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The long planned three day activity had long been awaited, and finally it had come to be, and was quite transforming. The Dominican youths organized a three day exchange program (an activity that involves two or more youth groups to foster partnership and sharing of common missions) in conjunction with St. Dominic Savio, (a youth group in the archdiocese of Nairobi -Our lady of Guadalupe parish) and Oriang’ youth movement- a group in Homa Bay diocese (Blessed Sacrament Oriang’ Parish) held at Oriang parish from 26 -29 August 2016.

Day One: With Love and Faith to Hope Home

We arrived at Oriang at 3:41am, having travelled overnight, and were warmly received by the Oriang youths. We headed off to sleep. At 6:00am we went in for the morning rosary .We then shared breakfast, a cup of tea and some “ngwashi”-sweet potatoes, prepared by the Oriang youths.

We left for Hope Home. A charitable organization founded by a couple that takes care of abandoned kids. It was quite a long walk and almost seemed like a pilgrim. One youth described it as “a pilgrim of love”. With moments of taking photos, cracking jokes and racing, the distance became shorter and shorter. In an hour and a half’s time we were finally there. Many had anticipated to find a very distinguished host but to their surprise the host disappointed them. She came simply dressed, with three children racing to grab her hands. She led us to her second home, the Hope Home.

We were welcomed again and we offered our gifts to the excited children. The host was more excited, expressing her true feeling on our visit. “It’s annoying that most of my visitors who come to play with the kids are white, does it mean no black cares!” she wonders.

As most youths go to play with the excited kids, a few remain behind to hear what set her and her husband to start a children’s home.

She leads us to her story. A professional teacher who abandons her profession, leaves the bustles of the city life moves to the rural Kenya to respond to the cries of the lil’ children from new born to those aged six. She says, “most children home want children from the age of seven because they don’t want to touch sh** or urine” she talks with a lot of emotion on the rising number of children that she is receiving that are HIV positive. ”children who you seem to know their fate and even possibly see how they gradually succumb to death.” she is keen to note that the children who are HIV positive go beyond her expectation as they live beyond her thoughts and that encourages her. 

The youths spent time with the kids who rarely get adult playmates. As if it were their last, the children are hopping here and there, eyes glimmering with longing for that moment to be eternal. The dog too took advantage of the chance.

Time couldn’t be lured by the beautiful moment and we had to be on our way back to the parish which was quite a distance. Then came the rain to sod the events and inspiration from the woman and her kids to the bottom of our hearts. We learnt much as Dominicans. Most members expressed the joy they got from interacting with the kids. It reminded us on the beauty of childhood. 

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Day Two: Planting the Joy of Christ

The day began with prayers and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:00am. Thereafter we had breakfast and proceeded to the main activity of the day- tree planting. We planted about 100 trees together as a team. We couldn’t pass off the fun that made us not see the heaviness of digging holes and planting trees. It was a beautiful moment, assisting one another, teaching one another, laughing at our own mistakes and encouraging one another. We had much to share and learn from one another. 

We then had a session for sharing on how we conduct our various activities as individual groups, how we live our missions and the challenges we face. The parish priest, Fr. Pius Odhiambo joined us and listened as we discussed. In the afternoon we had a second session where Sr. Miriam Musundi, a Teresian Carmelite who had accompanied us gave a talk on the role of youths in the church. 

Day Three: In Oriang’ With Love!

The last day was a climax. It began with a celebration of holy mass. The three groups participated in the liturgical dancing. We participated in celebration of the liturgy of the word as well. After the mass, St. Dominic Savio youth group and we (Dominican youths) jointly performed a play and a dance. Thereafter we had a luncheon with the parish priest and prepared to live

The whole event was a success. We were able to learn much from our counterparts and they had also gained from us especially from our four pillars and the Dominican charism. Our deepest appreciation to all members of the groups that worked with us. However, we would have wished to have the whole Dominican youths present in the future. 

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