Sr. Theopista Nakamya Mbabazi, in the community of Nairobi South B, Kenya, shares her experience in the slums of Nairobi: in two encounters with women she shares how the transforming love of the Risen Lord called her to be humble and little in order to raise others up…
Clementine, from Rwanda, found herself in a stressful situation in Kenya after being tricked by a stranger. She was brought to Kenya in 2017 and she has three daughters: one she left in Rwanda, another she came with to Kenya and another she gave birth to while in Kenya. Clementine had been approached by someone in her village with the offer to take her to Kenya and marry her to a well-to-do man. She agreed and once in Kenya, she was taken to Nyeri (Othaya) and joined a man in a cohabitation relationship. The man spoke a foreign language which she did not understand. He was a security guard in someone’s home. In 2018, they had a daughter who was born in a local health center but was not taken for registration.
They survived on the man’s salary. In 2020, the man got sick and was taken to hospital leaving her behind. Clementine and her daughters were taken in by a lady who finally brought them to an orphanage in Dagorretti, South Nairobi County. In June, I visited this same home where another Rwandan person lives. I was informed that they have a Rwandese lady who doesn’t speak. I asked to see her and that is how I earned about Clementine’s story. They were in disbelief when they saw us talking. The issue of her not talking was because of the language barrier since she doesn’t understand Kiswahili. As she spoke to no-one, her melancholy deepened. I proposed to the owner of the home to take her from time to time so that she could meet other people. Whenever we spoke, her wish was the same: to go back home. Before coming to Kenya, she was farming her mother’s portion of the land and stayed in the house which she inherited from her mother.
To facilitate her repatriation, I involved Human Trafficking Trust-East Africa based in the Parish of Our Lady Queen of Peace in South B. Mr. Francis helped to find out if Clementine’s home was available. Through a Sister from Daughters of the Heart of Mary in Kigali, we could confirm that the home and the first-born daughter were there. But Clementine had no documents! Happily, the Rwandan embassy agreed to provide the travel documents for the woman and her two girls.
The big challenge was to find the means for their travel and the settlement at home. I shared the story with Sr. Jacqueline, the program manager of Religious against Human Trafficking based at Tumaini Center in Nairobi. There I was welcomed with open arms and I now have hope that the family will soon be relocated.
Another day in Kayore, where I go to meet our refugee brothers and sisters, I remember a morning that was heavy with many unsolved issues and I was feeling overwhelmed. Around midday I decided to take the narrow, winding road going up to the bus-stop to go back home. Then I heard a voice of a woman, Claudine, calling me full of sadness:
“Sister, please do not pass by; come and visit me…”
I will never forget the sadness in her voice! I turned and entered a small rented room which the woman calls her home. My eyes immediately saw a crippled child lying in a hidden shadowy corner of the room. As I was gazing at him, I saw the image of Jesus with no feet, no hands and I felt an inner voice whispering to me, the risen Jesus calling me to follow him and to bring hope to those in despair. This energized me to come out of myself and hold this tiny body in my arms, to feel this body with helpless hands and tiny legs which could not support him, struggling to breathe.
The woman had run away from her country due to the war. She was pregnant, gave birth in the forest where she had no one to help her. She had no cloth to cover the baby. When they left that forest the baby was deformed and almost dying.
When they reached Kenya as refugees, their security was assured, but the health of the child was becoming worse every day. When I encountered this family, the mother was ready to let the child die and just continue to care for her 3 other ones. Her husband had died in the forest. With other helpers, it was decided to take Claudine and Jack to the Missionaries of the Poor Children’s Home. The mother agreed and said: “Let Jack go where he will find life because if he stays here with me, I only see his grave…”.
After three months in the center Jack was another child! He had recovered so well. The mother joined the group of mothers among the refugee women called “Dove of Peace”. The members gather for group counseling, they listen and support one another in difficult moments, and give each other hope for the future. In fact, their motto is
“there is good life in the future … let us strive for it.”
In these two experiences, I feel a call deep within me to reach out and bring hope to those who are hopeless in our world today. Christ knows how to minister to others perfectly. When the Savior stretches out His hands, those He touches are uplifted and become stronger and better people.
Lending my hands and feet to the Risen Lord, he works through me and within me too.