Dear Friends and Supporters of St. Nicholaus Children’s Center Kemondo!
On Saturday, December 7th, we celebrated our patron St. Nicholaus. Actually St. Nicholaus came on time on the eve of December 6th, but because this day happened to be the last day of school for our children including a big school celebration, we moved our celebration to the following day. Together with the Franciscan Sisters from San Damiano Mission, friends and supporters from our parish we celebrated Holy Mass in our living room. As you can see on the picture above, this year our two youngest were acting as St. Nicholaus.
By now we have 18 children. The twin girls Editha and Edina came to us in the beginning of October. Their mother is mentally challenged and could not provide for the children. The twins are four and a half years old. However, they are very much delayed in their development. Editha is more like a one and a half year old child and Edina like a 3-year old.
Together with Chiara and Agnes we now have four cute little girls ranging in age between two and four years old. They like to take control over the house in the morning while the older children are in school! The children are the best therapists for each other. Within a few weeks Editha has learned to walk because she wants to keep up with the others. Who knows how much fun she would miss otherwise?
Our nine school children are on break now for five weeks. The new school year will start on January 13th. This time all children passed their exams. Annajoyce who has Spina Bifida had to repeat last year was now awarded a gift from the school for being the best student in her class!
Overall, our children have made good progress this past year. Maria, our oldest, turned 17. Chiara, our youngest, is two. Mtagwaba who is four years old and has cerebral palsy just learned to crawl and has started to explore his world. Asimwe has celebrated her first Holy Communion.
We thank all of you for your faithful support. Without your support our work at St. Nicholaus would not be possible.
Please remember our children and caregivers in your prayers.
All of us from St. Nicholaus are wishing you merry Christmas
and God’s blessings for the New Year 2014!
our two youngest as St. Nicholaus
Happy New Year
Mtagwaba has discovered his shoe
the children discovered the treats in their shoes
Supper during Advent
Magdalena is making cookie
Heartfelt Greetings from the children of St. Nicholaus in Kemondo!
On September 17, 2013 we celebrated our second anniversary since moving into St. Nicholaus. In these two years our family has expanded from ten to seventeen children as you will see in the pictures attached to this letter. The children on the bench are sitting in the same order as they did two years ago. On the floor in front are the new children who have joined our family since we moved in. Unfortunately, one child is missing in the second picture.
We thank you so much for your faithful support. Without your help St. Nicholaus Children’s Center would not be possible!
Stefanie Köster and the caregivers and children of St. Nicholaus
The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world And that which contains all things
Understands what is said, Alleluia. (Wisdom 1:7)
Dear Friends and Supporters of St. Nicholaus Children’s Center Kemondo!
Much has happened in the past 50 days between Easter and Pentecost. Innocent and Elliot came to us in April. We now have 17 children. Innocent is almost 3 years old. He has cerebral palsy and does not talk. Elliot is turning 6 years soon. She has a mental disability. The only sentence she says in the local language Kihaya translates to, “Mama, make me pancakes.” Otherwise she loves to suck on her thumb. Both children cried a lot in the beginning. How else would they express the shock about moving to a strange environment? But by now they feel at home in our noisy house. They are laughing a lot and it is easy to love them. Elliot only cries now when we bathe her, take her to the toilet or brush her teeth… Activities she obviously has not been used to.
We are in the midst of the rain season. The good news is that our well and the rain water tanks are full to the top. The down side is that in the past two weeks many of our children have been sick with Malaria and a cold. I should mention though that Malaria is as common in Africa as a cold is elsewhere. We take every child that has fever to the doctor and have the child tested and treated for Malaria. As soon as the fever is down, the kids run around again. Malaria is simply a part of life here in Africa.
Many supporters of St. Nicholaus have shown special interest in Asimwe. Asimwe is 13 years old and has a very rare skin disease caused by a genetic defect. Her entire body is affected, her skin is very sensitive and she easily hurts. It is also very disfiguring. We had her skin biopsies tested now three times by dermatologists in Tanzania, in Germany and finally in the USA. The sad news is that some medicines might improve her situation slightly but ultimately there is no cure for her. This recent news has upset us. In my Easter letter I mentioned that we had been warned against attacks on Christian Churches. We had plenty of rain on Easter but nationwide all remained calm and uneventful.
