Christ yesterday and today; The Beginning and the End; the Alpha; and the Omega. All time belongs to him; and all the ages. To him be glory and power; through every age and for ever. Amen.
Blessing for the preparation of the Easter Candle
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!
Like last year we took a group picture on Palm Sunday. Our family has grown again. A year ago we had 15 children, now we have 21!
Innocent returned to us in mid-March.
He had been at St. Nicholaus for some time but then returned to his family for six months. Now his family asked us to take him again until December. Innocent is three and a half years old. He has cerebral palsy and needs a lot of care. But most of the time he is a happy child.
Mwesiga (5) and Kalokola (3) came a few days later. The brothers have a mentally disabled mother. The father died last year. Since then the children lived with the aunt and uncle of the deceased father. The mother has another baby. Both children are malnourished and delayed in their development.
During the first few days the children seemed a bit lost in our big house. They spoke only Kihaya, the local language. By now they have adjusted, are learning Swahili and are happy. They already know the names of their 19 siblings and many Mamas.
Editha and Edina, our twin girls who came to us in October last year, turned five. They have developed well in the past six months and are catching up. In February they were baptized along with Mtagwaba. Editha and Edina, Mwesiga and Kalokola share a similar fate.
Their mothers are disabled and were not able to care for the children which resulted in malnourishment and delayed development of the children. So many times I hear that women with disabilities have been raped. At present a disabled mother with a disabled child who attends our Outpatient Clinic is pregnant. Those women can neither care for themselves nor for their children. They should be cared for in a sheltered environment. But so far we can only take in their children.
Two more requests to take in disabled children are pending. Soon we will have reached our capacity limit of 25 children.
Since Christmas we have celebrated many farewells, welcomed visitors, volunteers and new caregivers. Four caregivers left. In their place we received two new Sisters and some lay employees. Three of the four volunteers finished their time with us and returned to Germany. Katharina and Anna-Lea will stay with us until mid-August. Saying Goodbye is sad but it is part of life. Because we were short of space, we added an extension of two bedrooms. Now we can accommodate an additional caregiver and have a spare guest room.
We also cleaned out one room in the Outpatient Clinic and fixed it as a chapel / prayer room. The room is not big, but it is a haven of peace where one can retreat to in the midst of all what is going on. This is necessary because the church in Kemondo is two miles away from our center.
This takes me to the good news that our Bishop announced that Kemondo is becoming a parish! So far we were a sub parish of Kagondo, now we are “St. Francis of Assisi Parish”! This wonderful development is the fruit of the hard and tireless work of Sr. Anne and the Franciscan Sisters who have been in Kemondo for 15 years now.
Feast days, baptisms, birthdays, farewells… It is nice to take a break from the daily routine with little celebrations. However, given the fact that there are so many of us at St. Nicholaus no celebration is “little” anymore. For Easter we plan to divide into two groups of 10 children and 8 adults each. We will hire a bus because our old truck threatens to break down under the weight of this big family. We are in the midst of the rain season and are hoping not to get rained out during our Easter celebration.
In July I am planning to come to the US with my two daughters Aisha and Anita. I am looking forward to seeing many of you again.
Wishing you happy Easter, Stefanie Köster, the caregivers, volunteers and children of St. Nicholaus