Today over 800 students, staff and parents have come together to celebrate Mary Rice Day in Hobart Tasmania. A highlight of the day is the Walkathon where students walk laps of the College grounds to raise funds for their brothers and sisters at the Mary Rice Centre.
The walkathon is the culmination of four months of fundraising activities that will enable to the College to make a significant donation to the Mary Rice Centre to assist with its operational costs for 2017/2018.
On Saturday Acting Principal Terry Blizzard will leave Hobart and make the journey to Kibera to visit the specially abled children of the Centre and to bring with him the prayers and best wishes of the St Virgil’s College community. In the Mary Rice Centre Liturgy prior to the Walkathon Mr Blizzard commended the boys on their courage; “I am proud that as a school community we have had the courage to stand with our brothers and sisters from the Mary Rice Centre and to pray and raise funds on their behalf. We have not accepted the inequity that exists between human beings in Australia and Africa and have had the courage to do something about it. This is what our readings of the Gospels challenge us to do and what our founder Blessed Edmund Rice did when he set up his first school in Waterford – have courage the good seed will grow”.
Mary Rice Day continues the strong two way partnership that exists between the Centre and St Virgil’s College. Director Br Gerald has spent time at St Virgil’s and is in regular contact with senior staff at the College. The activities of the Centre are very much in the hearts of the boys of St Virgil’s College as they live out the school motto – “by deeds, not words alone”.
It was all smiles as Purity left the hospital bed where she has spent 8 months. Purity was hit by a train on 30th December 2014. The accident resulted in the amputation of both her legs and left arm.
Purity’s story is one of resilience amidst life’s greatest challenges. Even though Purity has been mentally handicapped since birth, her mother, a single parent, has never abandoned her in all the challenges that came as a result of being mentally handicapped. As if that was not enough for this single mother living in the heart of Kibera, this most recent tragedy has struck.
Through the very generous support from Anthony Ryan and Louise Allison, Purity’s mother has been able to support her other two children, while staying with Purity next to her hospital bed for the last 8 months. Anthony and Louise are angels sent by God to mama
Purity. Through them, she knows that God has not abandoned her. She wishes to express her deep gratitude to them and to the Gone Fishin’ group that visited her in the Hospital. We look forward to welcoming Purity back to School when school re-opens next month.
Br Gerald Mgalula
Mary Rice children and Staff were given a rare opportunity to visit Rock City, a venue of the picnic, where everyone, especially the children, enjoyed this trip out of the city. This was a fun-filled day that took place just before the Centre closes for the August holiday.
At Rock city, the children were treated to fun-filled games: boat rides; Toddlers’ Splash (an inflatable toddler swimming pool with a slide); swings; a merry go-round; and a motor-cycle track. Amazingly, some of the children knew how to swim better than the staff!
The food was very good and plentiful. The children expressed their excitement and happiness on this trip by asking that the next trip should come sooner!
The staff too were very happy and excited that everything had went according to plan and that every child returned home feeling happy.
To the supporters of Mary Rice Centre, we thank you for the continued support and more specifically for supporting this trip, which was so beneficial to the children in many aspects.
The afternoon of Monday June 8 witnessed a beehive of activities to welcome the Australian High Commissioner to Kenya, His Excellency Mr John Feakes who made an informal visit with his family to the Mary Rice Centre.
Parents and members of staff together with the pupils, joined hands to welcome our special guests, showing their appreciation by singing songs of praise to God the Almighty.
The Area Chief also graced the occasion together with other visitors from the locality.
In his speech, His Excellency the High Commissioner expressed how humbled he was to witness the great work that Mary Rice staff are doing in serving the needy children. He thanked them for their generosity and commitment in their service of the children and their families for the warm welcome extended to him and his family.
His Excellency commented that the experience of visiting Mary Rice is an eye opener for him. The High Commissioner also visited some of the homes in Kibera slum from where some of the children at Mary Rice live. In a very moving testimony, a parent of a child of Mary Rice explained how his daughter who is handicapped and was not able to stand up on her own is now able to walk. He thanked the donors in Australia who have made this possible.
In his farewell, the High Commissioner promised to pay another visit to the Centre in the not too distant future.
As members of Mary Rice, we thank God for the wonderful gift of friends.
Last year, Mary Rice Centre purchased a nearby house to be used for programs which help parents of children with disabilities develop income-generating activities. It is named Virgilian House in recognition of the support of the St Virgil’s College community in Hobart.
For over a year, the Centre has been harassed by another agency over its right to use this house. This controversy reached serious dimension recently when some local youths demolished the wall of Virgilian House. The neighbour eventually put up a gate and locked it, blocking access to the house.
Br Gerald Mgalula, Director of Mary Rice Centre, has had countless visits to the various Government offices seeking help so that the parents of children of the Mary Rice Centre can continue uninterrupted with their income-generating activities.
His unrelenting efforts finally resulted in success. On Friday June 5, Nairobi County Chief of Staff George Wainaina, flanked by Joash Olum (Member of Parliament –Langata), Alex Otieno (Member of County Assembly), Richard Juma (Chief of Mugumoini Location) and about one hundred parents and friends of Mary Rice Centre, gathered at the site on which Virgilian House is situated to have the stand-off between the owner of the Good Heart Foundation and the Centre resolved.
