St. John - Korogocho
The Korogocho slum
Korogocho slum houses some 120,000 dwellers crammed within one single square kilometer. It is made up of 7 villages called: Highridge, Grogan, Ngomongo, Ngunyumu, Githaturu, Kisumu Ndogo/Nyayo and Korogocho.
It is one of the more than 200 slums of Nairobi, covering together a mere 5% of the city territory. The population is estimated at 2.5 millions, out of the total of 4 million Nairobians.
Korogocho ranks fourth in the size of population after Kibera, Mathare and Mukuru Kwa Jenga. It is an illegal settlement born in the early eighties. Over half of the land is State property and the rest is privately owned - it seems - by a single person, Mr. Gatheca. The slum is multi-ethnic, counting some 30 ethnic groups: Kikuyu, Luo and Luhya are among the major ones. The Chief and the Administration Police have a permanent residence at the very centre of Korogocho village.
The slum socio-economic reality is very poor: there are no public services and the absence of the State is keenly felt. There are 2 City Council schools with over 4,000 children and many other informal private schools are mostly inefficient. It is well to note that 70% of the Korogocho population is less than 30 years of age. The most relevant problems are: prostitution, unemployment, drug addiction, alcoholism, rapes, criminality, domestic violence. There is also a massive presence of street children who try to escape from police round ups in the city finding a hideout in the slums. Also many illegal firearms find a place here, furthering criminality which is now moving to the city.
Presence of Comboni personnel at Korogocho
In 1983 the existing two Small Christian Communities built the first chapel of ease of the central parish. From 1990 Fr.Alex Zanotelli went to live in the yard of the informal school for poor children. A year later he moved to Githaturu in the old chapel which, in the meantime, had been replaced by a bigger one in the area of Highridge having the catholic community increased numerically. Adjacent to the chapel a community informal school was built which served and still serves some 1000 children from poor families, with kindergarten and primary school.
For the last 16 years a small Comboni community has been living fully within the slum reality with all its problems and richness. A valid choice, lived in full awareness and sobriety but above all seeped in spirituality, sharing and solidarity with the slum poorest. The missionary presence, along with the growth of the Christian community, has addressed the pastoral and human needs existent in the territory. Along the years many projects of human promotion have been realized like the informal school, the kindergarten, the rubbish recycling co-operative, the care of the sick, etc .
The religious Comboni community has always consisted of two priests and one lay missionary. Currently, and for the last few years, the personnel is made up of Fr. Daniele Moschetti, Fr. Paolo Latorre, two lay missionaries, Gino Filippini and Luca Clochiatti and two jesuit pre-novices, Chrisantus Odhiambo and Michael Ochieng. The community has hosted and accompanied, for periods of one year in turn, during the last four years, some 20 pre-postulants of various religious congregations on agreement with their superior provincials and vocation promoters.
The Korogocho christian community
We have 26 Small Christian Communities spread all around the Korogocho territory. Two of them, Mukuru Recycling Centre and Ujamaa, are made up of scavengers who work in the next dump and Tanzanian lepers who go begging in the city and live in a degraded area called Grogan. We reckon the practicing faithful to be around 3000. All the pastoral activities have always been coordinated with the central parish of Kariobangi. We notice also the presence of youth groups: under and over 16, the liturgical dancers, altar boys and girls, the Sunday school for the youngest. The children catered for, between the school and the community, are over a thousand. We celebrate two Sunday Masses with a particular Misa ya Sinodi (The Synod Mass).
To express concretely the charitable activity of the Small Christian Communities, 16 services have been set up. Each service has a representative from each community for every specific service to be offered to the whole christian community in the territory. They are autonomous, have their leaders and have days and times to meet and organize the services. Each Huduma chooses its leaders every three years.
The services are: Justice and Peace, Faith, Liturgy, Council of Leaders (Baraza), Catechists, the Poor, the Sick, Legio Maria, the Eucharist Extraordinary ministers, Alcoholic Anonymous, Ushers, School, Funerals, Pro-life, Widows, Sport. There are also three Associations: Catholic Women Association, Pioneers and Korogocho Women Awareness Programme (KWAP).
