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Barrhead Churches Kibera Project


Welcome to the website of the Barrhead Churches Kibera Project. A partnership was set up to establish a working relationship between the Christian communities of Barrhead, Scotland, and Kibera, a slum township in Nairobi, Kenya.

In June 2006 eight members of Bourock Parish Church, including the Minister, three elders and four young members, visited Kibera, in particular meeting with members of the local Presbyterian Church East Africa, (PCEA) and visiting projects run by the charity ‘Vision Africa’. The trip was an emotional and life-changing experience for all the visitors.

In 2008, six members of PCEA Kibera visited Barrhead; this group included the then Session Clerk, the Church Secretary and four youth members.

As well as experiencing many firsts; leaving Kibera, flying, meeting snow (at Xscape!), visiting Edinburgh Castle, and the seaside at Largs and Millport, this visit gave us the opportunity to strengthen our partnership. The visitors also went to Dundee and attended the Annual Women’s Guild Rally and speak to delegates at the National Youth Assembly.

The Barrhead Churches Kibera Project became a registered charity in November 2010, with Barrhead Bourock as its parent charity.

The Covenant between the members of Barrhead Churches and PCEA Kibera was signed on Sunday 2nd January 2011. In Barrhead, it was signed during a Joint Service, held in the then Barrhead Arthurlie Parish Church, now Barrhead St Andrew’s Parish Church.

It is our aim to help Kibera Parish develop some of the projects that we visited, and to set up a long term plan that will not only help the people of Kibera, but also benefit and enrich our own community here in Barrhead.

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In 2006, 8 members of our congregation visited Nairobi, Kenya. As well as visiting the Seed of Hope charity, which members of our Junior Church and Bourock Friends Group support, they visited the local Presbyterian Church, P.C.E.A. Kibera Parish. They met with the then minister, Rev. Samuel, some elders and members of their congregation. Following this visit, we were inspired to establish a partnership between Barrhead and Kibera, and so set up the African Partnership Committee. This committee oversaw the fundraising to help establish a Secondary school in the grounds of PCEA Silanga.

Six members of PCEA Kibera visited Barrhead in 2008. As well as experiencing many firsts; first time leaving Kibera, travelling on a plane, experiencing snow (at Xscape!), a castle at Edinburgh and the seaside at Largs and Millport, this visit gave us the opportunity to strengthen our partnership.

Silanga Secondary School

These are the original school buildings:

Construction of the new secondary school at Silanga began on Monday 6th April 2009.

The new school was dedicated on 25th July 2009, and open ready for the new autumn term.

Below are the students using the new science equipment.

The photo below shows PCEA Silanga Centre as it is today. The Sanctuary is the building towards the right, with the cross on its roof. To the left are the classrooms of the Secondary School. The building facing, in the centre, is the library and original Science Lab.

The photo below shows the rest of the site; this time the Sanctuary is on the left, the Nursery School building is next and the new Science Lab is on the right, nearing completion.

The building below is the V.C.T. centre – which stands for Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre. It is a small office, part of the OVC Program and open to the whole community. It is an initiative adapted from the Kenyan Government to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. The VCT is a means of helping members of the community to get to know their HIV/Aids status, and to receive counselling. Counselling before and after testing is mandatory.

PCEA Silanga are liaising with Government Health Officials in order to receive official approval. Mercy M. Bauni, the current OVC Programs Manager is also a Community Health Worker and will be working closely with Gilbert Ochieng, who is a Nurse by profession and who is in charge of the Child Development Centre at Silanga (A Compassion International supported project.)

The VCT centre is situated at Silanga and is part of the project that The Church of Scotland HIV Programme are currently supporting.

Thanks to the tremendous support at our recent Auction and Balloon Race events, we were able to complete the fundraising for the new toilet block and water tanks ahead of our goal! The money to begin construction was forwarded to the Kirk Session of PCEA Kibera Parish Church during July 2011.

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The Land

Kenya lies astride the equator, on the east coast of Africa. It is a land of great contrasts, rising from sandy costal beaches to the snow-clad summit of Mount Kenya, from which the country gets its name. This extinct volcano is the highest free-standing mountain in the world and the second highest in Africa at 17,058 feet or 5,199 metres.

