Showing posts from July, 2011

Update from SF Maryknoll Affiliates, now Lay Missioners, Pat and Ilona Helmholz

Kenyan Human Rights
June - July, 2011
Dear Family and Friends,

Pat’s Notes: Last December, I was asked by the Catholic Diocese of Kitale to be the Development Coordinator for an existing Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) funded by governmental, private, and faith based organizations.

The ministry focus is within the North Rift Valley, an area that has been known and characterized for its infamous banditry, cattle rustling, bloody feuds, political neglect and underdevelopment. Disputes and differences are further complicated by minimal routine interaction and communication between the warring communities and the absence of institutions for conflict prevention, mitigation, and response, particularly at cross-border levels.

The justice system in Kenya is expensive, bureaucratic and extremely unpalatable to the weak and ignorant in the society, and North Rift is one such area of concern. There exis…

Famine in East Africa Update from Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns

Severe food crisis grips East Africa
July 25, 2011

See the Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) website for additional articles on this issue.

East Africa is facing the worst food crisis in 60 years. Across Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya, between 10.7 and 12 million people are in dire need of food, clean water, and basic sanitation.

The United Nations warns that the humanitarian crisis has already degenerated into a famine in the Lower Shabelle and southern Bakool regions of Somalia and that it could get worse. Drought, a major cause of the crisis, is compounded by insecurity, lack of aid and food price inflation.

A famine is declared when at least 20 percent of households face extreme food shortages with limited ability to cope, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition exceeds 30 percent and crude death rates exceed two deaths per 10,000 people per day.

But, according to IRIN, naming a food crisis a famine does not legally require action in the way that announcing…

Great movie: Of Gods and Men

Eight French Christian monks live in harmony with their Muslim brothers in a monastery perched in the mountains of North Africa in the 1990s. When a crew of foreign workers is massacred by an Islamic fundamentalist group, fear sweeps though the region. The army offers them protection, but the monks refuse. Should they leave? Despite the growing menace in their midst, they slowly realize that they have no choice but to stay… come what may. This film is loosely based on the life of the Cistercian monks of Tibhirine in Algeria, from 1993 until their kidnapping in 1996.
When I was recently back at the Maryknoll Center, I had the opportunity to watch this movie with the community.   It's a great "mission" film about what it means to live out the Gospel is difficult situations.