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(ANS – Kakuma) – On Monday 25 June, Fr Gianni Rolandi, the new Superior of the “East Africa” Province, went to the “Holy Cross” inside the Kakuma refugee camp. He met teachers, students, workers and other personnel at the centre and leaders of the small Christian communities.
During the day he presided at two Masses, one in the Holy Cross parish and another in the church dedicated to St Daniel Comboni. Meeting the catechists and others leading the small communities he listened to their stories and especially the requests for more priests to care for the spiritual lives of the refugees.
The he met the young refugees who attend the “Don Bosco Vocational Training Centre”: about 1000 in total from a large number of central and west African countries ho are following work preparation courses in woodwork, car mechanics, plumbing, sewing, hydraulics, electronics, building, computers and English. The Superior met and talked with them showing a personal interest in them. The students then put on a concert with a variety of items.
Fr Rolandi then met Sr Elizabeth Pappu, of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM), who coordinates a first aid feeding service for 4000 families of the Turkana tribe in the territory of the diocese of Lodwar, in which the Kakuma camp is located.
At the end of his visit Fr Rolandi met and encouraged Salesian Brother Muriuki Njagi, the coordinator of the centre, and Fr Luke Mulayinkal, the Rector and in the afternoon returned to the Provincial House in Nairobi.
In the Kakuma camp the Salesians are doing a number of things. Ad well as the technical vocational school and working with the FMM helping the Turkana, they also run a daily oratory: games and other activities between 5 and 7 in the evening followed by the rosary evening prayer and a Salesian Good Night. A lot of refugees attend - children and youngsters mostly Christians but there are others from other religions A few days ago a young 22 year old Ruwandese whose parents have gone missing and one of whose brothers was killed began to attend the Salesian Oratory. He is not a Christians but he says he found some peace and comfort there.
Other activities of the Salesians involving the Turkana, involve digging new wells in the area and providing an education programme in 5 elementary schools inside the Kakuma camp.
The Sons of Don Bosco are also hoping to be able to re-open “Don Bosco III” – the third technical school inside the camp. It was operating between 2000 and 2007 when it closed following the repatriation of the Sudanese students who attended it and for lack of funds. “Now there are over 96,000 people in the camp and there is an urgent need to reopen the centre,” Fr Mulayinkal says. The Salesians are the only ones providing g technical education in Kakuma. The re-opening is being supported by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).