Monday, 30 June 2008

CISA SPECIAL FEATURE: Comrade Bob is a Despot from Hell!

By Purity Kiogora
On Friday, Zimbabwe went ahead with a sham presidential run-off election in which President Robert Mugabe, now a global outcast, was the only candidate. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was forced out of the race by a carefully choreographed orgy of state terror.A group of Zimbabweans visiting Kenya recently recounted to CISA the wanton state violence unleashed by the Mugabe regime on opposition leaders, human rights activists, journalists and supporters of Tsvangirai.Silas Gwese of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) contested the March 29 parliamentary election and lost. Since then, he has witnessed political violence against his family and in his constituency.“I lost the parliamentary election to my surprise. Since then ZANU-PF militia have been hunting for me. They came to my house looking for me but luckily my family and I were out. I had been warned that they wanted me dead or alive and so I left before they came.”The state hoodlums petrol-bombed the politician’s house and he lost all personal belongings. “Up to now I am on the run. Four of my councilors’ houses were also burnt down as well. Some councilors are in hiding and others were forced to ‘repent’ and join ZANU-PF.”Members of Gwese’s family were not spared either. “I rescued my father, who is 78 years old, together with my cousins who had been beaten and left for dead because I support the opposition.”Ahead of the run-off, Mugabe deployed militiamen and the army in the rural areas to intimidate people to vote for him. As a result, over 30,000 people were displaced, said Gordom Moyo, director of Bulawayo Agenda. “The whole idea is for Mugabe to win the run off. He is not prepared to hand over power to anyone who is not ZANU-PF. He is not ready to let the people of Zimbabwe vote their own choice.”Moyo pointed out that Mugabe had launched war against his own people, an bservation shared by Takura Zhangazha, national director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) in Zimbabwe. “There is extreme political violence in the country in pursuit of reversal of the people’s verdict.”The regime is rabidly against independent media, having crippled all media outlets except the state-owned ones. Zhangazha said seven journalists who were deemed to be sympathetic towards the opposition or civil society groups were suspended from the state broadcaster.MISA officials have witnessed the suffering of many innocent people around the country. “We have visited tortured people in hospitals and seen their trauma, but we have also witnessed their determination to vote against the government,” Zhangazha said.As part of the plot to disenfranchise the people, the government stopped the opposition from campaigning and civil societies from assemblies. International media cannot access Zimbabwe.Maureen Kademaunga of Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) was arrested for organizing a meeting. She was denied food and access to a lawyer during her incarceration. Kademaunga was later released without charge.“This is what they do all the time they arrest people without charge. They distract your meetings and make sure you do not go on with your business. They also question journalists and civil society groups as they arrive at the international airport all the time because they are worried that the situation on the ground will be reported to the world.”Freelance journalist Frank Chikowore has been arrested on several occasions in connection with his work despite being accredited by the government. In the latest episode, Chikowore was held for 17 days.“For the first seven days I was not given access to food and water. Thereafter I was confined to remand prison with hardcore criminals. I was accused of rigging elections in favor of the opposition leader Morgan Tsvingirai.”Why does Mugabe want to rule over Zimbabweans against their will? Does he think he owns them?

KENYA: Army Could Miss UN Peace Work over Torture Claims

NAIROBI, June 27, 2008 (CISA) -The Kenyan army could be excluded from future UN peacekeeping operations for alleged human rights violations.The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, has received a report from the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) accusing the army of torture and ill-treatment of civilians in the ongoing operation against the rebel Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) in Mount Elgon region to the west of the country.In a letter to KNCHR, Arbour said “anyone suspected of or found to have been involved in torture or other serious human rights violations should be excluded from participation in UN PKO [peacekeeping operations].”She requested more information on senior military, police and officials that are suspected or were found to have been involved in torture or other serious human rights abuses following the March 2008 deployment of the Kenyan Army in Mt Elgon.Local media and human rights groups have repeatedly reported claims of torture by the army in Mt Elgon. However, the military has rejected torturing civilians.Defence spokesman, Bogita Ongeri, said this week that “no professional military would be interested in torturing anybody, while their objective is to win the hearts and minds of the populace in the area of operation under the principle of ‘minimum force to own citizens’ which the military is trained to practice during aid to civil authority operations.”Ongeri said that so far 3,779 suspected SLDF militiamen had been arrested, out of which 1,162 were been brought by the local people themselves to the security forces. A total of 843 had been identified positively as SLDF militiamen and 758 had been arraigned in court.“The call for immediate withdrawal of the military by some human rights organizations and political activists without complete purge of SLDF criminals would mean that the people of Mt Elgon are left to suffer as vengeance against those who have voluntarily brought the criminals to the security forces would be the order of the day,” the army spokesman said.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

KENYA: Catholic-Supported Children’s Home Receives Donations

EMBU, June 19, 2008 (CISA) -A rehabilitation centre supported by Catholic Diocese of Embu in Eastern Kenya received wheelchairs and food supplies worth Ksh 64,000 from well wishers on Wednesday.Kenya Electricity Generating Company (Kengen) operations manager, Joel Ngugi, presented six wheelchairs, six bags of maize and cooking oil to Ngiori Community Rehabilitation Home. The centre for the physically handicapped children is in Mbeere District.The home has 20 children and is run by the local community. It was started in 1995 and is supported by the Catholic Diocese of Embu.“The major challenge the home faces is lack of safe drinking water and the cost of day to day running,” said Peter Mbogo, director of Kamurugu Agricultural Development Initiatives, a project of the diocese.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

ZIMBABWE: Rights Groups Appeal for World Intervention in Crisis

NAIROBI, June 17, 2008 (CISA) -Zimbabwean civil society activists visiting Kenya appealed to Africa and the rest of the world to pressure President Robert Mugabe to end the people’s suffering in the southern African nation.The world should demand that Mugabe allows humanitarian agencies to distribute food aid in the country that is facing mass starvation and gross human rights violations, the activists said.They said Mugabe has set up structures of violence, comprising war veterans, the army and militias to coerce people especially in rural areas to vote for him in the presidential run-off on June 27.The activists were from Bulawayo Agenda, the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter, Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, Youth for Democracy, Zimbabwe Peace Trust, the Zimbabwean newspaper ‘The Independent’ and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).The representatives said that Mugabe has stopped all volunteer organisations in the country from working and his government was giving food aid only to its supporters.Gordon Moyo, executive director of Bulawayo Agenda, said, “What brings us here today are the current developments in our country. We would like Mugabe to respect the laws of the country, to respect the principles of running elections as quantified in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) guidelines.”Africa should demand for free and fair elections, which are unlikely if the current state violence and violation of human rights continues.“We are going around Africa attending the AU summit; we are lobbying the leadership in SADC and in the continent as a whole to protect Zimbabwe. The AU has a moral obligation to protect the people who are harmless and defenceless,” Moyo said.If Mugabe declared himself a winner the run-off, Africa should condemn him and bar him from travelling outside Zimbabwe, Moyo said.The activists said some 4 million Zimbabweans are in desperate need of food.Frank Chikowore, a journalist detained for 17 days in deplorable conditions, said there was a serious assault on media freedom and appealed to African leaders to demand freedom of the Press in Zimbabwe.African and world leaders should hold Mugabe accountable for the “slow-motion genocide” he is committing, said Maureen Kademaunga of the Media Monitoring Project-Zimbabwe. Mugabe is using young people to inflict fear, torture people and destroy property.Many people have lost their documents and are unlikely to vote, Kademanunga,who was recently detained for holding a meeting, said.Silas Gweshe, an MDC parliamentary candidate who lost in the March 29 elections, said the houses of four councillors who supported him were burnt down. He lost all personal property and is on the run.

