Update from SF Maryknoll Affiliates, now Lay Missioners, Pat and Ilona Helmholz
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 exists case back logs in our courts due to limited personnel and corruption in the judicial system. For example, West Pokot with a total population of approximately 500,000 is served with 1 magistrate, 4 courts clerks and one court. Some of the court clerks are inefficient and/or incompetent. Poverty levels are high and the majority of the people lack access to services of the lawyers. More so, members of the public are ignorant about the law with 66% of them illiterate. In 2004, the Diocese of Kitale recognized a need to help and created CJPC.
The overall objective of CJCP is to promote and enhance a culture of human rights and social justice that empowers citizens to hold state institutions accountable and uphold the human dignity of all. Specific objectives to accomplish this include 1) strengthening the capacity of citizens to demand for accountable governance of state and non-state actors at all levels, 2) improving access to justice by demanding accountability of justice actors, 3) improving citizens participation to influence policy and legislative reform, formulation and implementation. In short, CJPC helps build capacity and advocates for justice in support of the most needy.
The Commission consists of twelve professionals, most of them paralegals, and all skilled in various forms of crisis counseling and related advocacy. Although the work is demanding, the staff’s underlying faith in the worth of their mission provides them with necessary strength to continue taking small steps forward in service to the poorest of the poor. Please pray for them.
Thank you for the support we continue to receive. May God’s blessings be with you.
Love, Pat and Ilona
June - July, 2011
Legal name: Maryknoll Mission Association of the Faithful, Inc
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