Prepared by Redemptah Mutie
The gathering started with a word of prayer from Meg McCarthy of USA and then followed by the welcoming of new members who were: Dr. Alphonse from Kenya and Shammas Nazeel from Pakistan. Dr. Alphonse is a youth worker and also works as a lecturer at Loyola University, New Orleans where he teaches a course on Small Christian Communities
Collins Ong’oma from Kenya shared his experience as a teacher who often interacts with young teenagers the majority are his students. He said that young people need someone who will give them some sense of direction and at the same time help them make informed decisions. He encountered a situation where his students were discussing a movie called “nun” they had watched. The main issue in the discussion was sexual relations and homosexuality. He said that the world is losing direction as far as those issues are concerned. The best gift we can offer to young people is to journey with them and always give them psychosocial support.
Gerald Mang’era from Kenya said that he hails from a very marginalized part of Kenya. His experience is that there is a lack of representation in many aspects of life. Young people are not being represented in many crucial places and it’s worse for the disabled and drug addicts. These groups don’t get to be understood when they raise their grievances because of discrimination from other members of society. They don’t know their rights because they are illiterate and they don’t get opportunities to go to school. This is caused by a lack of school fees and early marriages. This has affected them in a way that they can’t make informed decisions in their lives. He pointed out the role of the church from an experience where a number of volunteers came for a medical camp in the area under the sponsorship of their local church. He was so pleased because apart from offering medical services the team also gave free counseling on sexuality and guidance and counseling services to the disabled and drug addicts.
Juma from Uganda shared his experience with the disabled and drug addicts. He shared out a story of his old friend in primary school who became a drug addict by abusing drugs such as Marijuana and cocaine. These drugs had very adverse effects on him to a point that he went mad. While at a conference he was able to meet his old friend and he realized that he was subject to change. As a society, we needed to talk to addicts because they are just normal people who are subject to change when we give them the right help. In his experience with the disabled, he learned that they can do anything because their brains are very functional. He gave out an example of a preacher who gives a very touching sermon despite being disabled. Indeed, disability is not inability
Brenda from Uganda shared her experience with single mothers. At her A level, she studied with a young girl who got an early pregnancy and she ended up being a single mother due to the fact the father of the baby denied the pregnancy. Her life was difficult in terms of the time and finances to bring up her child. She pointed out that the church needed to offer support financially and through mentorship programs because children from single mothers turn out to be great people when given the right help. She also shared her experience with the refugees in her country who have been forced into forced labor and sexual harassment. She pointed out that the church needs to establish refugees’ families, employment, sponsorships, and guidance and counseling to help the refugees.
Redemptah of Kenya shared her experience with the orphans in her local community. She gave out a story of two young girls who have lived miserable life since their mother died 14 years ago. Since the dad had to travel for work the two girls had been left under the care of their aunt who had been beating them and denying them food. One of the girls had to come all the way to our home to borrow sanitary towels since the aunty denied her money for the same. She pointed out that the church and even the community needed to provide emotional and material support to the orphans in our communities.
Shammas Nazeel from Pakistan said that there many cases of child abuse and persecution in his country that many times lead to discrimination. He pointed out that the church needed to deliver messages on how to survive in Pakistan. Currently they have been trying to keep the affected away from discrimination especially those in rural areas. He said that the church can also point out some institutions where training will be given although the institutions are there, more were needed.
Ashiknaz Khokhar from Pakistan shared his sad experience with the ongoing massive floods in his country. The floods have brought adverse effects such as loss of property, loss of lives, and displacement of people. He also pointed out that inflation was a major threat in Pakistan. He said the church is hopeless because it doesn’t have enough resources to provide social support to the victims. There has been no announcement from the church yet. Climate change is a big issue that needs to be addressed now.
Father Joe Healey from Mary knoll community shared his encounter with homeless person sleeping in the street as he was walking to a government building while in the USA. The homeless man sleeping on grass and people just passed by and no one bothered to help. He said that in USA the homeless are often seen to be people with mental problems.
Alloys Nyakundi from Kenya said that he has interacted with single mothers and divorced women. He said that they have been denied some crucial things because of their nature. They have even been forced to work extra hours in order for them to raise money to support their children in terms of food and education. Sometimes, as the children fail to go to school, the rich take advantage of them and this has led to teenage pregnancies. He also pointed out that most people live in denial due to a lack of proper sex orientation. He gave an example of a man who took his life because he felt that he was not welcomed in society. We needed to be more listening in order to find a way forward on how to co-exist in this world.
Dr. Alphonce Omolo said that he works with the children and the young people, mostly the street people through small programs in the small Christian communities. He said that as young people we can bring a change to our fellow young ones because we understand their issues well than any other person. However, there has been a limitation of resources and competencies among the young people in their run to help their colleagues in terms of drug abuse, family-related problems, and school-related problems. Skills and resources needed to be provided in order for the young people to undertake those duties well.
Becky from Uganda shared her experience with her fellow student where she was mistreated by her relatives to an extent that she almost committed suicide. She said that the church needed to be more friendly to its people. She also pointed out the poor people who find it hard to get their basic needs. The church needed to look out for them.
The facilitator for the next meeting was suggested to be Ashiknaz Khokhar of Pakistan. Alloys urged members to pray for one of us Staicy, who was in the hospital. He also thanked the members, especially the new members who joined the meeting that day, and encouraged them to stay focused and think of ways to transform the local communities.
The meeting ended with a word of prayer from Brenda. The next meeting will be on 13th October 2022.