A common humanity

The people of Kenya are undergoing a tough economic situation. Each one has to struggle to meet their family’s daily needs. The Church is present in all of this and offers its support. Our little sisters face all this right in the middle of their neighbourhood. They share about it with passion.

Umoja II (Nairobi) is an estate that is alive with the activities of families, workers, traders, students as well as the less fortunate e.g., alcoholics, drug victims and people from different nations. It has no shortage of different Christian denominations and Islam. The Synodal way could have originated here, where the sense of our common bond as human beings is real. Life is good. We grow over time through sleeping, walking, working, crying, laughing, creating relationships that lead to communion and enjoying life together. We live the Synodal way spontaneously. When someone dies a group comes together to fundraise on the main street and we all contribute for burial whether we knew them or not, taking time to look at the photos and listen to the story of the dead person. We join in thanksgiving for a new born child, the healing of a sick person, a successful student who passes exams for secondary school or university.

We appreciate the community of traders in our neighborhood who enable us to live the apostolate of friendship in the streets. In the Kenyan (African) world view, greetings are not insignificant words but a spiritual activity. Greetings bring a sense of belonging to the area and to a larger community. What matters is not to just buy things but to exchange news and offer mutual support.

The relationship we witness between children in our streets and the games they play are a school of littleness. Through watching them we learn the power of a littleness that knows no barriers. They embrace each other as children growing together as Kenyans (and not as members of ethnic groups). When they fight, they run to Anna Lucia who listens to each one and reconciles them, fostering the value of saying sorry or thank you.

Our compound (courtyard) is a place of relationships too.

  • The first door neighbor Mrs. Zawadi[1] spent many hours sitting outside during her illness. She passed away last year. Her passing brought the whole compound together in uniting with her children to welcome those who came to console them by making tea, serving, washing dishes and praying with members from her church (Anglican).
  • The city council gives us water from Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday morning. We are six families in our plot and each has their tap and water meter. When water comes, we are all out fetching water to fill our storage containers. Water brings us together to share news while filling the buckets. It’s a unique opportunity where we listen, challenge and appreciate each other. This helps us to meet and experience God’s presence and His gentle touch. Josephine Ilava fills our next-door neighbor’s containers since they come home late from work. Sometimes there is a scarcity of water and as each one tries to fetch enough, tensions arise and communications can break up. When tensions and misunderstandings last too long, we invite people over to our house for a cup of tea. We read God’s word and pray together in a very simple way. One of the ladies, mama Amani[1], is an intercessor from a different denomination. It’s our little way of helping to heal and reconcile differences, restoring normality. Life is before us, rich and plentiful.
  • Sharing fruits and vegetables when each comes from upcountry or borrowing salt is a sign of trust.

Once a week Josephine Ilava visits the sick in a referral hospital in our area along with a community health worker and dedicated member of the Sacred Heart movement. They do follow up visits to patients once they are discharged into the neighborhood and visit other sick people. We too visit the sick, especially those in our neighborhood. Tabitha is committed to the elderly and the sick members of our small Christian community. Anna Lucia, Josephine Ilava, Tabitha Njoki, and Wambui

[1] The names of the persons mentioned have been changed to respect their privacy.