How Youth at Kenyan Catholic Parish are Supporting Needy Colleagues in Twinning Initiative

Some of the Guests at the one day concert held at St. Mary's auditorium in Nairobi. Credit: ACI Africa

Members of the Kings and Queens youth group of St. Austin’s Catholic Parish of Nairobi Archdiocese in Kenya are reaching out to their needy colleagues in a first evangelization context in the country’s Nakuru Diocese in a twinning initiative that started seven years ago.

Students at Claude Academy, a school in Kenya’s Baringo County, are the primary beneficiaries of the twinning initiative that has delivered multiple infrastructural projects, including a dormitory, a perimeter fence, and new lockers. 

On Saturday, November 2, the group organized a concert dubbed, “The Jingle Hearts Concert”, aimed at raising funds to put up a library at the learning institution named after Claude Francis Poullart des Places, the first founder of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Spiritans/Holy Ghost Fathers/CSSp.).

In an interview with ACI Africa on the sidelines of the November 2 afternoon concert, the Organizing Secretary of the Kings and Queens youth group, Kennedy Ochieng, explained the beginning of the twinning initiative, and how the activities of the youth have had a positive impact on Claude Academy learners’ performance over the years.

Credit: ACI Africa


“The school’s situation based on our assessment in 2016 was wanting,” Mr. Ochieng who was involved in organizing the concert said, adding that the school, which had pioneer pupils in 2009, “was not fenced; there were not enough classrooms.”

The Organizing Secretary who doubles as the Communications Coordinator of St. Austin’s Parish said that the urgent need to address the limited infrastructure at Claude Academy and the vulnerability of learners due to “extreme cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and forced early marriages” and the high illiteracy level upwards of 75 percent prompted the youth at St. Austin’s to act.  

“That is how we settled on the school as we intend to improve the quality of education in the area to enable the children to have equal opportunities to education, (and have) adequate facilities,” Mr. Ochieng told ACI Africa about the mixed day-and-boarding school located in   Chemolingot, Tiati East Subcounty in East Pokot.

The cost for constructing a library at Claude Academy is estimated to cost US$27,000.00, he said, and added that the concert, which was enjoined to the second children holiday camp that was first held in April aimed at raising 12.5% of the estimated cost, and that the balance is to be realized through other initiatives and partnerships.

While the target amount was not raised during the November 2 concert, the less than 800 participants in the event at St. Austin’s Msongari Parish were more than those who participated in the previous concert, Mr. Ochieng said, recalling the 2018 initiative.

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Credit: ACI Africa

Asked whether members of the Kings and Queens youth group have alternative plans to raise additional funds to meet their target, the youth official said that plans are already underway for another concert at Easter 2024 and that tickets for the event will be available from February.

“This concert is just one of the ways of raising the money, most of our support comes from donor funding,” Mr. Ochieng said, and lauded parishioners of Kenya’s first inland Catholic Parish that is set to launch its quasquicentennial Jubilee celebrations on Sunday, December 10 under the theme, “Celebrating 125 years of faith: Walking together in the Holy Spirit”.

As a youth group, he said, “we also sell items such as t-shirts every Sunday and all the profits go towards the initiative.”

The initiatives in support of Claude Academy at Chemolingot in Tiaty Constituency over the years “have had a positive impact on the learners as we have witnessed a performance improvement,” Mr. Ochieng said, and added, “Last year the school topped the Constituency within which it is located.”


Credit: ACI Africa

The full time presence of a member of the Holy Ghost Fathers as School Director has facilitated the sustainability of the institution, he said referencing Fr. Alphonse Malinda Mutua, a Kenyan-born Spiritan.

“After a project is complete, we set aside a budget for sustainability. In terms of renovations, once we establish a project, the school now takes control of it,” Mr. Ochieng further said about the school that has successfully established a Junior Secondary School (JSS).

In a separate interview, Ruth Oyugi, a member of the Kings and Queens youth group, who participated in the fundraiser concert said the event accorded her an opportunity to share her gifts with others.

“This is a great initiative that the youth of this parish are doing to be able to support other youth in Pokot. I am grateful to have been able to participate in the initiative knowing very well that the proceeds will help other youth,” Ms. Oyugi told ACI Africa on December 2.

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“It is long since I performed and this concert allowed me to rekindle my talent,” she further said, and continued, “I long for more of such concerts.”

On her part, the lead director of the dances and the plays for the children at the December 2 concert expressed her satisfaction, describing the events of the day as an opportunity for “talent promotion”.

Credit: ACI Africa

“The children outshined during the event, and I can say that the concert has achieved the intended purpose, even though not 100 percent,” Cheryl Mola Wagwena said.

The children have talent, Ms. Wabwina further said, and added, “Once I spotted it, I had to bring it out by all means. So, the event has been more of a talent promotion.”

The Secondary School teacher said such events are an opportunity to grow talent and encouraged young people to invest in both academic and co-curriculum activities.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.