Students return from life-changing trip to Kenya with CAFOD

Pupils from two Catholic schools have returned from a life-changing trip with CAFOD to Kenya, where they saw how sport is offering many young Kenyans a lifeline out of violence and poverty. Jessica Park, Harry Hick, and Londwa Dlamini, from Oaklands Catholic School in Waterlooville, Hampshire and Dan Burke and Sam Griffiths from St Columba’s College in St Albans, Hertfordshire, have all been involved in their school’s fundraising for CAFOD, which supports programmes in urban and rural communities in Kenya.

The students visited St John’s Sports Society in Korogocho, a slum town in the Kenyan capital Nairobi which houses 200,000 people in area of less than a square mile. The society offers young people a safe haven where they can take part in activities like netball, football, and boxing clubs. The students also joined in with classes at the local St John’s School, helping some of the younger children with their work.

Oaklands School and St Columba’s College struck up a relationship with St John’s Sports Society in 2011 when four of their students visited the project. The schools have stayed in close contact with the Society ever since, hosting visits last year from Abdi Rauf Dima, one of their young Karate stars, and Fr John Weebotsa, the local priest who runs the club.

During their visit, Jessica, Harry, Londwa, Dan and Sam handed out awards to the Society’s most promising students at the opening ceremony of a new gym and cultural centre which will be used by St John’s members as well as other Korogocho residents, including a young group of budding classical musicians.

Londwa said: “My time in Kenya, seeing the wonderful work that CAFOD does, has been an eye-opener. Korogocho is right next to Nairobi’s 30 acre rubbish dump and it’s devastating to see so many people living and working so close to it. Despite this, the people who live there give thanks to God for the simplest things and seeing this has given me so much strength, I am determined to continue to campaign and fundraise when I return home so that their lives may be better. Nelson Mandela said, “Sometimes it falls upon a great generation to be great”; I truly believe that we can be that generation.”

Dan Burke said: “The people of Korogocho are so down to earth; they are some of the nicest people I have ever met. It’s both inspiring and encouraging to see that having a safe place to play sport – something we often take for granted in the UK – is making such a big difference to young people in Korogocho. St John’s motto is ‘pamoja tunaweza’ which means ‘together we can’. Organisations like CAFOD show that, if we put our minds together, if we work together, we really can make a difference to people’s lives.”

Fr John Weebotsa who runs St John’s Sports Society commented: “The support we’ve received from Oaklands and St Columba’s through CAFOD means the world to this community. Because of this support we have been able to build the new St John’s Sports and Cultural Centre which will offer a space where young people can train, receive counselling, and talk about the difficulties they face in their lives. The whole community will benefit from this space. To CAFOD supporters in England and Wales I would like to say thank you – your help really is changing lives, it really is making a difference.”

Tags: CAFOD, Dan Burke, Fr John Weebotsa, Harry Hick, Jessica Parker, Kenya, Korogocho, Londwa Dlamini, Oaklands Catholic School, Sam Griffiths, St Albans, St Columba's College, St John's Sports Society, Waterlooville

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