Canadian Hearts and Hands is a family. All of us; missionaries, benefactors, friends and the people we serve are united together by the injunction to love one another as Christ has loved us. Our love is expressed not only in our compassion and generosity but also in the remembrance of each other’s need in prayer.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58
Over the past two years, we have been working diligently to complete renovations in preparation for our grand opening on January 4th,2022.
The center includes four counselling rooms, an infirmary, library, technology room, and an arts and crafts center. The building is fully accessible. The dormitory will accommodate 20 boys and 20 girls between the ages of 5-12, as well as staff. There are also accommodations for up to 16 youth/adults. Our dining hall can hold 60 people.
Outdoors, we have created recreational areas, including sports fields and a track. Two greenhouses will allow the center to grow its own fruits and vegetables.
Residents and visitors can find relaxation and peace in our oasis area, with shaded seating and a man-made pond.
We are extremely grateful for the success of our awareness programs, which have reached a wide variety of people, educating them on the importance of protecting women and children from dangerous domestic situations. Referrals are now being accepted.
Canadian Hearts and Hands is excited to announce our new project, the St. Therese Development and Rehabilitation Center for abused women, infants and children, over 22 acres of land in Naivasha, Kenya.
The Guiding Star multi-purpose education building was officially opened and the children are now attending school there every day during the week. In addition to opening the school, the ground for Total Health Clinic — a medical facility within the compound that will provide care to the children as well as patients from the local community—was broken on this day with help from our Honorable guest, Sherif Gerges. Sherif helped to fund the construction of both the school and the clinic by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro the week before his visit to St. Therese Development Center. For more information on Sherif’s climb, please visit the “Kilimanjaro Climb” link at the top of our homepage.
several DHL representatives visited us including: Ken Allen – Global CEO, Charlie Dobbie – Executive Vice President Global Network Operations: Aviation and IT, Charles Brewer – Managing Director Sub-Saharan Africa, Ezra Ogutu – Services Manager, Kenya, Benjamin Rop – Fleet Supervisor, Kenya, and Susan Njoroge – Marketing & Communications Manager, East Africa. Our staff and children were overwhelmed by the generosity of these individuals when they presented each child with several personalized gifts. DHL has been an extremely gracious partner and have sponsored a large shipment of supplies to be sent in June from Canada to our home in Naivasha, Kenya. During their visit, DHL also announced that they will be donating a school bus to St. Therese Development Center.
- A fence around the land will be built first to secure the property.
- Next, a bore hole will be dug on the property to provide free water for the center and the community.
- Playgrounds will be developed, including basketball, football and volleyball fields.
- Construction of The Morning Star Building will begin. This will be a 2-storey rehabilitation center for orphans and abused children. The building will include dormitories, living quarters for supervisors, a library, an education center and a dining hall.
- Construction of The Guiding Star Building will begin. This multi-purpose building will contain four classrooms, a conference hall and a workshop.
- Construction of eight outdoor washrooms.
- Five acres of land will be developed for farming. This farmland will serve as a site for agricultural classes in addition to providing food for the center.
- A medical lab will be constructed. Four examination areas, a lab, a pharmacy, and offices to accommodate the social worker and psychologist for the center will be included. The medical center will be available to the entire community, which consists of 3000 families.
- Four houses, each accommodating 10 young women, will be built on the property.
- Construction of 2 day care centers
- Health awareness programs will be implemented, including sexual education and abuse prevention.
All education and prevention programs for young mothers and children will begin as soon as the facilities are available.
As this project begins, we turn confidently to the words of Jesus, who promised us:
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Nairobi is Kenya’s largest city and its national capital. As in any capital, Nairobi is a modern city; advanced, populous and hectic. However, as in many African urban centers, Nairobi suffers from widespread criminal activity, poverty and a high rate of unemployment. The city contains Africa’s largest and poorest slum, called Kibera, with a population of 500 000 to 1 million people. Many of these people move from the rural areas into the city and end up living in these slums.
PROBLEMS IN NAIROBI:
Although the problems in Nairobi are numerous, Canadian Hearts and Hands has chosen to focus on the plight of the children. In the surrounding slums, many children are exposed to a life without health care, education or hope. Many of them are orphans, left to fend for themselves in the streets. Others have turned to working as domestics or have become involved in criminal activity. Drug abuse is rampant, and others are forced into prostitution.
