The Holy Father’s representative in the two African countries noted that the Spiritan Priests go to the most difficult places in the world “because they trust in the Holy Spirit, because they trust in divine providence, because they trust in the love of God who will help them.”
Tangulbei is a hardship area characterized by extreme levels of poverty and illiteracy and is occasioned with violence, according to Fr. Maxwell who spoke to ACI Africa on the sidelines of the Chapter meeting.
Highlighting some of the challenges he has faced since 2016 when he took over the leadership of the mission that is under the patronage of St. Luke, Fr. Maxwell said, “The place is remote and inaccessible; there are high levels of poverty, illiteracy and war.”
Frequent fights among the Pokot, the Ghanaian-born Cleric said, result from economic interests, cultural issues and cattle rustling.
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“Dowry expectation is high also, for example, one is expected to give 50 goats, 18 cows and four camels to get a wife. And here, people rarely marry one wife,” Fr. Maxwell told ACI Africa, adding, “The residents put up with a lot of poverty and most of them survive on only a single meal per day.”
At the January 15 event, the Apostolic Nuncio thanked Lay Spiritan Associates who travelled some 330 kilometres from Kenya’s capital Nairobi, to attend the conclusion of the Chapter in solidarity with their Spiritan Priests.
Addressing the Lay Spiritans, Archbishop van Megen said, “You put yourselves out there. You sacrifice the little you have in order to share it with others who do not have. That is a beautiful gift. Asante sana (Thank you very much).”
The Lay Spiritans donated food to St. Luke, Tangulbei mission centre and visited one of the mission’s schools where they donated Ksh. 100,000 (US$1,000.00). Some members also took up the sponsorship of a number of vulnerable children in the school.
The group’s chairman Raphael Mutisya said their visit to the Spiritan mission had enlightened the members of the suffering of the vulnerable poor as well as the work of the Spiritan Clerics in hardship areas.
“We have seen the difference between the Pokot children who go to school and those who stay out there in the mountains and rocks, doing nothing the whole day. And we appreciate that our Fathers are doing a wonderful job,” Mr. Mutisya told ACI Africa.
Fr. Joseph Shio who is the correspondent between the Rome-based General Council of the Spiritans and the Eastern African region applauded the Lay Spiritans in Kenya who he said were behind development projects in various hardship places where the Spiritans minister.
“The developments we see here today didn’t just drop from the sky. There is development because people worked for it and because there are people in the Church who are eager to be part of the Spiritan charism,” Fr. Shio said.
The Tanzanian-born Cleric added, “For this, I say a big thank you to the Spiritan Lay Associates for sharing the Spiritan charism. Whatever you are doing now will bear fruits that will be seen for generations to come.”
The Rome-based Spiritan Cleric further lauded the Kenya Province Spiritans “for going into places where the Church has the challenge of getting people to work in those places.”
He further said, “Tangulbei is one of the areas in which the Province has invested most of its energy and resources. And so, we ask that you continue working in this area with the same selflessness you started with.”
Fr. Shio pledged to tell the story of his confreres seeking to alleviate poverty and illiteracy among the Pokot community saying, “When I go back to Rome, I know I have a lot of information to deliver to the congregation’s Superior. I will also report on the desire of the hospital staff to have a theater for the hospital’s surgical operations.”
“I do not make any promises of financial support but I will surely tell the story of the need of this hospital and if all goes well, something will surely happen,” Fr. Shio said.
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.