Baraza St. John (Zonal Council)
The Baraza is composed of 78 leaders: 3 from each Christian community, democratically elected every three years. One of the 3 must represent the youth of that community. The Baraza meet every Wednesday evening for a couple of hours, twice a month to discuss emergent problems and possible solutions and the other two times for moments of spiritual and human formation open to the whole christian community. It is an important organization for programming and realizing the evangelization and human promotion in the territory. The Baraza elects an Executive body of 10 people who hold the office for 3 years. Responsibilities are shared among the members: chairman, vice-chairman, secretary, vice-secretary, treasurer, vice-treasurer, ambassador and 3 youth representatives. They prepare the Zonal Council agenda and implement the baraza's resolutions. Five representatives attend the monthly Parish Pastoral Council at Kariobangi.
KOSLA. Korogocho - Ecumenical Group
The Different Christian Churches of Korogocho meet several times a year.
On the 1st of January the organize a Peace pilgrimage to several Churches. The Prayer Week for Unity a an other opportunity to meet each other. The Catholic Parish brings several pastors together in mutual fellowship.
Collaboration and networks
From the very beginning, the Comboni missionaries of Korogocho, together with the Kibera Christ the King parish, have relished a combined action in the realities of the two slums and a pilgrimage to each respective parish. They founded the Kutoka Network in Nairobi to unify the parishes bordering with the slums that intend to fight for the improvement of the conditions of life in the slums, including the land.
There is also a good relationship with pastors of other churches and from time to time we meet for formative encounters, prayer and community initiatives.
As a pastoral team we are committed to the campaign for the debt cancellation in collaboration with the Amecea and the Catholic Economic Justice, and other NGOs and various organizations.
Holy Cross Parish - Dandora
Holy Cross Catholic Parish, Dandora, is located eleven kilometers east of Nairobi center. Dandora is a relatively new low-cost housing area for the urban poor, established by the Nairobi City Commission with the WorldBank in 1977. The hopes for this model "site and service scheme" were to enable plot ownership by the poor with access to good water, garbage disposal, proper sewage disposal, and electricity. Mismanagement and corruption soon lead to a failure to provide most of these essential services and the needs of the rapidly growing population of urban poor had not been met.
Slums and Informal Settlements in Dandora Parish
Whilst there are patches of slum dwellings within the greater Dandora Housing Estate, there is only one informal settlement within the Parish's area of Jurisdiction which can justifiably be referred to as a slum; it is called Gitare-Marigo.
There the houses are made of mud and scrub-metal roofing. The residents have no access to sewerage facilities and energy. They have to buy water within the slum. The slum is not accessible by a vehicle~that is, infrastructure is nern-existent. There are no health care -facilities.
Many of the residents live by occasionally going for domestic household casual jobsin the greater Dandora Housing Estate as well as far-off places like Komarock and Buruburu estates. A few live by scavenging for food at the nearby garbage dumping site, while others rely on hand-outs from well wishers such as the church. An insignificant number engage in informal business activities and crafts commonly known as "JUA KALI".
History of the parish
In 1978, Holy Cross (CSC) accepted pastoral responsibility within the Archdiocese of Nairobi to administer the Holy Cross Parish at Dandora. Fr. James Rahily, Holy Cross Father (csc) was the first Father-In-Charge. with Fr. William Blum, csc, Fr. Thomas McDermorty, csc and the late Frs.George McInnes, csc and James Karafa, csc among others served with him . Since then the Parish h as beenadministered by the Holy Cross (CSC), a missionary congregation, whose African Regional Headquarters are based at Kampala in Uganda. In 1987 Fr. Tom Smith, csc took over as the Father-InCharge. Fr. Frank Murphy, csc served the parish from 1989 to 1996 and Fr. John Wababa, csc took over in 1995. In the late 90's leadership of the parish was handled by Fr. Fulgen-Katende, csc until Fr. James Burasa, csc took over up to the year 2001 when the mantle was handed over to Fr. Silvester Makwaliy csc. Fr. Silvester, csc was succeeded by the present Father-In-Charge Fr. Andrew Massawe csc in September, 2005. He is assisted by Fr. Simon Mwangi, csdc and Fr. William, Lukati csc.
