CLOSING FOR THE HOLIDAY!

We have officially  closed today for the December holiday, we released all the children so as t go and prepare for the Christmas holiday,w did this in accordance to the government requirement that all school should be closed 14th of this months.IMG_4527IMG_4506

Despite the tragedy  that occurred at the centre the children were presented with a Christmas gift hen going back home.the centre will resume January 6th 2015.

SAD NEWS…ROBBERY

This is yet another bad moment for the centre in this term, this week on Tuesday night robbers broke in to the centre  and stole some of the most important things that help the centre to facilitate the centre activities on  daily basis . Some of the items were the office laptop, 4 ipad which were being used by the children to study, a printer, television and D.V.D machine which was used for entertainment for the children and music therapy,  Therapy equipment and 22 thousand Kenya shillings which was to be used for shopping for Christmas gift for the children among other things.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The matter was reported to he local police and was investigated so we are still waiting for their feedback.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Magic of Technology

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.

MRC iPads 1

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.

MRC iPad 2

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.

MRC iPad 3

A FIRE TRAGEDY

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One of our parents affectionately called ‘Mama Beryl’ was hit by a tragedy recently when her house was burned down completely by an outbreak of fire that started in their compound.  All her belongings were completely destroyed by the fire. When the fire started she was in the house with her children preparing for a shared supper when one of her children George saw the fire burning from the wall side of their bed and alerted his mother.Photo0467 Mama beryl quickly huddled her children around her and ran out of the house to shelter her children from the fire. After making sure everyone was safely out she called for help from the neighbours who were around. it is believed the fire started from one of her adjoining neighbours.  

Her house was the second in line to catch fire so she was unable to run in and save anything. Mama Beryl, a mother of nine is one of the parents of the Mary Rice Centre who has three children at the Centre who are differently abled. She has encountered different challenges as she is responsible for all her children’s basic needs. After the incident the family were left with just the clothes on their body and did not even have any foot wear with them. The incident left 20 families homeless including Mama Beryl and like her they did not save any possessions as the fire was severe and spread very quickly to other  houses in the Kibera slum.

THE SACRAMENT OF WEAKNESS or POWER? THE CHALLENGE

Last week a fifteen year old boy, a student at Mary Rice Centre for the disabled in Kibera, Peter Akoyo, died in his home from an epileptic seizure just the day after participating in the crazy Olympics with the other children. All visitors had noticed how he was a big brother to the smaller, more handicapped children and was always ready to attend to their toiletry needs. His dream to start a vocational training course tragically remained unfulfilled.

So what does the life of an intellectually disabled child have to tell us? What do we say about the significance of all the handicapped children at the Mary Rice Centre in Kibera run by Christian Brothers? What can we learn from the children who for years had remained hidden from view, perhaps because of the shame attached to parents or children or both, for suffering from a weakness inherited at birth?

 A quite remarkable Catholic man, John Vanier, who founded communities of ‘normal’ and  ‘disabled’ people living together says that even more than  having  compassion for the needy, we are called to enter into friendship.

Vanier and Edmund Rice, founder of the Christian Brothers and father of Mary Rice, insist that to love people is not first of all to do things for them but to reveal something to them. It is to reveal that they have a value, that they are beautiful and precious. This incredible spiritual insight suggests that we can only do this by first recognising the weakness and helplessness within ourselves.

In order to know our compassionate God, we learn how to be weak ourselves. Edmund and Vanier insist that it is the poor who can minister to us and help us to accept our poverty. Both tell us that we must necessarily move beyond the effort to “do good”, and move to a place of humility where we can allow the poor and disabled to do good to us.

They invite us to walk with the needy and especially the disabled as friends, as companions because we need them. We need them so that like Jesus we suffer the pain of others’ suffering and are moved to discover our reserves of compassion.  To live in our need of the ‘weak’ is to know deep communion with God and the world.

Edmund and Vanier remind us gently that it’s the people with disabilities who are changing the rest of us. In a gathering at of the disabled at Mary Rice Centre there is a presence of God, a gentleness, a peacefulness, a kindness. This is a little place in the kingdom of God. There’s joy. There’s happiness. There’s prayerfulness, as a group of visiting Australians found out, when one of the Mary Rice children anointed them and gave them a blessing, a moving experience indeed.

