Children in Need of Safeguarding “now more than ever”: Catholic Bishop in Kenya

Pupils in procession during the feast day of St. Mary’s Primary School Ongata Rongai. Credit: St. Mary’s Primary School Ongata Rongai

Children are exposed to multiple challenges, and stand in need of safeguarding “now more than ever” before, the Bishop of Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Ngong Diocese has said.

In his homily on the feast day of St. Mary’s Primary School Ongata Rongai in in his Episcopal See, Bishop John Oballa Owaa said, “Children need protection. If not now more than ever, children need protection.”

“Children are exposed to a lot of suffering that could be prevented and that ought to be prevented,” Bishop Oballa said during the Wednesday, May 31 Eucharistic celebration, the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth.

The Kenyan Catholic Bishop highlighted the case of Kokwa Island Primary School children who have to cross the crocodile-infested Lake Baringo on foot in search of formal education. 

On May 30, local media reported that the only bridge to the school located within the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru has been destroyed by rising water levels. The only boat used by the pupils has also broken down and is yet to be repaired.


At the event celebrated under the theme that was inspired by the joyful song of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “My Soul Proclaims the Greatness of the Lord”, Bishop Oballa said he found it regrettable that there are cases of children being abused by their parents at home.

The cases of the Kokwa Island Primary School pupils and those of children being abused at home “are some of those areas that tell us how much children need protection”, the Catholic Church leader said.

The fact that some children are not safe at home reflects “truly negatively on the society that we are building,” he further lamented, and added, “We need to take safeguarding issues very seriously so that children are safe wherever they are.”

The Catholic Bishop who heads the Commission for Promotion of Integral Human Development of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) also urged parents to keep investing in their children's formal education.

"Even amid the harsh economic times, invest in these young ones and you will realize that it is the only worthy investment and in helping God bring up and use you as instruments of supporting children," he said.

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The Catholic Church leader who has been at the helm of Ngong Diocese since his Episcopal Consecration in April 2012 urged pupils at St. Mary’s Primary School Ongata Rongai to work hard, and aim at becoming “well-formed” persons. 

"Learners, you have no reason not to perform. You have no reason not to receive that holistic formation. You have every reason and opportunity to rise to the occasion, work hard, and leave this place a well-formed person, ready to face the future with all skills," he said May 31.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.