Canadian Hearts and Hands, in partnership with the Salesian Order, is currently working to alleviate the problem by taking in street children in the Langata area of Nairobi, providing them with the means and support that they need to live full, productive lives.
NAIROBI MISSION UPDATE 2010
As Canadian Hearts and Hands enters its seventh year of service, we are privileged to undertake a very important project. For a number of years now, we have been ministering to street children and youth, providing them with a loving environment in which to develop their full potential. 2010 marks the beginning of a landmark objective in our Nairobi Mission to better provide for the needs of the most helpless in the community. Our current facility houses about 40 children at a time. Our goal is to increase the number of children we serve to 600. Through the generosity of donors and supporters, the Home for Rising Stars is planning an expansion in order to serve a greater number. This labour of love will take a great deal of effort and we rely on the grace of God and the continued support of our friends to ensure a brighter future for our students.
The Machakos Catholic Technical Training Institute, more commonly referred to as the “Better Centre”, is situated thirteen kilometres outside of the city of Machakos along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway. The centre is thirteen kilometres from the centre of the city and currently houses 84 students. The centre began twenty years ago as a finishing facility for teachers, which eventually fell into disrepair. In 2005 his Excellency, Martin Kivuva, the bishop of Machakos, approached Canadian Hearts and Hands with regards to the renovation and renewal of the centre. The centre now functions as a technical institute which focuses on the training and education of youth from diverse backgrounds; some have dropped out of school, others cannot afford to pay tuition, and some want a new start in life. All of them are able to find a home at the “Better Centre”.
PROBLEMS IN MACHAKOS:
The centre itself was not structurally sound. Over the years, it had deteriorated from lack of upkeep and it was not suitable for accommodation. The centre consists of 3 dormitories, four classrooms, a dining hall, kitchen and workshop as well as a separate building to house staff. There was no running water in the facility and plumbing was substandard. The sewage system had not been functioning for some time due to clogged drains, and residents were forced to dig holes around the property to use as temporary septic tanks. The centre had access to electricity but, due to faulty wiring and unrepaired fixtures, the centre was limited to using one light bulb per room. The tin roofs were rusty and in dire need of replacement. The kitchen lacked proper equipment and ventilation, resulting in hazardous accumulations of soot and smoke. Classrooms and workshops did not have adequate machinery and furniture to train students in their courses.
Due to its location, the Training Institute was vulnerable to crime. In rural areas cases of theft and destruction of property are quite common. The centre is ten acres of property situated in the middle of an open plain along the highway and fenced only with chicken wire. In the area, many places (convents, churches, schools, as well as homes) have fallen victim to robbery and violence from criminals.
Although the property consists of ten acres, the land around the property is not arable. There have been many previous attempts to develop the land for agriculture to support the needs of the centre. However, the poor quality of the soil and the dry climate of the area have yielded little in the way of crops. The land was overrun with thorn bushes which resulted in infestations of snakes and other vermin.
Students were taught the basics of their courses without practical experience. Courses like auto repair and tailoring were taught using only theoretical methods with very little equipment. Teachers were not completely qualified as the school could not afford properly trained teachers.
Water is a necessity as in any community. The centre was in desperate need of water because its sources were running out. Originally, the centre depended only on rain for its water source. However, this limited source does not always provide for the needs of the community because of the dry climate of the region. Rain is collected in concrete tanks which have deteriorated over time. Water was rationed carefully as this was the only source of usable water. All of these factors had an impact on the life of the centre. Decreased morale, increasing health problems and lack of proper materials contributed to the deterioration of the spirit and purpose of the facility
The parish of Nzaikoni covers about 93 square kilometres with a population of 71,000. The community is situated in the lower region of the Kenyan highlands and water is scarce during the dry season. The main water source is rain water collected during the rainy season and stored in tanks. Piped water is available but only in certain areas, albeit minimal and irregular.
The area is served by one water treatment plant. Most families depend on subsistence farming to support themselves. Families of 8 to 12 people on average rely on a small plot of land they own for their food. Crops include corn, mango, sugarcane, coffee and various legumes. Many also raise poultry to supplement their income.