Unfortunately, on May 5th a bomb exploded during Holy Mass in Arusha (near Mount Kilimanjaro) and killed three people. The Nuncio to Tanzania was present as well as bishops, some 40 priests and more than hundred religious sisters and a large group of lay Catholics had gathered for the opening of a newly built church. The similarities between the Boston bombing and the bombing in Arusha are striking. But the bombing in Tanzania did not make international headlines (see article HYPERLINK „http://stealthconflicts.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/boston-yes-arusha-no-thank-you/“ http://stealthconflicts.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/boston-yes-arusha-no-thank-you/ ).
Since last year Tanzania has seen a rise in sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims. However, this is only true for a small minority of people in the country. In general, followers of different religions have lived peacefully together in Tanzania. We continue to pray for peace.
Right in time as we are celebrating the birthday of the church our new Bishop Desiderius Rwoma visited us Kemondo for the first time. He also came to see our children at St. Nicholaus. I was rather surprised when he expressed his wish to ride in our “Bajaja!! A Bajaj is a motorcycle made in India. It has three wheels and a bench in the back. I use it for going back and forth within Kemondo since it is very economical (see pictures).
Since the arrival of the new bishop we have experienced many changes in the Diocese. Many priests have received new assignments. Likewise we had to say farewell to Father Vedastus who has lived with us and ministered to us in Kemondo for 17 years. He has been our friend and spiritual director. Fortunately for us he was transferred to our main parish in Kagondo, so he remains close in the area. His successor is Father Justus. He is a young priest and he is very motivated. He already visited us at St. Nicholaus and promised to return with the seminarians and to work in our “shamba” (field)! We are delighted!
The picture at the beginning of this letter shows our children who are singing and dancing at the farewell celebration of Father Vedastus. Together with the caregivers they wrote a little song and made up a dance. I was very proud of them when they performed in front of the parish!
We wish you the Holy Spirit of Pentecost,
Stefanie Köster and the children and caregivers at St. Nicholaus Children’s Center
The children of the Hebrews, carrying olive branches, went to meet the Lord, crying out and saying: Hosanna in the highest.
Dear Friends and Supporters of St. Nicholaus Children’s Center, We, the children and caretakers at St. Nicholaus are sending you our heartfelt Easter Greetings!
Holy Week has started. Our children are looking forward to a break from school. The last few months of school were very challenging. Magdalena is in third grade and comes home from school at 6 pm. The other children are busy in the afternoons with tuition classes to keep up with the school work. Holy Saturday we plan to color eggs with the children. Easter Sunday we will stay home. There have been rumors that Christian churches and institutions will be a target for some fundamentalists, so we decided to delay our Easter celebration for a few days.
All of our 15 children are well. We are expecting the arrival two new children in April: Elliot is five years old and is mentally challenged. Innocent is two and a half years old and is both mentally and physically affected. We still have room at our center. Most likely we will receive more children before the end of the year. The decision whether to receive a child depends on the child’s family situation.
Our work at the Outpatient Clinic aims at supporting and strengthening families with disabled children. There is a great need to help parents of disabled children. Many times, the parents do not know what is affecting their child, where to get help and if they get medical help, how to pay for it. Part of our work is to accompany parents to the treatment until they can follow up on it by themselves. Many times we help to pay for the medical bill and also for the transportation costs to the hospital. This ministry is important so that the children may remain in their families.
In March two young women from Germany visited us. They did an internship as part of their education to become occupational therapists. Our children always enjoy the extra attention they receive from volunteers.
We in Africa are excited about our new Pope Francis and the Diocese of Bukoba has a new Bishop, Bishop Desiderius Rwoma. We will officially welcome him on April 7th. Our former Bishop is going to retire in the same parish as St. Nicholaus is located.
Wishing you all happy Easter,
Stefanie Köster and Children