the Amani Centre

 
When you first arrive at the Amani Centre after driving from the airport and through downtown Nairobi, it can be a little overwhelming. The Amani Centre is best described by me as a Catholic Hostel, with a chapel, kitchen, dining areas, and a spacious courtyard.
 

The team checks in here before seeing any of the slum areas or the work sites that they will be working in over the next few weeks. For most, the conditions at Amani seem difficult to cope with.

A shower that isn’t very powerful, and you are fortunate if you have warm water
 A simple bed, somewhat lumpy, with a pillow that is not the most comfortable.

 

 Contraptions that seem so archaic, and such meager furnishings….

 

But you soon come to realize that things such as running water, blankets, mattresses, electricity, plumbing, a door to your room….these are luxuries that most Kenyans will never know.

 

this is the boys room at Pastor Jared’s school. It houses about 20 boys, most of the beds sleep 3-4 boys each.

I had made a decision this year to try and experience as many different things as I was able. One of those was to attend the Sunday Catholic service held at the Amani Centre chapel.


Two team members attended last year, and I was excited for the experience this year. In the last clean t shirt I had, and my only clean Levi’s with torn holes throughout due to the work I had been doing, I entered the chapel with a few others from our group.

As we all sat together on a pew, you couldn’t help but feel all eyes upon us, but the feeling was one of welcome curiosity. As the hour and a half long service started, I realized that it would all be entirely in Swahili. It didn’t matter, as the spirit of the service was understood by all.

I’ve never been to a church service with such joyous singing, dancing, and praising. It was so uplifting. At one point, it was time to collect donations. Children came out with locked wooden boxes and stood at the end of each aisle.

Almost the entire congregation stood up from their pews and waited in line. As I sat listening to the clinking of schillings fall into the box, I wept.

How could these people, who literally work everyday just to have food to survive, donate what little money they had?

As they received their sacrament, all I could think of was that the wafer placed into their mouth would most likely be their only meal…..

As I was mulling these thoughts over, out of the corner of my eye I saw someone stand up from our row, and get in line. Jonathan.

I had just asked Jonathan and his wife Cynthia if they would like to join me the night before. They were very excited, and stated they would love too, but that their kids wouldn’t because that would probably be ” too much church for them”.

Jonathan is one of the most passionate men I have ever met. To see him in that line, head bowed, was such a humbling experience for me. After the donations were collected, the entire congregation turned to the people sitting next to them, and gave them hugs and/or shook their hands. I had old women, young children, everyone around me thanking ME for being a part of their Sunday service.

              Later that afternoon, at tea with some Kenyan friends, I was telling them about what happened in the chapel that morning. They were very touched, and wanted to see this place with me.

Jimmy

 

Kevin

I love the Amani Centre, A place of peace and humility. And also a great place with many hiding places if you like to play “Capture the Flag”

2 Comments

  1. Don't being going mad, i'm can't wait to read more about the other6 people on your list….

    Thanks for your support though.

  2. I was feeling very low and sorry for myself until I read your post. Made me ask myself what have I to be fed up about when other people live like this? My life is easy.

    (I may have gone mad and posted this twice)

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?