Transportation in the area is poor due to mountainous terrain, with underdeveloped or unrepaired roads. In fact, during rainy seasons travel is virtually impossible, resulting in crops not being taken to the market and a decrease in income. This is a daily problem in the region. Electricity is rare in the area. Many have tried to apply for installations in the community but poor management and lack of funds have not made this possible. The parish of Nzaikoni has done many things to alleviate various problems in the community. Currently, two priests serve the parish and the 19 centres that are dependent upon it.
PROBLEMS IN NZAIKONI:
Because of a lack of education, most people in Nzaikoni are employed in low paying jobs. Due to its geography, most of this labour is agricultural. Many travel to larger cities such as Nairobi to find work, only to end up with low paying menial jobs. The federal government provides very little financial support to communities, resulting in poor infrastructure.
Agriculture is a major source of income; however, due to high taxation and exploitation from private companies, farmers make very little. Poor infrastructure (transportation, communication) also means that products cannot be taken to the market, especially during the rainy season. Modern technology, with regards to farming/ livestock techniques, is also inaccessible to the community, resulting in poorer yields. On the average, most people make about 60-70 shillings/ day. ($1 CAN)
Most people in Nzaikoni are under educated due to poor financial status. Only recently did the government waive tuition fees for primary school. However, middle and secondary school is still paid for by the family, costing up to $600.00 CAN/ year. Most children stop their schooling until sufficient funds are met, resulting in gaps of years within their education.
Three of the largest health problems facing the community are Typhoid Fever, Malaria and HIV/AIDS. Poor health in farmers leads to less work in the fields and less income for the family
PIEDRAS NEGRAS, MEXICO:
The community of Piedras Negras is situated in the northern state of Coahuila, on the US – Mexican Border. It is about 150 miles south of San Antonio, Texas. It is also a newly founded diocese, covering about 57 000 square kilometres, with a population of 550 000.
The missionary base was in the parish of San Antonio de Padua, about one hour and a half outside of the city proper. The area is divided into districts called colonias. Each has a chapel wherein the community gathers for mass, teaches catechism to children, with some even functioning as a clinic. Currently, there is one parish priest serving the 12 outstations dependent upon it.
Missionaries worked in many of these centres: San Antonio de Padua, San Isidro, Nuestra SeÃ±ora del Refugio, Nuestra SeÃ±ora del Santo Rosario, and Santissima Trinidad.
PROBLEMS IN PIEDRAS NEGRAS:
Employment & Education
Employment and education go hand in hand in Piedras Negras. Many of the areaâ€™s population work in low income jobs because they do not have access to higher education, which means they do not earn enough to send their children to school. For many, the only option is for the children to also earn income by working in the city. Children, some as young as eight or nine years old, work by selling cigarettes or newspapers in traffic, bagging groceries or working as domestic help. Many who are unemployed and are not in school have turned to crime. Gangs, mostly composed of youth, have become a problem in the area.
There is no lack of services in Piedras Negras. In the city as well as in areas outside there are doctors, dentists, optometrists and orthodontists. The problem is that many do not have access to these services because they cannot afford it. Medication, even for basic conditions, can be hard to afford for families who have little income. In the parish, there is a doctor who volunteers her services during week-ends and there is no shortage of patients who come to see her.
In April 2005, the area experienced a disastrous flood. Due to unusually heavy rain, the Rio Escondido overflowed its banks and rose 25 feet, flooding the city. Bridges were wiped out, homes were demolished and many lives were lost. Citizens who were used to a dry and desert-like climate did not expect the torrents of rain, let alone flooding that would devastate the entire city. Many of the casualties were either young children or the elderly.
WHAT WE DID
*In 2003, we started with repairs to CARITAS, a charitable organization which provides for underprivileged families and to the parish church of San Antonio de Padua.
*The situation of the centre of Nuestra SeÃ±ora del Santo Rosario was presented to Canadian Hearts and Hands. Throughout 2003 and 2004, funds were raised to pay for the land as well as begin construction of the actual centre.
*Participation in many activities with the local children including English classes, soccer tournaments and Catechism.
*Construction of the clinic and learning centre attached to the Rosario centre.
*Furnishing the learning centre with computers donated from Canada.
*During the flood of 2004, funds were raised and donated to the community through the Diocese of Piedras Negras