Parishes in Slums and Informal Settlements
in Nairobi West Deanery
- Parishes in Slums and Informal Settlements in Nairobi Western Deanery
- Christ the King - Kibera
- Our Lady of Guadalupe - Adams Arcade
- Sacred Heart - Dagoretti
- St. Joseph the Worker - Kangemi
- Our Lady Queen - Karen
- St. Michael Archangel - Langata
- St. John the Evangelist – Langata
- Nairobi Ruaraka Deanery - Parishes in Slums and Informal Settlements
- Central Deanery - Parishes in Slums and Informal Settlements
- Nairobi Eastlands Deanery - Parishes in Slums and Informal Settlements
- Nairobi Makadara Deanery - Parishes in Slums and Informal Settlements
Christ the King Parish - Kibera
The parish is in the middle of the slum area of Kibera, near the railway.
Parish Priest: Fr. Gerard Ochoa - Guadalupe Missionary
Place: Kibera slum - Line Saba
Number of sub-parishs: 5
Number of small Christian Communities: 33
It is estimated that 700,000 people live in Kibera, an area that is made up of only 550 acres, thereby making Kibera the largest and most densely populated informal settlement in all of Sub-Sahara Africa.
Christ the King Catholic Church is physically located in the heart of Kibera. It is the only parish in the Archdiocese of Nairobi whose boundaries fall completely inside of an informal settlement. Our parishioners, who number over 5,000, come from six of the eleven Kibera villages including Line Saba, Soweto, Mashimoni, Lindi, Silanga, Kambi Muru. The Parish also includes Nyayo Highrise, a small area occupied by middle class residents.
To the eye of the casual observer, Kibera is an energetic and booming settlement where all manner of trade, shop keeping and artisan can be found. Life is fast paced and every path is filled with people all ages going places. Upon a deeper look, however, you will learn that the people of Kibera are one of the most exploited and oppressed classes of people in Kenya. The violent clashes that occurred here in December of 2001 are a symptom, not the end result, of the many underlying privations and injustices that are inflicted daily on the people of Kibera.
Kibera, like all slums in Nairobi, is severely overcrowded, insecure and unsanitary. An average of 4 to 5 people stay in a room that averages 8 ft by 8 ft. One-room shanties are sandwiched together so that the densities average 250 units per hectare versus 25 units in a middle class area and 10 units in high income areas. The only walkways are narrow dirt paths that frequently flood and are impassable during the rainy seasons.The vast number of residents in the informal settlements lives in very high levels of poverty. While the many are unemployed, those that manage to find work generally earn less than US $2 a day selling fruits and vegetables or working as casual unskilled labourers. In the absence of viable income activities, theft, prostitution, smuggling and illegal brewing of alcohol infect Kibera.
Urban infrastructure services are virtually non-existent here. Residents have no access to electricity. Potable water must be purchased from vendors at prices up to ten times higher than the rate charged by local authorities. Almost 65% of the residents do not have access to any toilets and are forced to use open areas and flying toilets. Those people lucky enough to have access to a pit latrine are forced to share it fifty to one hundred people per toilet. The city has long since stopped collecting refuse, so garbage lies permanently in unsanitary heaps often blocking the drainage channels. The lack of sanitary facilities to dispose of human waste and garbage has led to serious environmental and health hazards including a higher incidence of diseases like typhoid, cholera and tuberculosis.
In addition to the abysmal living conditions, the government provides no social amenities for Kibera residents. There are no government health facilities d a handful of government schools in Kibera. More than half of the children do not even attend school. Those that do go to school, attend schools that are informal and grossly inadequate for the number of children living in Kibera.
Our parish caters to the pastoral, physical and emotional needs of over 5,000 Catholics living in this very desperate situation. In a settlement where people live on the very m argins of economic and social boundaries, survival is the main focus of each day.
The Christian Community of Christ the King Catholic Church
The Christian Community is the very heart and soul of everything that happens in our Parish here at Christ the King. Originally an sub-parish of St. Michael's parish for twenty years, Christ the King was officially recognized as its own parish in 1997.
