Nancy Koke, RSCJ, has served in the Uganda/Kenya province of the Society of the Sacred Heart for three and a half years. While on a home visit this spring, the ministry in which she serves was never far from her thoughts. She created the presentations below to try to convey the beauty and the poverty of the people she serves in Chekalini, Kenya.
In the small village of Chekalini, the Society operates a health center, a residential school for children with disabilities, and a polytechnic school that trains young adults in self-supporting work skills, primarily sewing. Sister Koke is the administrator of the health center, and she also does retreats and spiritual accompaniment, which had been part of her ministry in the United States before heeding the call to serve in Africa.
The closest hospital to Chekalini is 30-40 minutes by car. So the Society of the Sacred Heart began the health center in the 1970s as a dispensary for medications. It has evolved to meet many of the health care needs of the community. Sister Koke reports that the most common ailments seen at the health center are malaria, typhoid, dysentery and asthma. The small center averages about ten births each month, and also provides pre-natal and healthy child care. They also sponsor programs for people living with HIV/AIDS. The small staff of thirteen is working to make it a hospital.
St. Madeleine Sophie Home and Education Center for children with disabilities provides educational activities, physical therapy and craft activities. Under the loving direction of Sister Rebecca Loukae, a Religious of the Sacred Heart from Uganda, the staff makes the school more than a home – it is a place where the focus is on abilities, rather than disabilities. Students are encouraged to do what they can to help each other.
Rose Gichangi, RSCJ, is a young professed and the director of the St Charles Lwanga Technical Training Institute. The school provides classes in dressmaking and tailoring, religious education, math, English, and home economics. Because many of the school’s graduates will run their own small business, students also learn computer and business skills.
These simple ministries are meeting the needs of their community. In a place where water comes from the towers filled in the rainy season – and emptied during the dry season – even the most basic provision is a blessing. The Religious of the Sacred Heart rejoice in their ability to be a part of these life-giving ministries.
For more information about the Chekalini Ministries, contact Sister Nancy Koke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Please note: due to size limitations, we have split Sister Koke's presentation into three separate Powerpoint shows.)