The idea for a rescue center began some time ago when the Brothers became very concerned about the number of children roaming the streets of Bungoma, Kenya. The center officially opened on December 3, 2016, also the Feast of St. Francis Xavier. A Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Father Christopher Wanyonyi of the Diocese of Bungoma. Among the invited guests were local administrators, street children, representatives of the local government and Brothers. The Xaverian Brothers will manage the rescue center. The Brothers welcomed fourteen boys to the center on January 4, 2017.
The children coming to the center will be from the streets of Bungoma, where they have been orphaned or abandoned by their families due to poverty, illness, or not being accepted by their stepparents. Some have run away from abusive situations. Life on the streets is short, hard and brutal. Taking drugs or sniffing glue carries the child out of the desperate, hard, real world into the realm of illusions and hallucinations. In the streets, children get by through begging, stealing, and scavenging through the rubbish.
While reading the Winter Concordia in early 2016, John Heinrich, Mount St. Joseph class of 1965, and his wife Ginny, became aware of the many critical mission needs of the Brothers. Later that year after learning about the leadership giving opportunities of the Theodore James Ryken Society, the Heinrich’s joined the Society as founding members and asked that their leadership gift be used to support the Rescue Center in Kenya. John and Ginny shared with us why they decided to support this project: “Many of these children have been abandoned and abused with virtually no hope for a normal life. As grandparents we could see no greater act of Christian love than to support this effort to save these vulnerable and innocent youngsters.”
John and Ginny Heinrich meet with Brother Edward and Advancement Associate, Stephanie Stricker, to discuss the plans for the Ryken Centre for Hope and their leadership gift to support the ministry.
John and Ginny said that they support the Xaverian Brothers because, “The Xaverian Brothers have been extraordinary role models who have dedicated themselves to living out the message of the Gospels every day. We believe their selfless mission work throughout the poorest places in the world merit the support of all who believe in Christ’s teaching to help those in need in whatever way we can.” We are very grateful to John and Ginny for their faithful support over the years and for their generosity to the new Theodore James Ryken Centre for Hope.
The Theodore James Ryken Centre for Hope is and will be a refuge center that opens up new ways of life for the children. The center’s focus is rehabilitation. Boys from the streets will be brought in, undergo an assessment to establish why they ended up on the streets, and then rehabilitated for six months. If possible, they will then return to their family, if appropriate, or be transferred to a children’s home.
The center is focused on becoming self-sufficient. We currently have a borehole that supplies the center with clean water for consumption and domestic use. Most of the essential items needed for the center to run are in place – the management, kitchen, bedrooms, and washrooms. None of this would have been possible without our generous supporters.
During his recent visit to Louisville, Brother Edward Driscoll met with Deacon Scott Haner and his wife JoAnn who are supporters of the Xaverian mission effort in Kenya. Scott is a 1976 graduate of Saint Xavier. He and JoAnn have been on mission trips to Kenya, the most recent being for the water project in Kibera, an extremely poor area of Nairobi. Scott and JoAnn are now among the founding members of the Theodore James Ryken Society supporting the Ryken Centre of Hope which ministers to street kids in Bungoma, West Kenya.
Scott and JoAnn video chat with Brother Raphael Wanjala.
Scott, JoAnn and Brothers Cornelius Hubbuch, Rodney Sulzer, Dan Conaghan and Harry Eccles were able to talk with Brother Raphael Wanjala in Nairobi thanks to FaceTime
JoAnn and Scott talk to their friend, Brother Raphael. While visiting the Brothers in Nairobi, Scott and JoAnn prepared an Italian meal that the Brothers are still talking about.
The Theodore James Ryken Mission Society was established this year. It enrolls individuals who want to be engaged actively in the mission work of the Brothers in Kenya, Congo, Haiti, Bolivia and the United States. Members of the society are encouraged to participate actively in the life of the Congregation. For more details, please contact contact our Advancement office by email or telephone at 410-644-0034.