Our Parish is run and administered by the Guadalupe Fathers from Mexico, with part-time assistance from the Maryknoll Fathers and Yarumal Fathers. In addition, religious sisters from several communities including the Canosian, Sacred Heart and Maryknoll work in a number of different areas in the Parish. Also, we have lay missioners from the Guadalupe and Maryknoll communities as well as lay people from our Parish who are working as part of the pastoral team.
The Parish is organized around a model of jimuiya ndgo or small Christian communities that meet in neighborhood groups to pray and serve the Parish community. These jimuiyas are clustered into sub-parishs or "eneos". It is the goal of the Parish to reach beyond these small Christian communities and involve many more of our Christians in the life of the Parish. We have built churches in each of the four sub-parishs and have begun to strengthen these communities at a very local level in order to increase the participation and involvement of more Catholics.
In addition to the 33 Jumuiyas in the Parish, we have several groups that are also part of our Parish family. These groups include our three choirs, youth group, women's group and civic education group.
The Parish is first and foremost committed to the spiritual formation and nourishment of our Christians. Under the catechesis programme, the parish team strives to provide our parishioners with access to the sacraments with special emphasis on offering daily mass in the homes and "eneos" of our parishioners. We are also working hard to make baptism for both children and adults, and the marriage sacrament more available. In addition, the Parish is keen to support evangelization at all levels for the people of Kibera.
The parish started as an sub-parish of St. Michael's parish in 1974. In 1998 Christ the King was recognized as a parish. Since the beginning it has been administered and run by the Guadalupe Missionaries with assistance from a pastoral team formed by religious from different congregations and lay people.
The parish following the proposal of the AMECEA (Eastern African) Bishops is divided in small Christian communities (scc), small enough for the members to know one another and to be able to care for the others and for the needs of the community. Actually there are 33 scc in the parish. They are called jumuiya. They meet to pray, to get formation and they are involved in a great name of activities.
The parish has five sub-parishs attended by four priests (3 Guadalupe fathers and 1 St. Patrick Society). The Eucharist is celebrated in the sub-parishs and in the scc.
To respond to the pastoral, physical, emotional needs of the population, the parish has established a number of vibrant ministries.
1. Biblical center to promote Bible' studies in the parish.
2. Faith formation to answer the spiritual needs of the parishioners. It educates on the Christian knowledge of the Gospel, Christian faith and spirituality. There are 33 trained catechists who serve in the different small Christian communities (scc).
The Sunday School provides catechism and Christian formation to children in the parish.
3. Human Rights department to respond to the legal needs of the parishioners and the Kibera community. The primary objective is to provide civic education and awareness on areas of Human Rights, good governance, women and children's rights, worker's rights, tenants' rights, etc
4. Education Ministry. The parish has a Primary School "Line Saba" founded in 1992 for street children. Actually there are 380 students in standard 1 to 8 and 12 teachers. The school is a full-fledged formal school administered by the Sacred Heart Sisters. It has a Library and a computer class.
The Secondary School, John Paul II started in 2003. There are more than 60 students from Form 1 to 4.
There are five nursery schools in the different sub-parishes. The first one in the Parish was started in 1995 to cater for street children and children from poor families. The one on the parish compound has more than 100 children from 3 to 5 years old, instructed by four teachers.
In all the schools chldren receive food twice a day.
5. Holistic Health center. The dispensary was opened in 1981 by Caritas that handled it to the parish in 2001. It responds to the health needs of Kibera community. The clinic is located in the parish and staffed by a full-time nurse and a part-time doctor. The Centre provides home-based care and education on HIV/AIDs.
6. Pro-life Ministry educates people on the values of life and creates awareness on the thread to human life and abortions. It offers counseling and help to pregnant girls.
7. The Communications department assists all the other departments and the parish as a whole on matters regarding communications. It informs on events and activities in the parish and in Kibera.
8. Kibera Cultural Centre, aims at helping the people of Kibera, particularly the youth, to strengthen their African identity and culture.