St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians says that those parts of the body that are the weakest and the least presentable are necessary to the body and should be honored. This means that we need people with disabilities to be the church. No one, poor or disabled, can remain separate. Pope Francis wants a poor church for the poor, a church that is bruised, hurting and dirty” because it is out on the streets.” Do you recognise that this was what Jesus of Nazareth was?!

Edmund Rice, a wealthy business man before founding the Brothers,was transformed by the weakness of his disabled child, Mary. He discovered reserves of compassion that led him to commit his life totally to the transformation of the deprived, abused street children of his day, to reveal their goodness to themselves. All of us live in a culture that believes we are transformed by power. And the tension between weakness and power is in us all.

So, where do you want to find the living Christ – in the weakness of the little ones, the poor, simple children, the intellectually disabled or the ever conflictual, power seeking political leaders? Where are you finding your way to the poor, vulnerable Jesus of Nazareth? What a paradoxical God- one found in weakness not power!  Does this image of God attract you?

by PETER COLE

Life shared with Peter Akoyo at Mary Rice Centre

It was with deep sadness that the Mary Rice Centre community learnt of the passing of much loved student Peter Akoyo. His earthly journey has ended suddenly and he has now embarked on the soul’s new journey which is the reality for every human being. .

Peter joined Mary Rice Centre in 2011 on the request of his father who in turn offered his services to the centre as a security guard under PADA security firm. Peter successfully went through assessments as required to determine his eligibility to benefit from the available centre’s services and was admitted.peter akoyo

Before joining the Centre he could experience frequent convulsions due to his epileptic condition. Through the dedicated effort of Ann Wanjugu (teacher), James Nayere (occupational therapist) and myself who was by then the centre’s coordinator, Peter was able to go through basic social skills training and to access medication which effectively helped manage his condition. After sometime at the centre, Peter began to demonstrate immense improvement in his interactive skills, self care activities and he developed a great sense of self confidence. This was a great joy for all involved in his care.

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Peter was a respectful, cheerful, receptive, industrious and friendly young man. His friendliness was clearly visible in the way he would welcome visitors, his fellow students as well staff to the centre. It is because of his hard work and ability to learn that the Mary Rice Centre under the new management of Gerald Mgalula managed to secure him a place at St Kizito Vocation Training Centre where until his passing he was undertaking carpentry training.

We are grieved, but consoled that Peter went to sleep that night because his body had served its purpose, his soul had done what it came to do, learned what it came to learn, and then was free to leave. May his soul rest in peace until we meet again in eternity.


His Journeys Just Begun

Don’t think of him as gone away his journey’s just begun, life holds so many facets this earth is only one.

Just think of him as resting from the sorrows and the tears in a place of warmth and comfort where there are no days and years.

Think how he must be wishing that we could know today

How nothing but our sadness can really pass away.

And think of him as living in the hearts of those he touched… for nothing loved is ever lost and he was loved so much.

John Paul Oluoch

FARE WELL THEE, PETER

It is with great sorrows that we announce the death of Peter Akoyo,  21 , who has been  a pupil at Mary Rice  Centre  for the last five years. Peter succumbed to an epileptic seizure on the night of August 8, 2014 at his father’s house in Shillanga village in Kibera slums, Nairobi.

Peter was present at the Centre on Wednesday when we closed for the August holiday; he appeared strong and healthy, with no sign of illness. During the day Peter stayed with the children at the Centre and engaged in the Crazy Olympic Games where he looked very vibrant and happy as he played with pupils, staff and parents.peter akoyo
Peter  suffered from epilepsy from birth, and he has been on drugs since then. When he joined the Centre, he used to get drugs from a nearby Health Centre which works closely with the Mary Rice Centre.

Peter was equally embraced and loved by both the pupils and staff who came to nickname him the “Big Brother” since he was the oldest pupil and was always ready to give a helping hand to other pupils who had more special needs than his.

Peter was accepted to join Marianne Vocational Centre for the Physically and Mentally Handicapped which is 50 kilometers from Nairobi.

Peter will be laid to rest in his ancestral home in Kakamega County, western Kenya later this month.