Monday, 16 June 2008

KENYA: Catholic Nuns Prepare for their Centenary Jubilee

NAIROBI, June 13, 2008 (CISA) -Consolata Missionary Sisters have began preparing for their centennial jubilee in 2010.The sisters have organized three pilgrimages in honour of Our Lady Consolata, or the Blessed Virgin Mary, in different parts of the country.Sr. Luiza Elvera, the administrator of Consolata Sisters Regional House in Nairobi, said the first pilgrimage will take place on June 22 from 8.30 am, starting at St Paul’s University Chapel compound to Consolata Shrine Parish Westlands.The second pilgrimage will take place next year in Meru Diocese and the last in Marsabit diocese. “The pilgrimages are a part of a journey towards our centenary jubilee in 2010, marking 100 years of our foundation,” Sr Elvera said.Prior to the first pilgrimage the sisters will hold special evening prayers for nine days. Anybody wishing to attend the prayers is welcome.There are and 22 professed Kenyan Consolata sisters and two novices. Consolata Missionary Sisters were founded by Blessed Joseph Allamano in 1910 in Italy. They arrived in Kenya in 1911. They also work in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, USA, Switzerland, Spain, UK, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina.

KENYA: ‘Forgotten’ IDPs Near Nairobi Cry Out for Help

NAIROBI, June 13, 2008 (CISA) -Landlords are taking advantage of the plight of persons displaced persons who fled the post-election violence in the Rift Valley Province and are now living at Waithaka shopping centre outside Nairobi.The landlords have nearly doubled house rent. “From last month we have been asked to pay Sh.1,500. Honestly we do not have the money,” Francis Mwangi told CISA.Mwangi who lived in Kuresoi, Molo, said the landlords increased the rent after they learned that a well-wisher had given some IDPs Sh. 6,000.About 350 IDPs are camping at the District Officer’s compound in Waithaka and others are living in rented houses. Those in the camp complained of lack of adequate food and water.The chief of Waithaka Location, Geoffrey Moni, said the IDPs are appealing to well-wishers to send them. Humanitarian organisations seem to have forgotten the people at Waithaka, he said..It has been almost two months since they last received any food donations. This week they got clothes and toys for children from Cyprus brought by Archbishop Makarios of the Orthodox Church in Nairobi.None of the IDPs living in Waithaka has returned home since late December last year.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

AFRICA: Congress Sees Need for Pastoral Care of Migrants NAIROBI,

June 6, 2008 (CISA) -A declaration is being prepared calling on the Catholic Church in Africa to lay greater emphasis on providing adequate pastoral care to refugees and migrants.Closing a pan-African congress in the Kenyan capital on Thursday, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said the declaration will summarize the reflections, findings and recommendations of the congress.The document, dubbed ‘The Nairobi Appeal’, will seek concerted international and national efforts among the Church hierarchy and lay faithful. Pastoral care of refugees and migrants should include healing and counseling for those who suffer due to displacement.There are 26 million migrants in the world, a third of them from Africa. Sudan leads with more than 5 million.A major problem limiting the Church’s response to the plight of migrants is lack of funds, said the archbishop, who also suggested frequent meetings to find ways and means to address the issue.Archbishop Marchetto also urged African bishops to seek international help in on behalf of displaced people.Some of the participants at the congress visited a camp for the Internally Displaced Persons at Waithaka near Nairobi, led by the Archbishop Boniface Lele, Chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference Commission for the Refugees, Migrants and Seafarers.Waithaka District Officer Cornelius Wamalwa told the congress participants that there were 350 IDPs at the camp and that other people displaced from the Rift Valley region now lived in the area. Wamalwa said that the IDPs were thrown out of their houses and efforts to return them have failed.“We are going to request the Prime Minister Raila Odinga to address the issue,” Wamalwa said. He said the government was planning to evict those that grabbed property and houses owned by displaced people. Archbishop Lele said the Catholic Church will follow up the matter with the government.

KENYA: Helpline 116 for Children in Distress is Launched NAIROBI,

June 3, 2008 (CISA) -In a new initiative to improve protection of the rights of children, the government has launched a toll free helpline, 116.The 24-hour hotline offers help to children in distress and caregivers. It also provides information and a variety of referral services such as medical care, legal aid, shelter and rescue services.The Minister for Gender and Children Affairs, Esther Murugi launched the helpline on Saturday at Kabete Rehabilitation School. The number will be launched in all the provinces of Kenya.“I urge all children and adults to report cases of child abuse to the police, children officers and provincial administration to offer protection and entrench a culture of child rights in Kenya,” the minister said.The minister also called upon interested organizations to liaise with the Department of Children’s Services to ensure better protection of children.“Statistics from both government sources and civil societies are quite alarming. It is unfortunate that children continue to suffer in the hands of the very people charged with the responsibility of protecting them within the family, school and the community. The abuses range from child neglect, child labour, trafficking, sexual and physical violence among others,” Murugi said.“The family as well as the general public needs to be supported and empowered to understand and participate in all matters that guarantee child protection, survival, development and participation.”Irene Nyamu, national coordinator for Child Line Kenya, said there was increase in abuse cases around the country. She said in April her organisation received 16,200 test calls on 116, some 6,000 of which were about serious cases. In May, 6,700 calls were received at the Kabete Call Center.The director of Children’s Services, Ahmed Hussein, said soon the number 116 will be accessible via internet, wireless telephone and radio.The helpline is a joint initiative of the Department of Children’s Services, Child Line Kenya and a network of other partners.