9. Self-reliance department answers the economic and employment needs by promoting job creation and vocational training.
Professional training. This ministry undertakes training in business management, economic self-reliance, skills in different fields and job searching. It has received a number of industrial machines and trains women to use them, hoping to find jobs in the industrial area. It teaches how to make soap; tie and dye; etc. There is also a a vocational school for boys, Don Bosco and a vocation school for girls where tailoring, embroidery, dressmaking is taught to destitute girls. There are also classes in literacy, crocheting, weaving, cooking, hair-dressing, etc.
10. Women's Ministry deals with women and issues related to them. There is a development department.
11. A drop-in-Centre for street children has been started at the beginning of 2006 by Consolata Sisters, to rehabilita street children who want to be educated, so as to prepare them to join a formal school.
The Kibera Ecumenical Encounter brings together the pastors and representatives of several local parishes and communities such as the Anglican, Catholic, and Evangelical Lutheran parishes, Legion of Mary, several evangelical and Pentecostal communities and the Inter-religious Forum for Peace and Development, and the "African Peace Point" - Kibera .
They invite each other every month during their Encounter, in their local communities and Worship places, to join in Christian brotherhood. In a fraternal spirit they pray and share there common concerns.At their meeting, they share the Word of God, and Pray for their common needs. In a fraternal way the local news is shared at every encounter.
The core of the Ecumenical Encounter is their pastoral care for their local communities, stressing on some particular issue taken out of a social analysis worked out by "Christ the King Catholic Parish". (See "Parish transformation in Urban Slums. Voices of Kibera" Ed. Paulines 2005)
Spiritual subjects are shared such as "Prayer in a Christian Family", The Word of God in our Worship and Families" .
The regular meetings take place in turn at each of the different communities in an open and fraternal spirit.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish - Adams Arcade
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish compound is placed at the border of Kibera, outside the slum, near a popular street market. Part of the parish is formed by Kibera villages while another part of the parish is formed by middle class people living in the area. This gives quite a diversity of parishioners and an opportunity to share.
The parish was started in 1970. The Guadalupe Fathers (from Mexico) are in charge of the parish, since its beginnings. Last year year they feasted the 40th anniversary of their presence in Kenya. Over the years the parish has supported the social transformation of the community and has continued to evangelize the persons. The parish has been the mother of the following parishes: Christ the King in Laini Saba (Kibera); St. Michaels Parish Langata; St. Vincent Palloti Dagoretti. Actually it sers a stageering. These parishes serve presently an estimated 70% urban poor people most of whom live in Kibera slums.
The actual parish priest is Fr. Raul Navas and he is assisted by Fr. John, both Missionaries of Guadalupe.
There are quite a number of convents in the parish, and some of them, priests and religious offer their services to the parish, for the different ministries.
The pastoral team is formed by the Parish personnel and representatives of the sub-parishes (outstations).
The parish has four sub-parishs: St. Luke in Kianda; St. Thomas in Makina; St. Jude in Olympic; and Woodley, tha main parish. There are 21 small christians communities (scc) in the parish in the different sub-parishs: 5 in Kianda; 6 in Makina; 4 in Olympic; and 6 in Woodly.
The parish covers the following areas: Central sub-parish: Woodley, Kilimani, Jamhuri Estate, KSTC, City Council, Riara Road, Kingara Road, Chaka Road.
Olympic sub-parish: Olympic, Ayany, Karanja road, Fort Jesus.
Makina sub-parish: entire Makina village in Kibera
Kianda sub-parish: Entire Kianda Village in Kibera, Jamhuri Park
Pastoral Care and Ministries in the parish
Pastoral care in Nairobi today goes far beyond preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are immediate needs that closely disturb the minds of priests, religious and the laity. Such needs vary from provision of bread to the poor, medication for the sick, training of the youth, skill development for men and women, counselling for mentally disturbed persons, peace-building and equipping the community with knowledge power. Formation of the persons remains the greatest challenge.
With all the problems, especially unemployment, education and training, the residents need intervention and performance of some activities to help imrpove the living standards of some people in particular and the society ingeneral. Unemployment comes along with idleness attracting drug abuse, insecurity, prostitution and gross violation of human rights, etc. with the current Kenyan economic growth rate of 2%, poverty is likely to continue wearing and tearing a great population.
