A Glimpse of Kenya


A Glimpse of Kenya

Nora Bourke rscj with an eager student of English

Nora Bourke rscj reflects on the time she spent in
Kibera in Nairobi
and in
Chekelini in Kenya
on an
Outreach with Students from Ireland.

Nora's reflection weaves words, from the letter for the Feast of the Sacred Heart,
for that year, with her experience.

"Rootedness and reaching out to share God’s love with the world."
“Rooted in the world where we are.
(Kathleen Conan’s letter for the Feast of the Sacred Heart)

At home in Kibera

 Finding the Face of God

The encouragement
I received for this journey
to Kenya came from
the setting in which I work.

The love, generosity and support came from the hearts of those whom I teach 
in disadvantaged
Dublin (Ireland)

Their tears for the children,
their donations and wishes,

when their own lives are facing recession, cutbacks and fears, left me in no doubt where I was finding “the face of God,the resources for love and the capacities for life”.

Reaching out to share God’s love with the world.

I reached Kenya, bringing with me all I could and a deep desire to give my all. However once there, I was quickly on the receiving end. God’s love was there in the welcoming communities of Nairobi and Chekalini; in the witness of staff working in Kibera from 7 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. and full of joy in the doing; in our students who worked incredibly hard throughout their duration there. The students brought so much, gave so much and left so much including their own clothes and shoes.


 Caoimhe & Anita rscj (India) painting at Chekalini

After four weeks in Kibera we had remaining,
four students who moved to Chekalini.
This was a shift from the vibrancy of Kibera
to a very low key residential unit for the severely disabled.
The tempo had to change and
it was a challenge to meet their needs.


                                             Dinner time at Kibera

What inspired me most
was that Sister Becky Louke,
who brought this unit to fruition,
has employed the disabled
to run the unit with her.
These carers radiated their love
for the children and
used their own abilities.
There was no need for the question
“Where did I see God’s face”?

Sister Becky had a vision, enabled by those who worked
in Chekalini before her.
She is not ruled by western thinking,clinically organised,  but on
forming a true home where these children are nurtured.
How St Madeleine Sophie would rejoice and Jesus, in letting the children come to Him
as they are.
Priorities of our western thinking take second place when one has to worry about having enough for breakfast. Seeing the maize crop turn to chaff for cattle before my eyes was a heartbreak.

Two volunteers with Carmel Flynn rscj

This trip masterminded by Sister Carmel Flynn,
who by bringing students for this experience,
has brought Africa into the hearts and
homes of the Irish Families(*).

Self effacing about her skills, she organised, listened, advised,
calmed and brought lots of fun and diplomacy
to keep diverse age groups of students happy.


Nora continues her reflection

Children walking the roads

My consolation as I arrived in Kibera
each day, was
resilient pre-schoolers
awaiting to out manoeuvre me,

because of my lack of Ki Swahili.
Yet with years of anticipating where the mischievous eyes were leading,
they rarely succeeded, except in giving me great amusement and pleasure.

“Where are the hearts of people crying out?"

Quick learners, computer skills, shared with Irish Volunteers

In many respects I could say that
it was the students who, being away from home, in another culture,
were unknownst to themselves
expressing needs in their own lives.
At each turn they too received,

even if only another point of view.

“Therein lies a new situation in our contemporary life
that calls out for God’s life and love.”

I am grateful for the opportunity afforded me

by the Irish Scottish province to be a
“little part of the cosmos in all these capacities.”

Thank God all returned safe and well.

Nora Bourke rscj
Province of Ireland-Scotland

(*) The Irish Missionary Union has published a directory of Faith based Overseas Volunteering Programs. Among them is Helping U Grow, an organisation that links young people with rscj in ministry in Uganda and Kenya.
The goal of the programme is to offer people the opportunity to experience another culture while doing some voluntary work and raising their awareness of realities different from their own.