KENYA: Vatican Forum to Study Care of Refugees and Migrants NAIROBI,

May 30, 2008 (CISA) -The Holy See has organised a pan-African conference on pastoral care of refugees and migrants, which will open here next week.The 3-day event is titled, ‘Towards better pastoral care of Migrants and Refugees in Africa at the dawn of the Third Millenium.’ It will take place at the Resurrection Garden retreat centre from June 3-5.The conference will be attended by representatives from over 20 African nations, including bishops and pastoral care workers. It will be an opportunity for listening, reflection, and dialogue in order to find new means for pastoral activity uniquely designed for the millions of migrants and refugees of Africa.A program published by Fides news agency includes opening addresses by the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya, Archbishop Lain Paul Lebeaupin, and the Archbishop of Nairobi, Cardinal John Njue.Key speakers include Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Secretary of the dicastery, who will speak on the importance of attention to the new pastoral itineraries in the area of service to refugees and victims of human trafficking. Msgr. Novatus Rugambwa, undersecretary, will reflect on the new forms of slavery in connection with migration.Dr. Johan Ketelers, Secretary General of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), will present the general situation of migrants, refugees, and internally displaced persons in Africa.Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, Archbishop of Cape Coast (Ghana), will reflect on the dialogue being carried out in the migration field between the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar and the Council of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE).Later in the congress, there will be two round-table discussions focusing on the pastoral experiences in favor of migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons, and victims of human trafficking, led by various pastoral care workers from several African nations, coordinated by His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria for Copts (Egypt) and Archbishop Robert C. Ndlovu of Harare (Zimbabwe).The study sessions will be held twice and the reflections and suggestions that emerge over the course of the workshops and debates will be published in the conclusions and recommendations of the final document issued at its close.

KENYA: Pilgrims Undertake Peace Building Journey to Ugandan Shrine NAIROBI,

May 27, 2008 (CISA) -Over 30 Christians are on a pilgrimage to the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine in Uganda as one of the peace building activities initiated by the Catholic Church here.Cardinal John Njue flagged off the 33 pilgrims on Saturday at the Holy Family Basilica. He prayed for them and sent them off with three doves.The 13-day pilgrimage, dubbed ‘Peace Pilgrimage’, is one of a series of national peace building activities lined up by the Kenya Catholic Episcopal Conference in the aftermath of the post-election violence.The pilgrims were drawn from slums and parishes which were hardest hit by the crisis.Japheth Oluoch, a secretary of the Channels of Peace initiative, said the pilgrims will walk 20 kilometers daily, and will cover 200 kilometers “as a living remembrance of the pain of lack of peace and how expensive it is to get peace back after we allow it to slip out of our hands.”The significance of the pilgrimage, Oluoch said, is to pass on the message of love, peace and reconciliation to those afflicted by the post-election violence. Pilgrims will have moments of reflections with different parishes and dioceses. They will also visit Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps en route.Cornelia Nafula, a pilgrim, said that she was happy to be on the pilgrimage as she felt the need for repentance for all the lives lost during the post-election violence.The Post-Election Peace Initiative under the stewardship of Archbishop Peter Kairo, chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission. It has six committees spearheading different initiatives: Youth United for Peace in Kenya, Counselling and Liturgy, Symposium, Mass Media, Channels of Peace, and Truth and Justice Committee.

KENYA: Catholic Church Rolls out National Healing Programmed NAIROBI,

May 20, 2008 (CISA) -The Catholic Church has announced a six-month pastoral healing programme to promote sustainable peace and justice countrywide in the aftermath of the post-election violence.The chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference Commission for Justice and Peace Archbishop Peter Kairo unveiled the programme at a news conference on Tuesday.In the first of the activities, 48 Kenyans will lead a pilgrimage to Namugongo Shrine in from May 24 to June 5. The pilgrimage will be flagged off by at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi on Saturday at 8.00 am by Cardinal John Njue.“This is a healing and thanksgiving pilgrimage passing through places which were hardest hit by the post-election violence,” Archbishop Kairo said. The pilgrims will pass Limuru, Naivahsa, Nakuru, Molo, Kisumu, Eldoret, Kakamega, Mt. Elgon and Mulanda refugee camp in Uganda. The pilgrims will pray and preach peach at camps for the internally displaced persons.The second activity is distribution of some 1,500 peace flags and 20,000 prayer leaflets throughout parishes. The peace flags will be hoisted at parishes. The cards bear the peace prayer of St Francis of Assisi.In the third activity, some 30 people (clergy, politicians, youth, women) will take five days to climb Mount Kenya. The team will plant a cross a peace flag and the national flag atop the mountain.A football tournament to promote peace will be held at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani on June 14 as part of the national healing programme.The fifth activity is distribution of booklets on Christian values, such as love, compassion, conscience, justice life, peace and other themes connected to the Second African Synod in October 2009.The programme also proposes that some streets, roads, buildings, town squares around the country be renamed and dedicated to peace.A 3-day national symposium on peace and reconciliation will be held at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa from May 29 to 30.The programma also proposes building of peace and justice houses in the areas most hit by the post-election chaos.A one-year youth programme on politics and civic education in various parishes is proposed. It will be a long-term project to prepare the youth for leadership.Archbishop Kairo called on all Catholics and people of good will to support the various initiatives.

KENYA: Retired Archbishop Heads 500 Million-Dollar Refugee Fund NAIROBI,

May 13, 2008 (CISA) -President Mwai Kibaki on Monday launched a multimillion-dollar fund for resettlement of displaced persons, to be chaired by the retired Catholic Archbishop of Nairobi, Raphael Ndingi Mwana a’ Nzeki.The ongoing resettlement of people displaced by the post-election violence will cost the government about USD 500 million. Launching the kitty, the president led a two-hour funds drive at which USD 7.5 million was collected.President Kibaki urged all Kenyans “to help those who are now in great need by supporting this fundraising. I also appeal to our international friends to support these efforts.”He also called upon communities in the areas affected by violence to demonstrate goodwill by welcoming the displaced persons who are now returning to their farms.“In particular, I call upon leaders countrywide to play an active role in promoting peace within the district peace and reconciliation committees. I would like to appeal to all leaders and Kenyans in general to be patient and to maintain peace, law and order as we work out long-term solutions to the underlying challenges to the problems facing us,” the president said.Kibaki said that the urgent challenge for the government is to restore food production activities by ensuring that those who were displaced from their homes and farms can begin to rebuild their lives, and become productive members of their communities and the nation.Early this year the government launched a fund known as the Humanitarian Fund for Mitigation of Effects and Resettlement of Victims of Post-2007 Election Violence and donated Kshs one billion.The Chief Communication Officer in the Office of Public Communications, Hamisi Chumo, told CISA that people wishing to make donations by cheque or in cash to the Central Bank of Kenya in favour of the Humanitarian Fund, should get more information from: Ministry of Special Programmes, Tel: +254 020 2215245 or Office of Public Communications Tel: +254-020-240488, +254-020-2223521

