St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Center
by Russ Brine
Maryknoll Lay Missioner Russ Brine recounts the story of a young girl in the slums in Northern Kenya.
“I have served as the Project Manager of the St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Centre in Kenya since 2005. This is a project of the local church and my colleagues are Kenyan teachers and social workers. The mission of the project is to rescue children from the streets, place them in schools and reintegrate them with their families. We are currently assisting 150 disadvantaged children and youth.
Joyce was admitted to the project in 2010, when she was eight years old. Her father is dead and she has been living with her mother in a slum camp for members of the Turkana tribe who have fled hunger and violence in the arid and desolate region of Northern Kenya.
Joyce’s widowed mother did not have enough money to buy the uniform and school supplies necessary to enroll her in school and Joyce was found idle in the slums by Odilia, a social worker from the project. Odilia has been working for over two decades in the slums and she knows the people well.
Joyce was prepared for school by our non-formal teachers at the project and she is now in the fourth grade at the public primary school that is within walking distance from the project. Joyce lives at the project during the week and she spends weekends with her mother.
Joyce shows strong leadership qualities and our teachers selected her to be the leader of our St. John Bosco traditional dance group that performs at various local venues throughout the year.
Girls like Joyce who come from pastoralist tribes often do not attend school and are pressured to marry young (even as early as age twelve). I am pleased to see that our teachers have chosen a girl for the lead position of our traditional dance group. I hope that this will inspire the other girls in our program and in the local community.”