If we must specify the firm pillar of propagation and empowerment of the missionary work in the African continent, then undoubtedly we will refer to the Holy Diocese of Nairobi, Kenya.
The man who envisioned and founded this work was the late Makarios III, Archbishop and President of Cyprus.
The facilities of the Holy Diocese of Nairobi were constructed in 1958. In the same year the incumbent bishop of Nairobi, Makarios, received an invitation from the late Archbishop Makarios III to become a teacher and later on undertake the management of the Patriarchal School of Nairobi. He was then still a young layman. Nowadays, Bishop Makarios of Nairobi is a worthy continuator of his predecessors and does great missionary work all over Kenya, which includes: 400 parishes, 350 priests, 30 medical centers, nursery schools, 30 primary schools, 18 secondary schools, orphanages, a College of Education and a Patriarchal Seminary.
Another program of great importance is the food program for orphaned and indigent children, which provides them with breakfast and lunch and also covers the tuition fees for their education with a monthly sponsor contribution of 20 euro.
As Bishop Makarios says, the two main poles for the outreach and propagation of the Orthodox Missions both in Kenya and all across the African continent are the Patriarchal Seminary and the College of Education. The priests and teachers that graduated from these, staff the parishes and schools all over Kenya and other African countries. Nowadays, the Orthodox faithful in Kenya amount to one million.
In August 2019, together with Petros Trikoupis, an undergraduate student of Agriculture, we received the rich and warm hospitality of His Eminence in Nairobi on the premises of the Holy Diocese.
We had the honor and joy to accompany him on his journey all over Western Kenya. Our itinerary included visiting Nakuru, Kisii and Kisumu and the villages nearby. We visited their parishes and we met many people, warm, unassuming, affable and friendly.
Along with Petros, we examined many locals with ophthalmological problems in mudhut-churches, and helped them with portable equipment, eyeglasses and medicinal drugs. After our tour, we also examined people at the Diocesan Medical Center in Riruta.
As regards Bishop Makarios of Kenya, we have come to realize that he has been a very influential person in the field of Orthodox Mission.
- an affectionate father to many orphaned and indigent children whom he attends every step of the way: their childhood, their education, their coming of age, their personal happiness, their children’s fruition and generally, all their life development.
- a tireless prelate who regularly travels all over the country, having close relationships with his parochial priests (who were previously his seminarians) and teachers, as well as the Orthodox faithful. He is highly esteemed, respected and accepted by the people of Kenya.
- a professor and at the same time the director of the Patriarchal Seminary with great and important bibliography.
- a cordial host, an unassuming man with a great heart dedicated throughout his long service to ministering to the problems and needs of his people.
When our journey to Kenya came to an end, we felt as if we had been taught a great lesson!
Therefore, after these teachings, one can easily realize that happiness in this world is neither unreachable nor far away from us.
All we have to do is reach out and touch another person’s hand, or simply smile at someone and we get another smile in return. All we need to do is open our arms, and we receive a wide-open embrace.
If we realized that such simple movements could make the whole world vibrate, all misery and war on this bedraggled planet would disappear.
When human vanity peaks in structures such as that of the highest skyscraper in the world, it is because we do not realize that real heights can only be found in the humble and giving hearts of human beings.
These are the heights that please the heavenly world and give cause for a great celebration up there…
Catherine Alexandrou Ophthalmologist, Board member