KENYA: Survey Finds Secret Polygamy on the Rise, But Catholics Differ NAIROBI,

May 9, 2008 (CISA) -Formal and informal polygamy remains widespread in Kenya, according to a recent survey, but Catholic lay leaders said sacramental marriage was still intact in the mostly Christian nation.A quarter of the married men are either openly polygamous or have a secret “wife”, the survey by the country’s leading daily, Nation, found.In a face-to-face poll of 2,097 Kenyans who are 18 years and older in eight major towns, 72.4 percent of married respondents characterised their marriage as monogamous, while 20.8 percent said theirs were polygamous. Another 3.8 percent said theirs were informal “come-we-stay” arrangements.More than a third of the respondents approved of polygamy, with some 45.4 percent of the men supporting the practice than did women, at 32 percent.Of the married respondents, 27 percent said they were in a secret relationship with a person other than their spouse.It is common in Kenya for a woman or two (other than the known wife) to turn up to claim inheritance when a man, especially a wealthy one, dies.The national coordinating couple of the Catholic lay group Marriage Encounter, George and Salome Mwangi, said there was no cause for alarm that Christian marriage is in danger.Mr Mwangi, however, noted that there is some truth in the survey. He blamed the problem on moral decline. “Western culture has come with a lot of immorality which has encouraged promiscuity, particularly in the urban areas.”Francis Muroki, who writes on the family for the national Catholic monthly, The Seed, dismissed the findings of the survey. “That report is purely a hoax. It is not practical. People are too busy and don’t have time and energy to keep a secret “wife” or girlfriend.”Times have changed and men could no longer afford a second wife. “When you keep a mistress or concubine that is not marriage,” Muroki added.The Marriage Encounter coordinator for Ngong Diocese, Francis Ndolo, agreed that the survey findings were an exaggeration.Teresa Adhiambo, coordinator of Family Life Department in the Archdiocese of Kisumu, said that polygamy in the western region had dropped due to the spread of Christianity.Kevin Otieno, HIV/ADIS coordinator at the Kenya Catholic Secretariat said polygamy was on the rise mostly in urban areas where sometimes a man lives away from his wife. He also cited the spread of modernity which brings along with it denigration of religious values and immorality. “A Christian marriage should be between one man and one wife.”Retired Presbyterian cleric Timothy Njoya told Nation: “All polygamy is flawed masculinity where men think that women are less human and that one woman cannot be enough.”

KENYA: State Seeks 500 Million Dollars to Help Internal Refugees NAIROBI,

May 9, 2008 (CISA) -The government will on Monday launch a fundraising campaign for nearly 500 million US dollars for the resettlement and support of persons displaced by the post-election violence.The government invited all Kenyans and other well wishers to support the fund. “Private companies, all leaders and other well-wishers are requested to support the fund so that our brothers and sisters can be relocated back to their homes,” a spokesman, Dr Alfred Mutua, said.Thousands of displaced people on Monday began their journey back home in military trucks and buses, amid confusion and uncertainty. The programme, dubbed ‘Operation Rudi Nyumbani’ (return home), began in the Rift Valley Province.A total of 59,784 IDPs from different farms were resettled this week, and 70, 000 are still in camps and will soon be resettled, the government announced Thursday.Some IDPs were reluctant to return home despite government assurances that security had been boosted. Police said they will ensure returnees were adequately protected.

KENYA: Catholic Prison Workers Say Warders’ Grievances Real NAIROBI,

April 29, 2008 (CISA) -While some efforts have been made to improve living conditions for prisoners, the people who care for them have been neglected by the state, Catholic prisons personnel said.Prison warders around the country have been on strike since last week demanding better pay and working conditions. Media pictures showed crumbling shacks in which the warders live with their families as well as broken-down sanitation facilities.Daniel, a married man who quit as a warder after 20 years, told the Nation newspaper of life at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in Nairobi. “I lived in a hall that had been converted into a residential house and partitioned with curtains, with each warder being allocated a single room. Life was very difficult since there was no privacy in the house. As a result, our unmarried colleagues were always fighting over women.”The national Catholic chaplain Fr Peter Kimani confirmed to CISA that the grievances raised by prison warders are genuine.The government declared the strike a mutiny and arrested some senior warders who have been charged in court. But the state has offered the warders a new risk allowance and compensation for their work in quelling the post-election violence.Brother Linus Schoutsen, director of Fr Grol’s Welfare Projects which runs a prisons apostolate, described the warders’ situation as really bad. “They have a real reason to strike.” Many of the warders are hardworking people in spite of poor remuneration and deplorable working conditions, he said.Br Schoutsen pointed out that prisons around the country make a lot of money from various income generating activities such as farming and carpentry. But the government takes away all the money instead of using it to better the welfare of the workers.Consolata missionary Fr Eugene Ferrari who is the chaplain at Kamiti said: “The conditions in which the warders live are very poor and inhuman. You find two or three families living in one room with only a sheet as partitioning.”For fear of having their belongings stolen, warders sharing rooms have to lock up everything they own before they leave for duty. Fr Ferrari said he had once brought the issue to the attention of the Ministry of Home Affairs, which deals with prisons.

KENYA: Church Leaders Study How to Fight HIV/AIDS Stigma LIMURU,

April 22, 2008 (CISA) -Some 60 Church leaders began a national workshop here today to address the issue of stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS.The workshop at Jumuia Conference and Country Home is organised by the National Council of Churches (NCCK) and the global charity Christian Aid. It ends Friday.Canon Gideon Byamugisha, a Ugandan pastor who was the first African clergyman to publicly declare his HIV-positive status, is facilitating the workshop.“The national workshop aims at building the capacity of the executive church leaders to change their attitudes towards HIV and AIDS, and thereafter give leadership to campaigns against stigma and discrimination. They will also be enabled to upgrade and where necessary, initiate HIV and AIDS response initiatives,” NCCK Deputy General Secretary, Oliver Kisaka, said in a statement.Other than church leaders drawn from the NCCK membership, other participants in the workshop are representatives from Kenerela (Kenya Network of Religious Leaders Living With or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS).Kenya has a prevalence rate of 5.1 percent, with over a million Kenyans living with HIV/AIDS. More than 55,000 persons are newly infected every year. It is estimated that more than 10 million people are directly or indirectly affected by the epidemic.Stigma kills when it prevents people from identifying the illness and freely seeking treatment, NCCK noted. Within the Church, the impression remains that HIV/AIDS is an affliction for the sexually immoral.

