Jesuit Father Terry Charlton Shares an Update from St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya
More than one million people live in Nairobi’s squatter community of Kibera, including 30,000 orphans of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In October, National Jesuit News highlighted the work of Jesuit Father Terry Charlton, co-founder of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a unique Catholic high school designed specifically for young people affected by HIV and AIDS in the Kibera slums. Fr. Charlton recently shared with us an update of the initiatives taking place in Kibera:
World AIDS Day, December 1, 2011
I write to you with a great deal of joy in my heart as we mark the completion of another school year at St. Aloysius. We are grateful to all of you who have supported us in every way through this year. It seems that, each day, we take a small step; it is easy to neglect to look back and consider what has been accomplished since our modest beginnings in 2004. With our 59 seniors, who have just finished their month-long final exams, we have graduated just short of 300 students. Nearly all have continued on in the graduate program with community service for six months and sponsorship for college. We expect to have our first graduates receive their Bachelor’s degrees in 2012.
In 2001, we reached out to those whose needs we saw were the greatest – the people living in Kibera slum who were dying of AIDS. We asked them how we could help them. They all asked us to take care of their children. Today, with your important partnership, their children, now orphans, have been given an opportunity and hope for a high school and college education and a life far beyond their parents’ dreams. Thanks to your financial support, your prayers, and your willingness to share the story of St. Al’s, our students have hope and aspire to live the school motto “to learn, to love and to serve”.
For the fifth consecutive year, Margaret Halpin and Charles DeSantis of Georgetown University taught art classes to interested St. Al’s students. As always it was a wonderful opportunity to develop talent and to find outlets for creative expression. Again, this year Kuona Trust offered us a gallery where students were invited to exhibit their paintings to the public.
As the year draws to an end, we celebrate some of the many accomplishments of our students. Some 30 St. Al’s students participated in the World Peace Day Competition for the countries of East Africa. Through competitions involving speeches, quizzes and skits, St. Al’s won the Fr. John Anthony Kaiser Peace Trophy (Fr. Kaiser was an American Catholic missionary, working in Kenya, who was martyred in the cause of justice). St. Al’s Head Girl and Junior, Sharon Sophy, was elected Deputy Governor at the Kenya National Children’s Parliament. Once again, our school drama group rose through the local and province levels to compete at the national festival. At a French competition involving many of the most respected schools in Nairobi, our students won the top prize!
In early December, we look forward to the construction of a well on our property so that we will have regular access to our own fresh water. The well has been funded by another grant from the American People through the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program and should be completed in time for the new school year in January, 2012.
Our website, www.sagnairobi.org has been updated and offers our original video (now also updated) to tell our story. I encourage you to take a look at it and share the video and website with your friends and family. We rely on the kindness and financial support of many generous people and with your help we can educate more AIDS Orphans in Kibera slum.
It was a great pleasure for me to spend more time than usual in the US this year and to have more time to interact with many of you. It was an even greater pleasure to return to St. Al’s with your encouragement about what we are accomplishing. I was greatly heartened by your commitment to ongoing financial support, even in the midst of the challenges of the world economic crisis. It is so good to have your support as we all work together to help the dreams of a better future become a reality for our high school students, graduates and their families.
One of my special joys this year – now that we have our beautifully furnished school chapel – has been to plan and celebrate a mass.
with each of the 8 classes at St. Al’s. Each occasion was uniquely inspiring due to the efforts each class made, first, to choose a theme meaningful to the group and, then, to develop it with Scripture readings, songs and symbols. Not one of these occasions passed without the students praying for you and your loved ones. As we enter into the holiday season and reflect upon God’s overwhelming love celebrated in the birth of Christ, our gratitude to you can only increase.
Terry Charlton, SJ
Additional Giving Ideas
Cost per student for one year…
$1,200 Tuition and fees
$130 Breakfast and Lunch
$30 Sports Kit
$25 School Uniform
$400 Salary and benefits for one teacher for one month
$125 Educational field trip for one
class of 35 students
To give to the St. Aloysius, please click HERE.