Development of the parish
Since its beginnings, the parish has sought to expand pastoral and developmental services to meet the demands of the growing population, which now numbers over 200,000 people. Most members of the parish are poor but warm-hearted, loving, and God-fearing. They come from different ethnic backgrounds and have brought with them varied gifts to enrich the faith, liturgies and prayer of one another in the parish.
The Parish has more than 30,000 parishioners and one sub-parish.
Small Christian Communities
The parish is organized in Small Christian Communities which meet weekly to share on the Scriptures, to discuss common problems and to plan care of needy neighbors. The Small Christian Community Groups in Dandora were started in 1984 and have grown up to be ranked as among the best organized Christian Groups in the Archdiocese. Actually there are 41 Small Christian Communities (scc) in the parish.
The Small Christian communities practically constitute the foundation on which the church is built; they not only infiltrate every activity that is, undertaken by the parish, but also determine the course of action to be taken in any issue, since their recommendation is sought for any undertaking. Many of the ministries of the parish are handled through the Small Communities, including charity to the poor, teaching parents about Sacraments, animation of Justice and Peace activities, liturgical planning and ministries, and care for the sick.
The Small Christian Community Groups offer spiritual, moral and material support to impoverished and marginalized groups in the neighbourhood. This is undertaken through committees such as the assistance to the Poor Committee, Community Health Workers Committee, Justice and Peace Committee and the Lay Apostolate Committee.
Education ministry in the parish
The parish offers: nursery and primary education,
St. James Primary School is located within Dandora Holy Cross Catholic Church Compound. It developed in 2000 from the nursery school that had already been in operation for twenty years. Although the school is surrounded by city council and private primary schools, the Holy Cross Religious and lay group in Dandora saw a need for a church run school which would promote Christian living and moral behaviour. The school caters to the children in the area, yet it is not even able to absorb the number of students that come from the parish nursery school because of limited space. Its objectives for the future are to continue to grow to meet the need of the community while still providing quality education, addressing the intellectual, spiritual and moral needs of the children.
The school began from a good foundation and has set the highest academic standard. It is counted among the best school in the area and achieves the first position in Terminal Exams since its establishment.
The parish has also a library for reading and borrowing for students who lack study facilities.
The parish, through the Small Christian communities, assists the residents of the slums and the poor by providing some food and clothing to the slum dwellers.
There is a program for the elderly "Holy Cross Help Age Project". As the conditions of the houses of some elderly persons is miserable, the project helps some of the needy members to construct dwelling units wherever previous ones are swept away by rain.
Our parish has attempted to arrest the deteriorating situation by identifying a few of the most vulnerable residents, - particularly the aged, through the Sponsor a Grant-Parent Programme, Thanks to HelpAge International of London. This is in addition to our Assistance to the poor Programme mentioned above.
Although the residents' response to our efforts is encouraging, our limited resources, once again, are our main constrain.
Much as the parish would wish to help, on this, because of limited resources, represents "a drop in the ocean".
The parish has also a social welfare program for the refugees and most destitutes..
There is also a family life education and counseling services at the parish.
The parish runs a dispensary to provide affordable healthcare for the people of Dandora.
The health program also includes outreach to the sick in their homes to provide them with necessary treatment.
The health program is a collaborative effort with the Nairobi Archdiocese eastern deanery, which provides nurses to assist in the parish. Lately, the parish also initiated a Health Workers' Community -Based Programme whose main objective is to address the Health and Nutrition needs of the residents.
Eradication of poverty
There is a revolving loan scheme to enable the poor to develop their plots and to encourage small scale business.
There are a number of youth projects.