AFRICA: Anglican Women to Publish Prayer Book on Millennium Goals NEW YORK,

April 18, 2008 (CISA) -Anglican women and girls are uniting to make their voices heard on issues of poverty and empowerment by contributing to a new book of women’s prayers.They also want to express the power and depth of their faith and to reveal their connections across cultural and economic differences.The book will have a new collection of prayers, with multicultural global reach and will be organized according to themes of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The prayers will also show the connections between the global concerns of women and girls and their personal lives.Rev. Margaret Rose, director of the Episcopal Church's Center for Mission Leadership and one of the new book’s editors said, “With this new book, we will intentionally seek the voice of women and girls worldwide as they pray their experiences of global concerns.”The new book, the editors say, will reveal how Anglican women are envisioning a way forward for the welfare of creation, including within the Anglican Communion itself. “At a time when a small cabal of male leaders are insisting on dividing the Anglican Communion over issues of human sexuality, Anglican women are offering a way forward,” said Dr. Jenny Te Paa, one of the editors.The editors say this book will also show how nurturing an inner life of prayer can give women and girls the courage to care and advocate not just for themselves, but also for their sisters throughout the Anglican Communion.“The prayers will reflect and reveal the very difficult realities for women and girls today, yet also proclaim a vision.” Editor Rev Jeanne Person explained. “The women and girls who submit prayers will be speaking truth, but with love, hope and commitment to change.”Currently, the editors are partnering with networks of Anglican women worldwide to extend the invitation for prayer submissions. According to the editors, the new book will debut in May 2009.The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2008. Submissions may be made by email to>

KENYA: ‘Ambassadors of Peace’ to Launch National Healing Initiative NAIROBI,

April 18, 2008 (CISA) -A national faith-based peace building initiative to promote healing and reconciliation will be inaugurated on Saturday Ambassadors of Peace Initiative will be launched at St. John’s Catholic Church Korogocho, Nairobi, starting 9 am by Archbishop Emeritus Ndingi Mwana a’ Nzeki, Retired Presbyterian pastor Rev. Timothy Njoya, Sheik Abdi Addullahi and former nominated MP Njoki Ndungu.The initiative seeks to encourage peace building, healing and reconciliation among communities that have been affected directly or indirectly by the post-election violence. It also aims to rebuild diverse communities and rekindle a sense of nationalism.The project is an initiative of Jesuit Hakimani Centre in Nairobi in collaboration with the Kenya Episcopal Conference, CAFOD and the Jesuit Eastern Africa Province.A statement from Hakimani director, Fr Elias Omondi S.J., said Ambassadors for Peace Initiative will work with national leaders in every part of Kenya, with particular emphasis in the areas worst-hit by the post-election violence: Nairobi, Nakuru, Kericho, Kitale, Eldoret, Kisumu and Kisii.Ambassadors of peace will visit target areas and interact with local leaders. During those sessions, they will emphasize the quest for peace whilst providing a public forum where people could reframe the future and deliberate on activities that can bring all members of the community together.Hakimani will provide relevant guideline materials for reflection and personal transformation. Once the local lead groups have a working understanding of the process (founded on inward looking, tolerance, respect for diversity and a personal call for shaping the future) participants will be encouraged to form communities of dialogue.“It is envisioned that these communities of dialogue will keep the discussions alive and continue to design community initiatives that aim at peace and nation building,” Fr Omondi said.

KENYA: Focolare Movement Holds Memorial Mass for Late Founder NAIROBI,

April 11, 2008 (CISA) -Members of the Focolare Movement today celebrated the life of Chiara Lubich, their foundress who died last month.The Mass at Consolata Shrine, Nairobi, was concelebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Paul Alain Leaubapin, Bishop Salesius Mugambi of Meru and Bishop David Kamau of Nairobi.The nuncio described Lubich as a messenger who gave her life for the word of God. “Lubich has been like a mother who showed anew the personal and deep link of aiming at sanctity.”According to the Focolare, Lubich represents the witness of a great charisma in the life of the Church the charisma of unity given to her by the Holy Spirit and for which she was the faithful witness and caretaker.Lubich was born in Trent, Italy in January 1920. At the age of 23 she consecrated her life to God. This marked the birth and development of the Focolare which started during the Second World War and spread fast. Today the movement is present in 182 countries with 141,400 members. The ‘Focolari’, which are local points of reference for activities of this movement consist of little communities of consecrated and laymen or women, committed to maintain the presence of Christ. In Africa, there are three little towns of the Focolare, one in Cameroon, Ivory Coast and in Kenya. They also have communities in Tanzania, Uganda, and Burundi. Their projects in Philippines and Brazil are aimed at building unity and brotherhood.The Focolare Movement has a world wide editorial activity with printing presses in 31 countries. Their New City magazine is published in 37 editions with thousands of copies in 22 languages.

KENYA: Catholic Missionary Brother Killed by Unknown Assailants

-An elderly Mill Hill Missionary brother was killed by unknown people on Wednesday night in Lamu Parish, in the Archdiocese of Mombasa at the Indian ocean coast.Fr Francis Schouten, the parish priest of Lamu told CISA investigations were going on to establish how Brother Brian Thorp, 77, died.He was found dead outside his room by the housekeeper in Lamu Thursday morning, apparently the victim of an armed robbery.Brian was born on 30th January 1931, at Yorkshire Bridge in Bamford, Derbyshire, England, the fourth of five sons of Clement and Mary Thorp. He attended St Michael’s Primary School at Hathersage, Derbyshire, but left school when he was 14 to work as an apprentice carpenter until he was 21.He then went on to do two years of national service with the Royal Air Force as an administration orderly. He spent the next four years working in construction sites around the country. When his parents retired in 1958, he went with them to live and work in Brighton.After the death of his youngest brother in 1967, Brian decided to spend a year to reflect on his future. It was in 1968 when he decided to join the Brothers Programme of the Mill Hill Missionaries. He took his Temporary Oath on 29th,June 1970, and his Perpetual Oath on 29th June, 1972 at Courtfield.Brother Thorp’s first appointment was to Basankusu, DR Congo. He arrived there in April 1973 and embarked on many building projects until he was withdrawn on 14th June, 1976 and appointed to the British Region.His next missionary appointment was to Kenya and he arrived in Kisumu in February 1982. He left temporarily for Jinja, Uganda in July 1991. He eventually returned to Kenya in September 1993 to work in Bungoma Diocese. He was a Chapter Delegate in 1994. On 13th October, 1997, Brother Thorp was appointed to the Mill Hill House in Jinja, Uganda. In 1999, he returned to Kenya, and was appointed to Lamu Island where he renovated the parish buildings.