The Chief of Staff, after inspecting the grounds, promised that on Monday June 8 the County Surveyor would come and divide the property into two and give occupancy licenses to the Good Heart Foundation and the Mary Rice Centre respectively.
This outcomes is a great relief to parents, staff, and all those who are interested in the wellbeing of the Mary Rice Centre. The leaders who visited were moved by the great ministry that Mary Rice is rendering to the disadvantaged children and expressed their disappointment with anyone who is blocking this service delivery to the underprivileged of our society.
L–‐R Joash Olum (MP Langata), George Wainaina (Chief of Staff Nairobi County, Alex Otieno (Member of County Assembly) with parents and friends of the Mary Rice community.
On February 27 St Virgil’s College opened and blessed its new canteen amphitheatre on its Austins Ferry campus in Hobart, Australia. A defining feature of the amphitheatre is a large artwork which highlights the College’s ‘strategic star’ and its link to the Edmund Rice Education Charter and the Archbishop’s Charter for Catholic education.
Featured under the heading of ‘Leadership’ is a picture of Mary Rice Centre Director Br Gerald Mgalula and St Virgil’s Principal Mr Damian Messer. The photo was taken at the Centre last year when Mr Messer visited as part of the Carrigg Karibu program.
The artwork is a daily reminder of the strong link between St Virgil’s College and the Mary Rice Centre students and their community.
The children at the Mary Rice Centre have made a great start to the term and are very happy this term, due in part to an amazing gift from the community of St Virgil’s College in Hobart, Australia. St Virgil’s surprised the students of Mary Rice with the donation of a unique gift – four iPads with a range of apps and educational games that will help our children learn through acquiring different experiences and skills.
This is a wonderful gift for the children as it enables them to learn and experience success in areas such as preloaded alphabet training, games, cartoons, painting and other programs that they can be educated in by their teachers. The iPad will encourage and support both the children and their teachers in advancing with the technology and also learning new ways in which they can utilise and benefit from technology based learning.
The children were delighted to be able to play some games that contained animal pictures and were able to join the puzzle and identify the names of each animal. The children were working nicely with each other and greatly enjoyed using their new iPads, even if most of them did not have a clue on how to use them! However once shown and directed they quickly worked out how to operate them. Staff could quickly see concentration levels of the children when using the iPad; they showed so much interest in learning how to use the iPad and celebrated their success when tasks were completed.
We are very grateful to the St Virgil’s College community and their partner RTG Solutions for this wonderful gesture and their ongoing thoughts and prayers for all children and staff at the Mary Rice Centre. This gift will lay a wonderful foundation for the children who are currently with us at the Centre. We appreciate this great act of kindness from St Virgil’s and will always be grateful.
Thank you so much.
Meet Nicholas Muhanji, a ten-year-old boy from the mainstream school – St. Charles Lwanga Primary School where Mary Rice Centre is hosted. Nicholas had a Tran’s femoral amputation due to cancer when he was seven years old. Luckily enough the stump healed well and he was trained to walk using crutches.
Nicholas faced numerous challenges physically, psychologically and socially. For instance walking from home to school was difficult and tiring because of the poor pathways along the Kibera slums not forgetting the distance. On the other hand his self-esteem was also affected because he felt bad not being able to walk with his both legs like other normal children of his age and play his favourite games like football.
However, in May this year as part of our outreach program in Mary Rice Centre we decided to include children from the mainstream school who had different forms of disabilities into our therapy sessions.
Through our networking we were able to get an above knee prosthesis for Nicholas from an organization called Jaipur for free. The prosthesis itself would have cost Ksh 150,000 which is unaffordable for Nicholas’s parents. We are currently training him on independent walking using the parallel bar, muscle strengthening activities and balance coordination.
So far he is doing well and he is very positive about it and he is walking using one clutch as we look forward for him to be able to walk independently. It has also made his movement at home and school easier and he is also able to play better and enjoy his childhood just like any other child.
Please watch our You Tube video to experience the challenges, beauty and joy that is the Mary Rice Centre and its amazing students and staff – http:// youtu.be/N7EFsOY-dzs
GOOD NEWS STORY FROM MARY RICE CENTRE: AN OPPORTUNITY THAT SHED LIGHT TO GILLIAN’S FUTURE
What an inspiring day it was!
We felt motivated to keep on doing and even much better the little simple things we do at Mary Rice Centre that make a great difference to the children we serve.
On Monday the 17th of March, 2014 we got an opportunity to visit Gillian Amondi, one of the young adults who was at Mary Rice Center but has now moved to a vocational training center called Marianne school in Limuru. The main aim of the visit was to assess and evaluate what progress Gillian has made since she left Mary Rice Center.
Truly Disability is not Inability because, despite Gillian having challenges with hand functions and weakness of one side of the body, she is now able to make beautiful necklaces, bracelets, and earrings using beads and pearls. She can also make table mats, handbags and small purses using different beads and pieces of wood. In addition to this she also takes tailoring classes.
When asked if she is happy with her progress she responded positively and said she was so happy and confident that she is now able to make different beautiful items that she can sell and get money to buy herself shoes, clothes and even medication.
At the end of the day we learnt a very great lesson: that all you have to offer children and young adults who are differently abled is opportunity!
ESTHER NDUNG’U (Occupational Therapist at MRC)