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Kitale, Kenya: A Lay Missionary’s Community Gospel Discipleship

The ‘Kitale Community Advancement Programme’ (KAP) under the direction of Associate Mill Hill missionary Jacinta van Luijk was originally started and run by the Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM) under the the name ‘Kitale Aids Programme’ (KAP).

KAP’s main objective is “To facilitate, promote and create innovative and sustainable educational and counselling approaches to mitigate the impact of societal breakdown, especially violence, abuse, trauma, addictions, HIV/AIDS and related problems and environmental degradation”.
Its main areas of interest are (A) Trauma Management, Prevention and Peace, (B ) Addiction Prevention, Community-Based Treatment & Referral, (C) HIV/AIDS Behaviour Interventions and (D) Comprehensive Recovery for Extra Vulnerable Youths. Care for the environment is integrated in all components.
KAP sees societal cohesion, community ownership, personal responsibility, true commitment and therefore true voluntarism as vital prerequisites for healing and defeating violence, trauma, addiction, HIV and restoring environmental damage. KAP’s work is based on a strong and practical spirituality with an ecumenical and interfaith character.

Two powerful testimonies from the ‘Unreached Youth’ programme:

Anne’s story.

When Anne was 16 years old she had a big quarrel with her materially poor parents and ran away from home. She had a girl friend who seemed to enjoy a very pleasant life, and Anne asked if she could move in with her, which was okay. Soon it became clear that the friend was well-off thanks to funds earned through prostitution and drug trafficking. Anne moved to a house in the neighbourhood which was rented by 14 girls engaging in these activities. She got a full nightly week-diary, and also started to use and trade in drugs herself: Bhang’, shisha, alcohol, cocaine. After two years she gave birth, and left the baby with her mother.

However sometimes her work was very painful, for example the time that her client came with three friends, gang-raped her and left her seriously wounded. During a recent visit to her mother the latter encouraged her to attend the KAP course. This was announced by the local chief. For one reason or the other she decided to give it a try. She told KAP’s facilitator to have been much touched by the lessons and sharings on HIV/AIDS, alcohol, drugs, violence and trauma. “No”, she told him, “I do not want to continue with this life anymore. I’ve had enough. You have taught me that and how I can say ‘No”, and I am determined to stop”.

Consequently she had herself tested on HIV, and deleted all contacts of her clients from her phone. She also went to live again at home with her parents. “But it is not easy”, she said to KAP’s counsellor last Thursday; “The withdrawal symptoms make me feel sick and weak. My sexual feelings are overwhelming. And I feel so terribly guilty about what I have done with my life, and that of my child and parents. I also miss my good meals now I only have beans to eat every day. And I have no idea how to bring up my child.” KAP’s counsellor is now helping her in addressing her many issues, step by step. He does so very committedly and skilfully.

Eliza’s story.

“I am Eliza, a form 4 student in Tuwani Girls. I want to thank KAP for its visit to us and the content they carried.

I had issues in my life, my father was jailed in a claim that he was engaging in trafficking of Albino people to Tanzania, a story that was aired in the national television. Stigma, discrimination, hate and all sort of abuse have been my life. We had split with my siblings who went to live with my relative upcountry, where they were also stigmatized being called children of a killer. I used to over-think even at school, no hope, I felt hated and punished by life all through.

Day after day of KAP’s workshop made my life transformed. The self-awareness topic was an eye opener. My self-esteem was uplifted, I gained courage to speak and share my issue to facilitators who were very caring and with fatherly love. I started accepting myself the way I am. Anti-stigma message delivered my attitude towards life.  I learnt that everyone has value if he/she is valued and values him/herself. The teachings were very encouraging to me and I really learnt a lot on how to relate with others socially, economically, and spiritually. I also improved my knowledge & skills on various aspects of life.

The working of behaviours process method was very helpful, and leant basic helping-talks skills on HIV and AIDS and feel I have been uplifted from one level of hope to another.

How I pray that God bless KAP very much and increase its capacity to reach and help many young people like me who are struggling with similar issues so that they are able to make rightful decisions in life.”

(The names used here are fictitious)

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