On the First Sunday of Advent, we launch our Annual Christmas Appeal for Queen of Peace Primary School for Girls, our parish outreach project in Lodwar, Kenya. The generous donations of parishioners, amounting to €172,866 since 2011, have helped give these girls the gift of education, which enables them to break out of the trap of poverty.
Our 2020 Christmas Appeal raised €16,585.
This video shows some of the recent school projects we have helped support.
The photo on the left shows Fr Fergus with Bishop Dominic Kimeng’ich in Nairobi in August 2016, giving him our summer contribution of €5,290. Total donations from our parish since 2011 amount to €172,866
The school is developing very well, as Bishop Dominic outlined in his November 2020 email:.
“I wish to take this opportunity to thank you and the Parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish for supporting our school Queen of Peace Girls Primary School during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kenya, like many other countries, have been affected by the virus. The virus has distrusted learning in our schools. All our schools were closed since March until recently when those preparing for national schools were allowed to go back to school.
For Church schools like Queen of Peace that do not get government funding, it has been a very difficult period. The big challenge has been paying the salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff. Many such schools have been unable to operate and have opted to close for good.
Thanks to the donation that Queen of Peace received from your Parish, the school has been able to pay the salaries of the teachers and some essential staff members.
Thank you so much for the great support from the faithful of your parish. We can truly see the fruits of their generosity.
It was a joy to see how much has been achieved already and to be able to assist in the ongoing development of this wonderful project.
Our initial donation was in fact the catalyst for launching the construction of the school.
Fr Fergus stayed with Bishop Dominic and also met Fr John O’Callaghan, a Kiltegan missionary from Kilmallock, who has been very involved in the execution of the project and Mr Tony Woods, from Doon, the diocesan administrator.
The visit of Fr Joseph Ekalimon, Vicar General of Lodwar Diocese, to our parish in June 2013 further cemented our links with Queen of Peace School. Fr Joseph spoke at all weekend Masses expressing the gratitude of the people of Lodwar for our support. He also highlighted the need for this project: the provision of quality integral education for young girls, who tend to be overlooked due to shortage of resources. We are very pleased to be able to lend our support and we have an ongoing commitment to this worthy cause.
The ongoing generosity of our parishioners is giving a welcome boost to this very worthy project and helping these young girls to have a brighter and better future through the empowerment that access to education will give.
The diocese was set up in 1978, and was an Apostolic Prefecture for the previous 10 years. It has a long association with Ireland – over 40 years:
- Its first Prefect, and then Bishop, was Bishop John Mahon, a Kiltegan missionary from Killurin near Tullamore, Co Offaly.
- He was succeeded in the year 2000 by Bishop Patrick Harrington, SMA from Kilmeague, near Naas, Co Kildare, who retired in 2011.
- The present bishop is Bishop Dominic Kimengich, a secular diocesan priest and a native Kenyan. He studied in Rome with Fr Fergus. Some of you met with him when he visited our parish briefly in Spring 2011.
Turkana a Deprived Area
From a development perspective, Turkana comes last of the 46 districts in Kenya and only 6% of the population are in paid employment. The diocese has been making a huge contribution to the spiritual and material welfare of the people of Lodwar. This district has one of the lowest levels of literacy in Kenya despite the introduction by the government in 2003 of free primary education. There is demand for education, but a shortage of facilities.
Poor access of Girls to Education
The construction of Queen of Peace Primary School for Girls is an initiative by the diocese in the context of a culture that gives less preference to girls than boys to attend school. Only 2 of the 17 primary schools in Lodwar are for girls and these are unable to cope with the huge number of girls seeking admission. This difficulty of access to primary education has various implications for girls:
- Low transition to secondary level education
- Exposure to early entry into the workplace and early marriages
- And, in the long term, poor social and economic advancement.
This YouTube video gives some background to the project. See especially comments of Bishop Dominic at 2’52”.