From Sept. 10, 2015 Catholic Spirit
Kenya next country to be helped by Catholic Charities Solidarity Team
By Debra Miller, Correspondent
Envision your livelihood and your home suddenly in ruins. Visualize walking several miles every day just to have fresh water to drink. Imagine becoming orphaned and being head of your family because your parents were victims of a tsunami.
Every day, the news makes us painfully aware of the extreme struggles that many poor children and their families experience around the world and here at home. But, what can we do? As Christians, we have an obligation. As Catholics, we have an opportunity.
Since its formation 13 years ago, the Diocese of Metuchen Catholic Charities Solidarity Team (CCST) has focused on initiatives from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as issues that Catholic Relief Services (CRS) deems as priorities. The all-volunteer CCST selects a complex project and dedicates its time and resources to strategizing how to resolve it. Recently CCST announced its latest effort, “Prosper Project,” is gearing up to assist Kenyan families in navigating healthcare and economic programs. Msgr. Joseph J. Kerrigan, founder of CCST, said there were two reasons the group has chosen to help Kenyans.
“In general we wanted to give the faithful in Metuchen more opportunities to practice solidarity overseas, and Africa and the Middle East were two regions we have not touched yet,” he explained.
“More importantly, in all we do at CCST, we value relationships and accompaniment. The former CRS director in Guatemala, Lane Bunkers, was re-assigned to Kenya in 2014. We worked very well with him in Guatemala and wanted to continue that relationship. We also had a priest from Kenya, Father Gilbert Otieno, preach in the mission cooperative program in the Metuchen diocese one year, and some of our CCST members met him and wanted to help him. With a good relationship already in place with CRS and local Kenyan clergy, we felt we were in a good position to make a fruitful commitment to Kenya.”
Deacon Mike Martini of Immaculate Conception Parish, Annandale, was on the board of Catholic Charities when he was tapped to lead the project during an advocacy trip with Msgr. Kerrigan. He calls the project a “very personal journey” and takes advantage of his pulpit time to talk about the work of CCST and how CRSenhances our Catholicism. “I can’t change the world but I can help through my parish,” Martini says. “Preaching with a social justice theme gets a positive response. We can all be proud of what the church does.”The .rst CCST project began in partnership with the Diocese of Santa Rosa in coastal Guatemala in 2003. Led by Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski, a nine-member team traveled there on a 10-day mission to get orientated to the needs of the region. Upon their return, they determined that education, healthcare, agriculture and family stabilization needed urgent addressing.
Many parishes in the diocese answered the call to fundraise and even sent delegations to the Latin America country to offer prayers, expertise and their time to help the local community throughout several years.
Felix Odhiambo teaches business and geography at the local high school when he is on holiday from Karatina University. Recently, the diocese's Catholic Charities Solidarity Team announced its latest effort, “Prosper Project” is gearing up to assist Kenyan families in navigating healthcare and economic programs.
Replacing her tin shop with a brickand- mortar store is one investment Janet Anyango Okeyo plans to make using money she saved through a CRS-supported Savings and Internal Lending Community. — photos by Sara A. Fajardo/CRS
As a result, most all of the Santa Rosa priorities were addressed, including two new mile-long potable water pipelines, the installation of fuel-efficient nonpolluting stoves in remote mountain villages, five professionally-staffed clinics, school scholarship incentives for young girls and a micro-lending program for villagers to achieve financial independence.
Msgr. Kerrigan, who also serves as pastor of Holy Family Parish in New Brunswick, founded the CCST volunteer group when he was director of Metuchen’s CRS.We initially tried to mimic and miniaturize how Catholic Relief Services worked out of its headquarters in Baltimore, but after our success in Guatemala, we began to localize our work and give it our own signature,” he said.
When the 2004 South Asian Tsunami devastated a region of India, CRS immediately committed to participating in the recovery process. It was CCST that continued to go to the country every two years to manage orphan care, housing and restoration of the fishing industry there.
When comprehensive immigration reform began to rise nationwide in 2005, Justice for Immigrants was formed by the diocese in response to the growing Catholic drive to address the issue. CCST volunteers stepped up to write opinion pieces, join rallies and speak at parish events and to groups about the Catholic Church’s perspective.
In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines. CSST mobilized and raised more than $600,000 within the diocese to help the one million people who were displaced. A Haiyan task force was formed and delegates made regular trips to the stricken area to help in relocating those who lost their homes in the storm.
Though only one-quarter of the diocesan parishes participate in CCST projects, Msgr. Kerrigan doesn’t feel overwhelmed about the task at hand.
