By Francis Njuguna
The heavy rains that the East African region has received in recent months has resulted in sufferings to hundreds of people through floods (landsides and mudslides).
But one thing is notable.
The Catholic Church has moved in to assist the flood victims.
An example of this is the AMECEA — Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa — Small Christian Communities (SCCs) Training Team Find that has to date given out a total of US$ 2,000 to 20 affected families in the region.
The fund, also known as “Mfuko wa Jumuiya” in Kiswahili was established in 2010 through financial assistance from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers as well as their friends in America.
“The aim of the fund’s establishment is to assist the church show solidarity with people in distress, an example of the current floods victims,” says Father Joseph Healey, MM who is coordinating the fund from the Maryknoll House in Nairobi, Kenya,
Father Healey says the fund is using a matching grant system, whereby the affected families, through their SCCs must contribute a similar amount as that given by the fund, currently US$ 100. “The affected families and through their SCCs must contribute a similar amount to the one expected from us. Say if we give US$ 100, then the affected families must also give the same amount of money,” he explained.
The current floods catastrophe has resulted the killing of people, animals and heavy damage on the land, resulting land and mudslides.
Father Healey explained that these grants are not without conditions. He says that the affected family or community, through its SCC must send a representative to our Nairobi, Kenya Office to collect the grant from us, vote on the SCCs website, and answer some questions on the SCCs and their operations as well as explain how they plan to spend the requested money.
“The person that has been sent must bring with him/her a list of contributors from the affected locality, showing their names and their contributions. This should include the SCC members, their neighbors and friends,” says Father Healey, popularly known as Mwanajumuiya, the Swahili word for “a member of SCC.”
The free online Ebook, Building the Church as Family of God: Evaluation of Small Christian Communities in Eastern Africa has widely written on this church fund. As such it qualifies to be described as authoritative on this issue.
Father Healey says social media and in particular, Facebook, has played a big role in facilitating communications between his office and the affected people/communities. “Our SCCs Facebook Page has played such a big role,” Father Healey has stressed.
A report from Saint Paul’s SCC in the larger Saint Peter Parish in the Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Embu in the country’s Eastern Region shared the following, for example:
We have raised a total of KSHs. 175,000 (about US$ 1,750). We now have a target of KSHs. 100,000 (about US$ 1,000). The purpose of raising money is to help people/communities that have been affected by both the landsides and mudslides. We plan to purchase blankets and mosquito nets for them.
From Saint Monica SCC in the Kenya’s Diocese of Lodwar in the country’s Northeastern Region and dated 3 December, 2019, the following was shared:
Dear Mwanajumuiya Padre Joseph Healey. Receive our tearful request. The heavy rains have caused destruction and loss of life. We formed a taskforce on behalf of Saint Monica SCC to raise funds to build homes for about thirty (30) families who have survived in our parish. They have been forced to flee from mountainous ranges to low land. Some people lost life, others their belongings and livestock; they are now helpless due to landslides in Loliyanga, Lokichar Lukiir and Kaluku.
The report compiled by the SCC Moderator, Mr. Peter Lekorini also shared other information concerning a list of the SCC members, their neighbors and friends and equally their financial contributions. “We have managed to raise a total amount of KSHs. 280,000 (about US$ 2,800. Our target is KSHs. 500,000 (about US$ 5,000)”, emphasized the report.
St. Kizito SCC in the wider Uganda Catholic Diocese of Soroti, Uganda in the country’s Eastern Region shared the following information.
We have an estimated 35 families affected by the floods and mudslides. We plan to have the affected families moved from the lower to high grounds. The affected families are in dire need of shelter, clothing, food, and mosquito nets. Any kind of assistance from you is most welcome. Please help,” stressed the report, compiled and submitted by one of SCC’s leaders, Mr. Godfrey Gizamba.
6 March, 2020