KENYA: Catholic Church Launches National Version of Catechism NAIROBI,

April 4, 2008 (CISA) -A Catholic catechism for Kenya was launched on Wednesday by Cardinal John Njue, chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference (KEC).At a ceremony attended by all bishops, at St Thomas Aquinas Seminary, Cardinal Njue described the launch as a “historic moment” in the country’s evangelization. Work on the catechism was commissioned by KEC five years ago. The book is published by Paulines Publications Africa.“This event is a fulfillment of that desire by Pope John Paul II that local catechisms be written to take into account the various situations, with the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’ as the reference point. This is the light in which the development of ‘A Catholic Catechism’ by the Kenyan bishops should be read,” Njue said.This Catechism is aimed at deepening understanding of the faith among Kenyan Catholics. “It has been a long cherished desire of KEC to bring home to our people this precious gift,” the cardinal said. “‘A Catholic Catechism’ not only presents faithfully the teaching of the sacred scripture but also lays special emphasis on the African context in which the faith is lived. It acknowledges the need for our people to identify with Christian faith despite their various cultural backgrounds.”This involves using whatever is beautiful in traditional cultures to deepen expression of the faith, while abandoning beliefs and practices that are contrary to the faith. The catechism, Njue said, will help in formulation of faith formation programs in schools and other institutions, adding that the local version of the catechism was among the first of its kind in the world, and should make the Catholic Church in Kenya proud.Sr Teresa Marcazzan of Paulines Publications Africa said it was the result of concerted efforts of theologians, pastors and catechists and is not only a positive step towards the celebration of the Second African Synod, but it will also assist Christian communities in proclaiming afresh the Gospel message, both in Kenya and in the English-speaking Countries of Africa. The many references to the African culture and context, as well as its simple, yet clear language, make this Catechism a real asset and a tool that will certainly shape catechesis and evangelization for years to come.Fr. Vincenzo Salemi, general editor and coordinator of the project, said that translations in Kiswahili, Kikuyu and Turkana will be available

AFRICA: Women Key to Millennium Development Goals, Says Migiro NEW YORK,

March 14, 2008 (CISA) -Efforts to meet international development goals must focus on empowering women, Deputy UN Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said in a speech delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.“Empowering women is not just an end in itself; it is a prerequisite for reaching all of the Millennium Development Goals ­ our common vision to build a better world in the 21st century,” she said of the targets, known as MDGs, that aim to slash a host of global ills by 2015.At the moment, the news is quite sobering, she said: systematic discrimination against girls and women in the world’s poorest countries will make it impossible for these states to meet the priority goal to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty by that year.“Women and girls form the majority of the world’s poor and hungry; girls are dropping out of primary school at rates far greater than boys, and the spread of HIV disproportionately affects women and girls,” Ms. Migiro said, adding that efforts to cut maternal mortality rates were also lagging.As national legal structures were still not adequately addressing this situation, women’s leadership was crucial, she said.In that context, the Deputy Secretary-General noted that MDG number three; promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, recognized this by including an indicator for women’s political leadership.To achieve this, it was crucial to promote affirmative action, human rights protection and leadership training, including apprenticeship programmes for young women in political parties, as well as programmes to develop a “women’s manifesto of policy priorities. In addition, she said, it was imperative to boost women’s economic leadership and to protect women against violence.

KENYA: Catholic Sisters Table Peace Building Programmes NAIROBI,

March 11, 2008 (CISA) -The Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya-Justice and Peace Commission (AOSK-CJPC) tabled peace-building activities to help build peace among Kenyans during the International Women’s Day (IWD) last Saturday.The AOSK-JPC held a ‘peace and reconciliation ritual’ at the Holy Family Basilica at 9.30am to pray for the success of the mediation and peace in the country on IWD.In the celebration, Nobel Peace Prize Winner- Professor Wangari Maathai said, “Today is a very special day for Kenyan women to come together and reflect. As women we have a very heavy responsibility of taking messages to grassroots level, to preach healing and create a peaceful country for our children.”She said that Kenyans should embrace its diversity and see themselves as micro-nations. Maathai appealed to all Kenyans to live in peace, nurture development, seek justice, truth and reconciliation so that they do not rise up and kill each other again.The AOSK-JPC peace building activities included: encouraging women to persuade men to keep peace, to visit the displaced and to provide them with food and shelter.Other activities were: to organise inter-religious rallies, to pray for forgiveness, reconciliation and peace in the country, introduce trauma counselling sessions in schools and peace building programmes for better future, challenge local, civic, political and religious leaders and people of good will to provide educational facilitates and teachers for the displaced, encourage youth to discuss about diverse culture and allow children to mingle with others irrespective of their tribe or political background.Among the participants were, Sr Marie Therese Gacambi of Assumption Sisters of Nairobi, Sr Mary Frances of Little Sisters of St Joseph, Professor Wangari Maathai-Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Julie Gichuru of Nation TV, Sr Jane Joan of ASOK-JPC and 8 representatives from Kalenjin, Borana, Kamba, Kikuyu, Swahili, Maasai, Luo and Luhya.

KENYA: Ethnic Violence Continues in Some Parts as Peace Returns to Nation RUMURUTI,

March 7, 2008 (CISA) -Ethnic clashes continued this week in parts of Kenya, as the rest of the nation enjoyed peace after the signing of a power-sharing deal that ended political violence.On Thursday, when President Mwai Kibaki conducted the State Opening of Parliament to pave the way for creation of a grand coalition government that includes his erstwhile foe Raila Odinga, violence broke out in Rumuruti in the Rift Valley, pitting the Turkana and Kalenjin against the Kikuyu.Between two and six people were reportedly killed. A source at Rumuruti Catholic Parish told CISA that some 30 displaced persons were camping in the parish compound.“The situation here is not good. All shops have been closed and people are requesting for security. We have also received reports that at Aian Village houses are being torched,” Ann Munyi of Rumuruti Partish said.Tensions are high in volatile Molo in the Rift Valley and Mt Elgon area of Western Kenya where there have been ethnic-based violence.President Kibaki said that the new coalition government would introduce a bill in Parliament to establish the Ethnic Relations Commission of Kenya.

