating together encourages friendships. He loves all of our breads and fortunately we had some pancakes and fruit loaf to have with our coffee. I explained that Mums and Chums is part of our outreach to the local community and that carers are generally not members of the parish, but that it’s a place to come together in a relaxed atmosphere with all ages welcome. We do our best to let those who come know about parish activities. Antony agreed that grandparents are very important in helping to bring up children! He said he missed his wife and family as he’d been in Ireland a while. At rhyme and song time Antony joined in and we encouraged those with older children to come to the football and hotdogs event with him that evening. While talking about his work in Nairobi, I remember Antony saying that it’s important especially for the girls to play football too!
St Mark’s Parishioner reflects on Antony’s visit : Antony very obviously has a heart for reaching out to others in his community, in particular young people and clearly has a passion for this. He talked about members of one of his football teams and the kinds of social issues that affect them (eg a young father at 17 with no job). I liked the way he used football to draw parallels and talk to the children at the Football Fun event in a very simple way about faith (eg needing to be in control of the ball and being in control in life). I found it very inspiring to hear him talk about how the Baby Basics project in Ballyclare Parish had really inspired him to think about how he might do something similar in Nairobi and his wish to reach out to those who might be feeling stigmatised because of teenage pregnancy, to tell them that God still loved and cared for them, despite what had happened.
Church Mission Society Ireland (CMSI) works to ‘Equip the church in Mission’ by supporting Mission Partners in 9 African countries and in Nepal, and developing links with parishes, groups and individuals here in Ireland. Not content to simply send missionaries to evangelise overseas, they work to establish long lasting relationships to develop Christian faith abroad and at home, raising awareness and funds through these relationships, and underpinning all their work through prayer. St Marks established a link with CMSI in the 1990’s, when following a visit to the parish by Mission Associate Isabelle Prondzynski, a group of parishioners began to support a nursery school in the poor community of Kayole, Nairobi, Kenya. Isabelle painted such a vivid picture of the community, who despite having been moved without warning many miles from their previous slum, had been given small plots of land by the Kenyan government but no other resources, and had come together under the name Tujisaidie, which in Swahili means ‘We help ourselves’. Isabelle organised support for the 250 families by establishing the Urban Development Programme (UDP) through All Saints Cathedral, the capital’s Anglican Cathedral, and over the past 25 years they have gradually built for themselves latrines and small homes, obtained limited supplies of water and occasional electricity, but most importantly to them a community school has developed from a nursery into a full primary school teaching 300 children up to approximately age 13. We have been blessed by a number of visits by Isabelle and UDP coordinator Louise Githire, and Tujisaidie community leader Lucy Irungu. In July 2015 a parish team from St Marks joined a team from Christ Church Bray, Co Wicklow, for a 2 week Mission Experience to Kenya. They spent time at the Cathedral and painted 8 newly plastered classrooms in the school, getting to know the children, teachers, principal andmembers of the community. In March 2017 the Provost of the Cathedral Very Rev Sammy Wainaina joined us in St Marks along with Louise for a week long visit, to learn about our parish life and strengthen our link. You can support this link by praying for our partners on a regular basis. Prayer diaries are available at the back of the Church, along with the latest magazines from CMSI. If you wish to support financially, you can set up a standing order with CMSI (with Gift Aid if appropriate), you can support one of our regular fundraising events, or you can drop a donation into Dorothy Adair’s little tin, which you will in Church (this has raised £1000s over the past 25 years).
To find out more, please speak to our parish CMSI representative Lynn Wilson 07855 455121, or follow the link to the CMSI website,
A link was established with CMSI partners in Yei Diocese in South Sudan a number of years ago, where a vocation training centre was being built. While this is still supported by some parishioners, conflict in the area has led to a huge displacement of people, and the future is very uncertain. As a result, the parish link has not been able to be developed further. Two parishioners (Lesley and Philip Burton) were asked to join a CMSI Mission team to Nepal in 2017, partly due to Lesley’s physiotherapy experience, and the parish supported them with prayer and fundraising. We have learned about the growing church in Nepal as a result of their trip, but no formal parish link has been pursued.
CMSI News - from CMSI Parish Representative Lynn Wilson It was wonderful to hear in February from Lesley and Philip Burton of their work with the CMSI team who visited Nepal in November, and to hear the impact that the funds we helped to raise has made on the church in Kathmandu, as well as the impact on them personally. Our CMSI connections have continued through Lent when our Sunday School children learned and shared with us about their project focussing on the persecuted church in Egypt, and they sold coffee, cakes and craft items from CMSI Marketplace. Thank you to everyone who supported our children’s efforts, to date the proceeds including donations through the CMSI Lenten boxes has raised over £500. I am delighted to share the following update on our Kenyan mission link through All Saints Cathedral/UDP Nairobi, and a visit made by the CMSI Mission Director to our friends in the Tujisaidie primary school in February. Jenny Smyth writes “I witnessed a highly organised school, neat children engaging in class, taught by motivated and interested teachers, all operating in a small and very basic school, but with hope and optimism. I also visited Tumaini ‘hope’ youth centre, a well-kept hall with books, lighting, furniture and several teenagers happily studying. It is run by Antony Njoroge, Lucy Irungu’s son, who organises a football league and a whole range of other activities. The most striking is the monthly meal the teenagers organise when they cook and serve a drop-in lunch for the elderly folk in the area.” The school is currently planning a major refurbishment using funds raised through the 2017 CMSI Children’s Resource ‘Growing in God’ to upgrade facilities to meet standards set by the County authorities so they can be registered for Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations. Funds will also be used for teacher training, the purchase of textbooks and to provide blankets for the young mothers support group. Over the Christmas holidays a first instalment was sent by CMSI to carry out urgently needed repairs to the classroom floors. A CMSI team from St Columba’s Portadown, and Drumglass, Dungannon is currently preparing to visit the school in July/August this year to work with the teachers and children and to help out with some of the renovation work. Please keep this team in your prayers, and we look forward to sending some messages with them to our friends, Louise, Lucy and Provost Sammy and hearing their first hand reports on their return.