Catching up with Kathy Kettle RSM in Kenya
Earlier this month, Elizabeth Moloney RSM (Institute Councillor) and Rose Glennen RSM travelled to Nairobi Kenya to visit Kathy Kettle RSM, an Australian Sister who has been living and working there for almost five years.
Kathy works at the Mukuru Promotion Centre (MPC), which was established by the Irish Sisters of Mercy in 1985. She follows in the footsteps of other Australian mercies who have lived and work there. The MPC provides a range of education, social, health and welfare services to the marginalized people living in the Mukuru Slums. The slum areas in Kenya account for approximately 55-60% of the population. MPC is totally reliant on donations, as it is not in receipt of any government funding.
Elizabeth Moloney said that she and Rose enjoyed spending time with Kathy and seeing the wonderful work which she is doing at MPC in seeking to make a difference in the lives of people who are living in such poverty.
“A large part of her role is on the development of services and building sites, which can be very complex in an undeveloped country.
“Kathy is also involved mentoring and supporting the local employees of the MPC. Some of the MPC staff have come through their education system and have received scholarships from the service. At holiday time some come back to do contributing services whether it be the gardening or cleaning or other kind of infrastructure support” she said.
Elizabeth Moloney said it was clearly evident to her and Rose, that although the conditions are difficult, Kathy and the other members of the MPC are making significant changes in the lives of those people accessing their services.
“The work Kathy and the MPC are doing, particularly in the areas of health and education, has its roots in the work which Catherine McAuley began at Baggot Street some 192 years ago.
“Like the ministries Catherine established for the poor people of Dublin, without these services the people of the Mukuru Slums would be well and truly forgotten. There is simply not the access to basic health and education services provided by government which we take for granted in places like Australia.
“One of the services provided by MPC which spoke to me the most is the Mary Immaculate Rehabilitation Centre, which was started as a place for the many kids living on the streets of the industrial area adjacent to MPC. It provides a home and activities for the children for one year and seeks to re-integrate them if possible with their family or to a meaningful life off the streets, in boarding school or in employment. From all accounts this centre is achieving some great outcomes”, Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth and Rose also performed an important function, carrying with them from Australia a $2500 five kilogram part for one of the MPC buses.
“There are certain items like bus parts that just aren’t available in Kenya, so they use the opportunity of anyone travelling there to bring items with them.
“We did wonder what the customs officials were going to say about this bus part being in our luggage, however whether it was through good luck or divine intervention we don’t know, as we were able to get through the customs line very easily!
“It is wonderful to think that this small gesture of us carrying over for them this small bus part can actually improve the lives of so many”, Elizabeth said.