KENYA: Date Set for Burial of Retired Bishop Urbanus Kioko NAIROBI,

March 4, 2008 (CISA) -The retired Catholic Bishop of Machakos, Urbanus Joseph Kioko, died on Sunday and will be buried next Friday.Bishop Kioko died of kidney failure on Sunday, March 2, at Mater Hospital in Nairobi, the current bishop, Martin Kivuva, confirmed. He was 79.The ailing bishop was transferred to ICU at Mater on February 17 after his health deteriorated. He fell sick in 2002 and retired in 2003. He has been undergoing treatment in Mater and Nairobi hospitals.The late bishop will be laid to rest at Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral Machakos on March 14. The diocese will observe three days of prayer in parishes and communities for the repose of his soul from March 11 to 13.After the mass at Mater Hospital chapel on March 13 at 2.00 p.m the body will be taken to Machakos Cathedral for an overnight stay. The requiem mass will be celebrated at Jomo Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos Town at 10.00 am.Urbanus Kioko was born of a Christian family in Kilungu, Kauti Village, on May 13, 1928, the son of the late Gregory Muthwa and Berita Nthemba.He schooled at Kauti Primary and Kabaa Intermediate schools, 1943 up to 1946. In 1947 he underwent teacher training at Lioki and Kilimambogo.Later, he joined Kilimambogo Junior Seminary in 1949 until 1953 and Kibosho Senior Seminary in Tanzania, 1953 to 1955, where he studied philosophy. He taught philosophy at Kiserian Junior Seminary in Tanzania before joining Morogoro Senior Seminary for theology from 1957 to 1960.Kioko was ordained deacon in 1960 and on January 8, 1961, a priest. He served in various parishes until 1966 when he was appointed Episcopal Vicar in Machakos. From 1967 to 1968 he studied in Italy and England. From 1969 to 1970, Fr Kioko was rector at St Joseph’s Junior Seminary in Mwingi.On July 16, 1973, he was elected bishop of Machakos Diocese and was consecrated by Maurice Cardinal Otunga on October 7, 1973.Machakos Diocese grew tremendously in the 30 years that Bishop Kioko served there. He started Pope Paul VI Junior Seminary at Katoloni and St Joseph Pastoral Centre. By the time he retired in 2003, the diocese had 42 parishes, over 100 diocesan priests and 13 religious congregations of sisters.

KENYA: Church Schools Scoop Top Positions in National Secondary Exams NAIROBI,

February 29, 2008 (CISA) -Church-founded secondary schools shone again in national examinations, taking six of the top ten positions in the 2007 results released Thursday.The top perch was taken by Catholic-founded Mangu High School, whose alumni include President Mwai Kibaki, the late Cardinal Maurice Otunga, Archbishops emeritus Raphael Ndingi of Nairobi and John Njenga of Mombasa and Bishop Anthony Muheria of Embu. The boys’ school is based in Thika District, north of the Kenyan capital.Nairobi’s Precious Blood Riruta girls’ school scooped position three followed by Loreto High School Limuru and Limuru Girls.Strathmore School, run by the Opus Dei, took position seven, followed at number eight by the Protestant-sponsored Alliance Boys High School.Morris Muchiri was the best student overall. Boys outshone girls, taking 84 out of the top 100 positions. The best female candidate, Abdulrazak Hanif, took position 17.Education Minister Prof Sam Ongeri who released the results said the number of candidates had grown from 243,435 in 2006 to 276,239 in 2007. Girls numbered 126,112 and boys 150,127.Candidates who obtained the minimum requirement for university admission, a C+, grew from 26 to 30 per cent, which is, 82, 871. There was an increase in the number of university qualifiers. Prof Ongeri said 82,134 candidates out of the total of 276,239 scored the minimum university entry grade C+. But Kenyan public and private universities admit about 30,000 new students a year.Performance improved in physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry, geography, history and government, CR, IRE, agriculture, music, French and business studies out of the 22 subjects offered in the exams. However there was a drop in Kiswahili, Home science, art and design, aviation technology and German.

KENYA: Consolata Missionaries Hold Mass for Two Recently Dead Priests NAIROBI,

February 29, 2008 (CISA) -A requiem mass was held Friday for two Consolata missionaries, an Italian and American, who died in their home countries recently.Fr Aldo Vettori, 76, died in Treviso, Italy, on February 20, while Fr George Hickey, 64, died in Sommerset, USA, on February 21. The two priests left Kenya this month.Consolata Regional Superior, Fr Franco Cellana, celebrated the mass, which was attended by members of the religious congregation and lay staff working at the Nairobi Regional House.Fr Franco said the passing of the two missionaries was an occasion to recall the meaning of the missionary vocation. The missionary is a man or woman of God, dedicated to proclaiming the work of God of truth and life, he said.The regional superior described Fr Hickey as “a man of order” and of “silence”. He also recalled the late missionary’s artistic talents.Fr Vettori, he said, will be remembered for his work in Maralal Diocese, especially his contribution to the search for peace among the sometimes warring Samburu, Turkana and Pokot communities.Born July 20, 1931, in Treviso, Italy, Fr Vettori worked as a mechanic for a short while, before joining the Consolata Missionaries in 1960. He was ordained December 18, 1965, and appointed to Kenya in 1967. He served first in Sololo in Marsabit Diocese (1967-70), Archers Post (1970-72) and Marsabit (1972-73). He started the mission of Barsaloi in Maralal Diocese (1973-1977) where he ministered until 1982, then moved to Morijo. There he spent the best of his years giving all of himself to the Samburu people of the area and to the cause of peace, until the beginning of February 2008, when his deteriorating health forced him back to Italy for treatment. He died in the hospital of Treviso from pulmonary hemorrhage. He was buried in Treviso on Saturday 23, 2008.Fr Hickey was born on August 11, 1943 in Mineola, State of New York, USA. After serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand (1966-69) he joined the Consolata Institute in 1976, served as a deacon in Colombia (1979-80) and was ordained on September 21, 1980, in Guaduas, Colombia.He served there until 1984. From 1984 to 2001 he held different positions in the States. At the beginning of 2002 he was appointed to Kenya where he had administrative duties at the Regional House in Nairobi until February 14, 2008 when he was called back to his country. A sudden heart attack caused his untimely death on February 21, 2008. He was buried in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, February 28.

