Seventeen people from across The United Church of Canada participated in the Mission & Service Global Pilgrimage to Kenya, from from March 25 to April 4, 2017. The pilgrimage visited Mission & Service partners throughout the region. This series of blog posts shares the story of their journey.
It was Monday April 3, 2017 when a group of pilgrims from The United Church of Canada visited programs run for Mission & Service partner, the National Council of Churches of Kenya in the urban refugee camp in Nairobi and the Huruma Clinic. Upon arrival, we toured through part of the Huruma Clinic witnessing the care given by the doctors and nurses who are serving both refugees and the local Kenya community.
One group of teen and young adult refugees met with us to share their stories. They fled the war in their countries. Whether it was because they were raped and had to flee or because their parents went missing and they feared for their life or because they were ostracized by their community. We sat and listened to each of the nine people share their story and how they ended up in Nairobi in search of something better. Each sharing a different but similar story that they have now found themselves working as sex workers.
One woman shared that she was married in her home country of Uganda and had one child. After being raped by a group of men, she became pregnant and because of this, her husband left her. This experience left her, her child and her unborn baby ostracized by her community forcing her to flee her country. She fled to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya. Knowing that she wanted more for her children, she left the refugee camp for a better life in Nairobi. Unable to find employment she works as a sex worker to support herself and her children. Because of this, she soon found herself testing positive for HIV.
It was at this time that she found the Huruma Clinic, which operates in one of the toughest areas of Nairobi. The Huruma Clinic is operated by the National Council of Churches of Kenya (a Mission & Service global partner of The United Church of Canada). This clinic offers testing, medical treatment, counseling, support groups, safe sex instructions and supplies. Through conversation with the clinic, it was wonderful to hear that they have had ZERO cases of HIV transmission from mother to child.
After the time of sharing, I had the opportunity to chat one on one with this young woman. I was amazed at how much hope she still has, hope for herself, hope for her children and hope for a better tomorrow. She told me that she just needs to persevere, to know what she is doing is not good for her and her children but she has to provide. She is very thankful for the Huruma Clinic and all they provide, she realizes that without this clinic, she would not be here today to watch her children grow.
With hope and perseverance, the support of the NCCK and the Mission & Service of The United Church of Canada, this young woman and many others will be able to live to watch their children grow up and find a better life for themselves.
—Milton Ross Sherwood, Maritime Conference