Retreat at Mji wa Furaha: 7 - 11th April 2010
Some ninety young adults from Nairobi and different provinces of Kenya took part in a four days retreat hosted by the brothers of Taizé at Mji wa Furaha. Among the participants were also young people from Tanzania, Germany, Romania and France.
The theme of the retreat was ’’In the light of the Resurrection’’. Participants were invited to attend each day the three daily times of prayer with the brothers. Bible meditations, personal reflexion in silence, sharing in small groups were the main elements of the daily program.
A small sharing group
Workshops on different topics: ’’how to read the Bible’’, ’’to meet and serve Christ in the poor and elderly’’, ’’living from God’s call’’, ’’living as a refugee’’, ’’working with street children’’, ’’theatre, society and faith’’... were animated by different facilitators (Little Sister of the Poor, volunteers, social workers, and refugees from the Great Lakes region). On Sunday morning the participants were invited to share in the morning celebration with different local Christian communities: Queen of Apostles Parish of Ruaraka, Nyumba ya wazee, Sisters of Mother Teresa, St John Korogocho.
Encouraged by the response and the excellent participation of the young people, the Taizé brothers will facilitate other retreats for young adults in August (10th-15th) and December (8th- 12th).
Traffic on Tika Road near the brothers’ home
The group of young people from Dandora invited us to a prayer. They meet together every Sunday to share about their week. Arriving from the terminus you have to cross the crowd of spectators surrounding the stadium where a match is starting. Twenty metres away, under an open tent, an Akorino community is at prayer.
To come back, there is a shortcut which avoids taking two or three matatus (a kind of taxi) and the Sunday evening traffic jams. Gerald shows me the way through the maze of alleyways up to the edge of the rubbish dump. There, a landscape of dunes, covered in plastic bags, opens up. The ground is elastic. On the path people in their Sunday clothes are chatting, two strides away from herds of pigs rummaging in the mud. Once past the river, we cross the Lucky Summer district, a huge building site where life has already become established.
From all sides, people are going quietly home, children in their Sunday clothes, bright dresses with traditional scarves or suits and more sophisticated hairdos. People recognise and greet others. I bump into Japhet who is coming home from his commercial course, then Peter who is delighted with his month’s holiday. Children are playing marbles in a gutter, using stones or pieces of coloured glass. With great seriousness, they measure the gaps to decide between players. Sitting on the ground, a mum grills the corn cobs that are eaten at all hours. Men are moving the benches from the church, which has another use during the week. Songs are still rising from another church where the prayer is still going on. In the shed of the “In Christ Power Centre”, the prayer is now replaced by the showing of the ‘Match of the Day’. It’s no longer the local championship, but the English Premier League which is in favour with the fans. For 30 shillings you can vibrate with spectators from the whole world whilst watching the match between Chelsea and Manchester United.
To get to the service at Kiambu, a three hour walk offers a magnificent outing. It’s a Sunday morning but, nevertheless, the Chinese have been at work since before 8 o’clock. Machines are levelling, watering, pounding the rock… After leaving the express way and the Chinese, we have to cross the popular districts of Zimmerman and Kahawa. On board the matatus, religious songs replace the usual pop songs, the churches send out the first songs of a morning which will be fervent. Elsewhere activities are underway. Groups of Sunday builders are bustling about on the little sites. The houses are built at the mercy of the finances at the time. On a bit of stony ground or next to a river a few youngsters are energetically soaping vehicles. Two buckets, a little detergent, a rag and a placard are the only investment needed to set up a “car wash”. Driving a clean car is as important as the care of one’s clothes. Dust and mud ensure a regular clientele for these youngsters.