KENYA: Catholics Gather at Marian Shrine to Pray for Peace and Healing KANGUNDO,

February 5, 2008 (CISA) -Hundreds of Catholic faithful from the Diocese of Machakos joined the rest of the country in praying for peace and reconciliation as reports from the national mediation process raised hopes of an end to the current crisis.Christians from 57 parishes of Machakos assembled at Komarock Marian Shrine on Saturday, led by their bishop, Martin Kivuva, and retired Archbishop Raphael Ndingi of Nairobi.Bishop Kivuva said the prayers, which featured The Way of the Cross and mass, were to “ask pardon for the sins of this nation and God’s merciful intervention.”The Diocese of Machakos, he said, supported the national dialogue and mediation efforts led by former UN secretary general Koffi Annan. The process brings together six representatives from the government and the opposition Orange Democratic Party (ODM).The mediation process is going on well and has identified four areas of dialogue: an end to the violence, solving the humanitarian crisis, addressing the political conflict caused by the flawed presidential elections and resettling of displaced people.At least 850 people have been killed and over 350,000 displaced since the post-election violence broke out at the end of December. Calm has returned in many places, but tension remains high. There are fears of resurgence of the chaos if the national dialogue fails.Bishop Kivuva said his diocese was praying “that the people of Kenya may take personal responsibility and that God may grant us the grace to appreciate the fact that true healing starts first with us.”Retired Archbishop Ndingi, born in Machakos, said Kenyans should “take this opportunity to ask their leaders to unite so that Kenya can go forward.”The Christians prayed not only for peace, but also for justice, though not through revenge. “Forgiveness is the first step towards greatness; it is the path that made Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela great, yet in this perceived as a weakness by some,” Bishop Kivuva said.He added that in order to have lasting peace, it was necessary to work for real economic and social freedom and for the respect of human dignity and property.The present crisis has pitted ethnic groups perceived to support President Mwai Kibaki against those backing Raila Odinga. Bishop Kivuva deplored ethnic bigotry.“Today, we remind ourselves and all Kenyans that the beauty of the rainbow is in its different colours; we are richer because we are blessed with the 42 tribes of Kenya. Our Kenyan rainbow is 42 colours! Let us create among all our neighbours, irrespective of tribe or creed, peaceful co-existence” he added.The Diocese of Machakos donated 3 lorry-loads of food stuffs and over Ksh 20,000 to the displaced people.

KENYA: Catholic Lenten Campaign ‘08 Focuses on National Renewal NAIROBI,

January 5, 2008 (CISA) -Ahead of the start of Lent on Wednesday, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has unveiled this year’s Lenten Campaign that focuses on national healing.The theme is: ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you’, taken from God’s message to Israel through prophet Ezekiel: “I will remove your old heart of stone and give you a new heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and help you to keep My laws.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)The Lenten Campaign booklet indicates that this year’s theme is meant to give Kenyans hope and that this Lent should be a time of renewal. The booklet is available in the dioceses.It has five sub-themes, covering the weeks of Lent. In the first week, Christians will reflect on accountability and transparency. Lack of accountability has left many people impoverished and disenfranchised. Transparency and accountability should exist at all levels, namely; the family, church, society and at work places. This culture should be developed right from the family level.In the second week, Christians will reflect on youth empowerment. The youth are being used as violent-gangs-for-hire and are easy targets for drug peddlers. To realise a prosperous, working and productive nation, Kenya should invest in youth empowerment. In Kenya, like in many African nations, many poor families struggle to educate their children, resulting in an ever increasing rate of school dropouts and high crime rates. The emergence of decentralized public funds has offered the youth an opportunity to access higher education, making them more marketable.The third week the theme will reflect on climate change. Planting seasons are unpredictable making many people lose valuable time and money. The economy has been affected as well. Climatic changes or global warming, affect everyone. Massive floods, droughts and an increase in diseases and pests as a result of higher temperatures in the atmosphere are often experienced. The fourth week will focus on gender: Both girls and boys, men and women must have equal opportunities to enable them decide what they want to do with their lives. Gender parity is likely to rid society of prejudices and stereotypes.In typical homes, girls often get second place after their brothers, in terms of meals, receiving health care and education. Girls often have to learn ‘motherhood’ early to cater for the needs of the family while the boys hardly learn the practical aspects of daily living.The fifth week focuses on reconciliation. “The church teaches that true peace is made possible only through forgiveness and reconciliation. The weight of the past, which cannot be forgotten, can be accepted only when mutual forgiveness is offered and received; this is a long and difficult process, but one that is not impossible.” (Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church 517). Different people face different kinds of conflicts, usually dictated by their cultures, socio-economic structures, political differences and others. Addressing these conflicts should always be the way forward.Lent is marked by the blessing of ashes and the smudging of it on faithful’s foreheads on Ash Wednesday or, for pastoral reasons, on the First Sunday of Lent. The act of putting on ashes symbolizes fragility and mortality as well as the need to be redeemed by the mercy of God.This year’s Lenten campaign was supposed to be launched in Lodwar. However due to the ongoing political instability the launching will not take place.

KENYA: Catholics to Hold Prayers as State and Opposition Change Tactics NAIROBI, January 18, 2007 (CISA)

-Catholics in over 700 parishes will this Sunday hold special prayers for peace called by the bishops as the political crisis in the country shows no sign of ending.The weekend is expected to be largely peaceful after three days of violent protests by supporters of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) resulted in the death of about 10 people. ODM and civil society groups accused police of shooting at unarmed civilians.On Friday, the last day of the protests, President Mwai Kibaki announced a top-level political committee to lead national peace efforts.The committee, to be headed by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, is composed of Cabinet ministers and the Attorney General.Without giving details, the Presidency said Friday that the committee is meant to “spearhead national political dialogue, national reconciliation and to promote international understanding and good relations on the political problems facing the country following the recently concluded elections.”The Orange Democratic Movement which had called for three days of mass action announced it will spearhead a boycott of companies associated with President Kibaki and his allies. News reports named some of the companies as Equity Bank, Brookside Creameries and City Hoppa bus service.International mediation of the crisis is set to resume with the arrival of the team leader, former UN Secretary General, Koffi Annan. Already former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mukapa and the wife of retired South African president Nelson Mandela, Graca, are in the country.

KENYA: Diocese Appeals for Funds to Help Thousands of Displaced People KISII

January 29, 2008 (CISA) -The Catholic Diocese of Kisii in western Kenya is appealing for urgent funds to help some 50,000 people displaced by the on-going post-election violence.The diocese is seeking Ksh 109.5 million to implement a disaster management programme to respond to the crisis in Kisii following the violence triggered by the disputed December 27 presidential election results.In conjunction with the Provincial Administration, the Diocese of Kisii is reaching out to the community to to try to assist all the internally displaced Persons in the Kisii region.According to a report from the diocese, the objectives of the project is to respond to the immediate needs of the IDPs, be in solidarity with them,, resettle the homeless, organize counselling sessions for them, assist the school going children go back to schools/colleges and work towards peace and reconciliation. The programme also intends to reach out to vulnerable groups such as children of all ages, women, youth, elderly and people with disabilities while at the same time strengthening the existing diocesan structures such as the Justice and Peace Commission and the already trained teams of paralegals and conflict managers at all levels of the diocese.The Disaster Management Team wishes to establish a permanent legal advisory centre, to offer rehabilitation services to victims of violence and rape.The project recognizes the needs of each of the vulnerable groups that have hitherto not been dealt with in a manner satisfactory to project. These groups include children, women, youth and persons with disabilities.According the report, so far, there are over 50,000 Kisii people displaced who need quick interventions from well-wishers.From January 3 to 21, the Catholic Diocese of Kisii alongside other churches and schools in the diocese has hosted over 25,000 IDPs who were on transit to various destinations.The project was inaugurated and commissioned by Bishop Joseph Mairura Okemwa of Kisii in January this year.