The small christian communities (scc) meet to pray together, to read the Word of God (following the 7 steps of Lumko), to discuss together the problems affecting them and to take some resolutions as community. The members of each community help one another and share joys, sorrows and challenges. They celebrate together and they invite others to feast with them on the day of their patron saint, when they have a Eucharistic celebration too.
The small christian communities contribute a great deal to the life of the parish: they participate in the Sunday liturgy with their choirs, readers, offertory procession and prayers. They also offer their economic contribution to the parish and form groups to clean the Church.
The leaders are chosen every three years and they follow an on-going formation. Each sub-parish organizes the on-going formation for the leaders of their own scc.
Ministries in the parish
- Human and moral formation. Organizes moral and human formation workshops, retreats, seminars at the Guadalupe Human Development Center.
- Faith formation and Catechism. The catechetical team is formed by 3 people full-time working for the parish: a sister and 2 lay men. There are 3 full trainde catechists that do a voluntary work and 4 catechists who have not yet completed their formation. There are also about 40 more volunteer catechists in the parish: brothers, sisters and lay people. The catechists prepare children, adults and parents for the sacraments. They follow the Pastoral Program Instruction (PPI) in 8 Primary public schools in the parish and the priests goes to celebrate the Eucharist in these schools, where there are a good number of Catholics. The team of catechists also takes care of the Sunday school (2 classes) in the Parish and in 1 class in each one of the 3 other sub-parishs. The team have formation on behaviour change mainly for young people.
- Justice and Peace. The parish has a team of representatives from the sub-parishs and scc, to work on issues relevant to human rights, greater justice and peacebuilding. Together with the group Mugera Peace Building, they give civic education to the christians and to the refugees, very numerous in the parish.
- Social Services. Three groups of people receive the main attention of the Social department: the poor; the sick (HIV/AIDs patients), the orphans and the elderly. The Social services gives them food and visits the families to know better their situation and their problems and to read the Bible with them (even the non-catholics are happy to read the Bible). There is home based care and pastoral care, provision for food, health care, counselling and other social issues.
- The parish cares also for the refugees, and offers them the building to host the "UNILAC University" where education and training in economics, political sciences, law, peace building and Arts is given mainly to those coming from DR Congo and Rwanda.
- Care of HIV/AIDs. The RIARA Project administered by the Medical Missionary of Mary, has a "Voluntary Counselling and Testing" (VCT) Center in the compound of the parish. The personnel of RIARA does home-care in different Kibera villages to follow the patients, to give counselling.
- Eradication of poverty and income generating projects. The parish has a Micro-finance project to help mainly the slum dwellers of Kibera and Dagoretti.
- SOMIRENEC (Comboni Fathers) has a micro-finance project, "Bidi kwa Maendeleo" to help mainly parishioners and small business in Kibera. They are given a loan that they have to repay every month with a very small interest rate.
- Education. During the day hours when the church and the chapels are not used they serve as Nurseries for the small children. The parish has a nursery school with 2 classes plus a pre-unit in the compound of the parish; and a nursery with a pre-unit in each one of the three sub-parishs. The parish has a Vocational training Center that provides formation and training in dressmaking, tailoring and introduction to computers.
- Health. The New Life Home is a health and care facility, an initiative of the Missionaries of Charity Brothers.
- On-going formation. There are regular seminars and workshops on different issues for the christians and the different leaders. The whole last year was dedicated to the family life.
- Pastoral care. The priests celebrate the Eucharist regularly in the sub-parishs and in the scc. They visit the sick on Friday morning, and they animate the Pastoral team and the different departments of the parish.
- Youth. There is a chaplancy for youth. Fr. Bernard (Canadian Foreign mission) is in charge of it.
- There are 7 choirs in the parish; and different goups of dancers for the feast days during the liturgy.
- There are quite a number of groups in the parish: Family life; Marriage encounter; Catholic Women Association; Widows, etc.
- Media and Communications Apostolate, produces publications, videos and films, information management, and provides media training. The department gathers and disseminates information, and has a photography, videography, library and archives.
- Street children rehabilitation. The parish offers them human and moral formation, care and protection, provision of food, searches for foster families and homes, and offers them basic education and develops their skills especially in arts.