Vikki Smith

CITY: Nairobi
FOCUS: Education; Pastoral Ministry
PROJECT: education department coordinator, library coordinator of Christ the King Catholic Church-Kibera
PEOPLE SERVED: Approximately 1200 students; 47 teachers; and 17 school staff members; associated family members throughout the slum community of approximately 1 million persons.
GOAL: Provide formal and informal education and resource materials to school-aged children, young adults, school drop-outs; and, alternative education to teachers, parents, guardians and non-schooled youth living in Kibera slum.

Vikki was born and raised on the west coast of the United States, making her home for the past 40 years in the capitol city of Salem, Oregon. She has enjoyed several careers, having spent 30 years in law; pursued creative work as a professional photographer; taught English as a second language in Italy; and, for 5 years enjoyed volunteer work in Namibia and Ghana with the American Peace Corps.
Vikki has lived in Europe and traveled around the world to many countries experiencing different cultures and meeting a variety of people who have influenced and inspired her to pursue a ministry of service to the poor and marginalized.

Vikki is a Benedictine oblate associated with Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon. She lives by the rule of St. Benedict which teaches one to balance good works with prayer on a daily basis, and when meeting a stranger to practice hospitality by greeting them as if greeting Christ. In striving to live this model, it was natural for Vikki to continue her work serving others as a missionary, particularly in Africa.

In 2003 when her Peace Corps tour completed in Ghana, she traveled to 13 countries on a spiritual pilgrimage for 3 months, praying and seeking the next phase of her life of service, Vikki returned home and joined Maryknoll Lay Missioners in 2005.

Vikki’s worked in Nairobi, Kenya, at Christ the King Catholic Church in Kibera, which is the largest slum in sub-Sahara Africa where almost one million people live at poverty levels. Through her ministry, Vikki aims to ensure that all students in her parish schools have access to an education which offers a full range of subjects taught by qualified teachers; that the students are provided an opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities in a controlled and secure environment; that they enjoy at least one meal a day; that they have access to library resources and materials to enhance their education and self-image; and, for the students in her vocation technology departments, that they gain skills to become self-sufficient.

Vikki is the education department administrator of 10 parish schools and vocational training centers, and she is the library coordinator for the only community library in Kibera which serves more than 45 educational institutions in Kibera. Vikki has found her calling by working among the needy she calls friends, and looks forward to serving the Kibera community-at-large for a long time to come, especially the teachers, students, and parents of the schools to which she administers.