John Lange’s Ministry in the Nairobi Slums

Chaplaincy, Slums, and Water

by John Lange

I am chaplain to the Little Sisters of St. Francis in their Regional House and Spiritual Center in Kasarani, Nairobi. I am very happy in this work. The Sisters have been wonderful to me. They spoil me and I love it.

My duties, so far have been very light. Morning Mass from Monday Through Saturday. On Sunday the parish priest comes here for an outstation Mass. That leaves me free to continue my 8-year ministry in the Mukuru slums of Nairobi where I usually have two Masses.

During the week, I keep busy by visiting the slums and following-up on several development activities. In the slums I have 11 community health workers from 3 villages who double as social workers. Together we distribute vouchers for free medical care to the poorest of the poor who would otherwise have no medical care. We pay for about 140 people at 3 Church-run dispensaries and about 70 people at 4 mission hospitals. Our bill for an average month this year has been about $6000. There are 250,000 people in Mukuru slums.

As for the development projects, I am assisting 200 family farms in Kiganjo near Nyeri, in the Sagana Maganjo Water Irrigation Project. It is run by the people themselves. We have purchased 8 miles of pipes, have built three 50,000 gallon water storage tanks. We expect to see water coming out of the pipes in the farthest farm before the end of 2001. The big aim is to enable the farmers to finish-off the crops which almost make it in June. And to irrigate 1/4 an acre in the dry season where they can grow vegetables for retail.

I have helped the Assumption Sisters of Kibagare in Nairobi to get a borehole, pump and power unit for pumping the water. They have 1000 boarding students in their grade and high school and feed several hundred children from the neighborhood each day. They need a lot of water and are really struggling. People in the Mua Hills are waiting in the wings for me to finish these projects. They have boreholes from the British Colonial times which they want to revive so they can get water for human need and their animals. It’s a very dry area and they are really struggling to get water this year.