Eternal rest grant unto him oh Lord and may perpetual rest shine upon him. May the soul of Peter Akoyo rest in peace through the mercy of God, Amen.

 

KIBERA BLACK STARS

 

 

What a remarkable day it was, on Friday July 18 2014 when we were privileged to receive a group of young soccer players named the Kibera Black Stars. Their technical advisor had called previously and requested if his team would be allowed to visit our Centre and learn about what we do. Little did we know that there was more to the visit than that!

They really surprised us. Most visitors come to interact and play with our children and leave later in the day.

However in this case there was more to the visit than we expected!043

 

Just like in any normal setting, we started by an introduction which was led by the Chairman who introduced the Team Manager, the coach and the Captain of the team who took charge and introduced all the players. Following this the Mary Rice Centre Director with the help of the teacher introduced the staff and the children, and then explained to the team why Mary Rice exists and all the services we offer at the Centre to our children. After that the players sang songs for, and with the children and then closed the session with a prayer.

When we thought that we were finished they surprised us with yet some more gifts that they had bought for the children worth Kshs, 10,000. This surpassed our imagination after we saw all the things they presented to the children, they offered a bundle of maize flour and wheat flour, tissue papers, a bag of rice, juice, biscuits, sugars and fruits, all items we did not expect to see. The Centre and in particular the children were very happy for all they did that day, and the manner in which they interacted and played with our children and shared a great time together.

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We were very inspired by this little symbol of kindness we received from each young man who are dedicated to make a change in the society although they don’t earn or work. The parents were at the Centre on the day for a parents meeting and they felt challenged by this group of young men who came from the same slum as them but could afford to give back to the society the little they had. They learnt that regardless of where you come from or what you do, you can always find something to give. As the saying goes, “there is no one who is too poor to give, nor too rich to receive”.

A Ray of Hope

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 Muhanji

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.

Nicholas and Esther

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.

 

A VISIT BY THE ST VIRGIL’S COLLEGE, HOBART, PRINCIPAL

What a great honor and privilege it was to have the Principal of St Virgil’s College, Hobart, Australia, Mr Damian Messer visit our school.  Through his presence and interaction with our students and staff we felt connected to our supporters from St Virgil’s College. We felt encouraged, supported and motivated to continue doing what we are doing because we know that we are in the hearts, minds and prayers of the entire family of St Virgil’s.

During his speech, Mr Messer highlighted how the students and the staff ‘go the extra mile’ to raise funds to support the Mary Rice Centre to ensure it can provide support and programs to students and parents. This highlights how  privileged we are at Mary Rice to be part of the St Virgil’s family who continually strive to make sure we are well taken care of and always in their prayers.

The presence of the Principal made us feel greatly appreciated, as he had taken time from his busy schedule to come and visit us personally.??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Our gratitude is beyond measure for his generosity and the great support he and St Virgil’s College have shown to all at Mary Rice. Words alone cannot fully explain the joy and impact he brought to the Centre just by his visit – we can only say thank you (assante sana) for all the things he and the College have done for us.

The children were very happy and could not stop talking about the toys and gift they received on the day he was at the Centre. Their faces shine with gratitude every time they hold and play with the animal toys they received from Mr Messer (a special thank you to Mrs Denniss for her wonderful gift). They were also thrilled to receive their lovely loom band bracelets, made by the students of St Virgil’s – these fitted  beautifully on their small and tender hands. It was amazing how they could not stop smiling from the warm hugs Mr Messer shared with them. These smiles are fixed on their faces at the mention of Principal Damian’s name. This made them feel more loved, cared for and valued as this doesn’t happen often in their lives.???????????????????????????????

The staff and the children also appreciated the art work that was done by Grade 9 and 10 children with the supervision of their teacher Mrs Bridget Jenkins and Ms Claire Graham – we return our love and gratitude to Hobart and especially to Oliver, Zac, Tomi, Josh, Carl, Brandon, Will, Tom, Patrick, Sean, Alex, Hobart, Will, Patrick, Chris, Jayde, Solomon, Jordan, Andrew, Ryan, Bridget and Claire, Toby, Tom, Liam, Josh and Zac who put their effort and dedication to make this wonderful art work.