“There’s still a lot of ground to cover in the work of solidarity,he said. “Compared to CRS, we are just the little lemonade stand but our team is folks who look at what they do as their main m i n i s try in the Church. Looking toward the future, Msgr. Kerrigan noted that CCST has begun the program development phase of two initiatives in the Middle East.With the refugee crisis in Syria, we made a two-fold decision: to start helping Caritas Lebanon, who is doing the bulk of the refugee work within Lebanon, and to explore starting a refugee resettlement program within the Diocese of Metuchen for refugees cleared by the U.S. State Department,” he said.
The lives of hundreds of villagers in a half-dozen communities in India, Guatemala and the Philippines have improved thanks to CCST intervention. It’s of mutual benefit for everyone involved; the volunteers are treated like family and welcomed into villagers’ homes.
CCST convenes once a month and welcomes new members. Meetings and information about their annual dinner fundraiser Oct. 29 in Somerset are posted on its website: www.ccsolidarity.org.
NEW INITIATIVE (SUMMER 2015):
Fresh off the successful completion of Ligodho Water Project in Homa Bay, CCST is now poised to partner with Catholic Relief Services in a multi-year, multi-donor endeavor called, "The Prosper Project."
CRS is celebrating its 50th anniversary in Kenya, and has developed strategies in education, microfinance, and HIV treatment. This CRS video offers some great testimony.
Deacon Mike Martini is our lead CCST contact in participation in the Prosper Project. We anticipate supporting CRS in this endeavor from 2015-19.
To make a donation toward the project, please begin here.
OUR HISTORY IN KENYA: LIGODHO WATER PROJECT (2013-15)
The Ligodho Water Project in southwest Kenya was promoted and funded in part by the Passionist Missionaries and Caritas of Rome.
Lighodho Village is in the Homa Bay district of Nyanza Province. The Passionist Missionaries are animators of the project and Fr. Gilbert Otieno Omolo is the US contact. Fr. Omolo has preached in missionary co-op churches in the Metuchen Diocese, and is mission coordinator for his community in the United States.
The people in Ligodho are mostly peasant farmers, livestock keepers. They meet a lot of challenges with their animals during the dry spells as they walk approximately 7km (4.3 miles) with their livestock in search of water. They grow mostly food crops to sustain their families -- maize, sorghum, and groundnuts. The average daily wage for each family in this village is about 2 Euros (3 US dollars).
More than 3,600 villagers will benefit from the new well, which, as of February 2015, is functioning, blessed and basically complete. A remaining part of the project design is a second water tank and a standby energy source.
The people of the Village are responsible for the direct labor, stones, sand and concrete necessary for this project. They will also be responsible for the proper functioning and maintenance of the equipment. The project is going to be under ownership of the members of Ligodho project. The land on which the borehole is drilled was donated by one of the members of the village to Ligodho water project. There will be leadership guidance given by the local Passionist Missionaries until the village people are comfortable enough to bear full responsibility for the operation of the pump and the borehole. The water committee will be instrumental in organizing the members of the village towards bearing full responsibility of the project. The total cost of the project is approximately $35,000 and the Passionists and Caritas Rome are among have partially supported the project.
SITUATION OF THE PROJECT
The borehole has been drilled to a depth of 150 meters. The casings have been dropped in the borehole. Pump testing has been done and the capacity of the borehole has been established to be 3000-4000 liters per hour. Water analysis has been done and it has been proved that the water from this borehole is clean and good for human consumption. The tower for the tank has been built.
Project sustainability is very optimistic and assured since the project idea originally came from the local people through a participatory approach to the project identification, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Moreover, the project will be sustainable since the community possesses a sense of ownership for the project through financial and material contributions. The families will give small monthly contributions toward the maintenance and repair of the pump. New knowledge and skills on operation and maintenance of the pump will be provided by the experts from water and borehole drilling company, to the local community in order to sustain the water pumps after the project completion. The water committee, consisting of men and women elected by the members from the Village, will be charged with the responsibility of managing and maintaining the bore hole through the collection of a monthly fee from each household as a maintenance fee.
Thus, when the entire Village is vested in the project, everyone will directly derive benefits from the project, and all will thrive due to healthy, clean, water.
TOTAL COST OF THE PROJECT
- Total proposed budget: Euro: 28,042= $35,052.5USD
- Local currency Ksh. 2,804,200
- Local contribution: Stones, Sand, Concrete and unskilled labor
- Contribution from Caritas San Antoniana (Rome, Italy) 12,000 euros = $15,000 USD
- Contribution from Passionist Justice and Peace office 3000 euros= $3,750 USD
- Local contribution- Euro 1,042= $1,305.50 USD
- Amount for CCST contribution requested: USD. $15,000. This amount will buy 2 water tanks of 10,000 liters each. It will buy a water pump and a generator which will serve as standby source of energy. It will pay the contractor.
FOR MORE ON KENYA: