AFRICA/KENYA - Flood disaster: Catholic Church collects donations for those affected

Thursday, 2 May 2024 floods   local churches   solidarity   pope francis  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - At least 188 people have died in the floods that have hit various areas of Kenya since March, according to official figures presented by the government in Nairobi. Another 125 people were injured, 90 are missing, and more than 165,000 people were left homeless. The death toll continued to rise on April 29 following the collapse of the old Kijabe Dam in Mai Mahiu, killing 45 people. The floods have so far submerged at least 27,000 hectares of farmland and 4,800 farm animals have died in the floods. The Kenya Red Cross has set up 59 camps to accommodate flood victims. The disaster also hit the education system hard: over 100 schools were severely damaged or completely destroyed. Vice President of the Kenya Bishops' Conference and Archbishop of Nyeri, Anthony Muheria, expressed the church's closeness in Kenya with the flood-affected people who are suffering the "pain of loss" of their loved ones and their livelihoods. "Unfortunately, lives have been lost and many people are affected. Their houses, property and crops for those who had planted them have been swept away; even cows and goats have been swept away", Archbishop Muheria said in a message in Swahili released on April 28. The Archbishop called for solidarity and help for the victims of this tremendous tragedy: "That’s why we are launching this appeal so that each person gives anything that can help. Either mattresses, blankets, cooking pots, food, clothing — anything that can help the children or families that have been affected by the floods". "A little money, a little flour, even clothing... We are the good Samaritan, who meets the afflicted man on the side of the road", said the Archbishop of Nyeri. Archbishop Muheria's call was taken up by the Kenyan Catholic Church. "Next Sunday a collection will be held in all churches in the country for those affected by the floods," said Msgr. Charles Ndung'u, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Nyeri, to Fides. Help that is all the more necessary as "the rains continue and the population affected by the floods lives in fear and terror," adds the Vicar General. At yesterday's general audience, May 1, Pope Francis recalled the suffering of the Kenyan populations affected by the floods: "I also wish to express to the people of Kenya my spiritual closeness at this time as severe flooding has tragically taken the lives of many of our brothers and sisters, injured others and caused widespread destruction. I invite you to pray for all those affected by this natural disaster. Even amidst adversity, we remember the joy of the risen Christ, and I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you!". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 2/5/2024)