The People

The country is over twice the size of the United Kingdom, but has only half its population. Its principal port is Mombasa and its capital is Nairobi, which has a population of nearly 2 million.

Almost the whole population of Kenya is of African origin, with small groups of Arabs at the coast, Asians in the towns, and Europeans, also mainly in the towns. There are seventy different African tribal groups divided by language and culture. The official languages are Swahili and English. The largest tribes are the Kikuyu in the central highlands, and the Luhya and the Luo in Western Kenya.

Kenya has a high rate of population increase at 2.9% per year. Over half the population is under 15 years of age, with only 3% of the population over 60. Over 80% of the people live in rural areas.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is widespread. It is estimated that two and a half million people are living with the disease, and 890,000 children have been orphaned as a result.

The Economy

Kenya has few natural minerals. Agriculture is the mainstay of its economy. The chief cash crops are coffee, tea, sisal, and sugar. Staple crops include maize, millet, peas, beans, bananas, and tropical fruits. Stock raising for the supply of milk and meat is important. Manufacturing industries were introduced after World War 2 and products include meat and fish preparation, chemicals and petrol- refining, textiles and vehicle assembly. In the rural areas, most African families live on their own small-holdings or farms, where they mostly support and feed themselves by subsistence farming.

The unit of currency is the Kenyan shilling, divided into one hundred cents. One hundred Kenyan shillings are worth less than one pound sterling.

Christian Mission

In 1891 Scottish missionaries landed in Mombasa and then proceeded inland to open a station at Kibwezi, which is midway between Mombasa and Nairobi. In 1898 they moved to Kikuyu, 15 miles west of Nairobi. In 1908 they opened another station at Tumutumu, just south of Mount Kenya, and then in 1916, established Choria on the eastern slopes of the same mountain. At each of these places, the Church of Scotland established evangelistic, educational, and medical work.

Other missionary societies followed in their wake further up-country and in due course, local African Churches were established by all these missions. The Church which arose following the work of these Church of Scotland missionaries was called the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA).

The Presbyterian Church of East Africa

In 1956 the PCEA became independent of the Church of Scotland. It now has its own General Assembly with a Moderator who serves for three years. The assembly is responsible for the administration of the Church, its schools and its hospitals.

The PCEA ordained ministry is now fully Africanised, but the Church of Scotland continues to provide and support educational and medical staff for PCEA institutions, as they are requested.

Kenya’s Main Religions:-

Christian 66%

Muslim 6%

African Traditional 28%

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Kibera Parish

The Presbyterian Church in Kibera began in the early 1950s, and for the next twenty years moved from one temporary building to another. On the 18th of February 1971 the first of Kibera’s two Presbyterian Churches, Silanga, was established, and was officially opened on 5th February 1972 by the Rev. G. Gikanga.

The second Presbyterian Church to be established in Kibera started out in 1974 as an outreach centre for the main Presbyterian Church in Nairobi - St. Andrews. They called this new centre Emmanuel. After several years of hard work enhancing spiritual growth and improving the required infrastructures of the outreach centre by local Church members, the Presbytery of Millimani approved a request to upgrade the Emmanuel Centre to full parish status. This was made official on 13th March 2005 when Rev. Samuel Machugu Kariuki became its first session moderator.

Both congregations of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) in Kibera currently serve a total congregation of 600 adults, 80 youths, and also 150 children in their Sunday schools. These congregations include some of the neediest people living in the slums of Kibera. More than 80% of Church members are unemployed. Those who are employed earn between 1500 and 3000 Kenyan shillings a month (£11-£22).

Due to these low-income levels, the congregations have not been able to actively thrive, as they face a daily struggle to even feed their families. Most of the young people of the Church are affected by the lack of employment opportunities and many are out of work, making them a liability rather than an asset to their already poverty stricken families.

Although the Church in Kibera has many diverse needs and wants, they are spiritually rich, and if their needs were met it would be possible for them to achieve their vision of growth and development, for their Church and community.

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Over the years, newsletters have been produced to inform on how much progress is being made with the project. The link to take you to the “DropBox” folder for these newsletters can be found below.

The Latest Annual Reports can also be found using the “Reports” link.