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The average per capita income in Kitui is less than €2 per day

Bray Parish Twinning Project

Bray Parish, Co Wicklow, celebrates in 2008 the 25th anniversary of it's partnership with Ikanga in the south of Kitui District, and is currently (Summer 2008) evaluating several proposals for a suitable  project to mark this occasion.

The Parish twinning Project was started in 1984.  Fr. Paddy O’Reilly, a friend of Fr. John O’Connell, was working in Ikanga Parish in Kitui, Kenya in East Africa, and seeking help to develop the church and community in Ithumulla district in the Parish.  Fr John provided what help he could, and suggested the project to the Holy Redeemer Parish Council.

The Parish Council set up a sub-committee to run the Project.  Since then Bray has been in regular contact with Ikanga, mainly by correspondence, but with occasional visits.  The priests of St Patrick’s Missionary Society (the Kiltegan Fathers) have been responsible for the parish until recently, and they would always visit Bray to thank us for our support, whenever in Ireland on holidays.  In 1994 four members of the committee visited Ikanga (at their own expense) and there have been several other visitors from Bray over the years, including Fr. John, and Sr. Denise.


Ikanga Parish is located in Kitui, about 130 km East of Nairobi.  It is approximately the same area as County Wicklow.  The total population is about 40,000 (roughly the same as Bray town) of whom about 4,000 are Roman Catholic.

Ikanga is an extremely poor district.  Crops are totally dependant on the rains, which fail regularly every few years.  Transport is difficult as most of the roads are dry river beds.  Fr. Tony Malone, who was Parish Priest when the Twinning Project started, generally used a rather old motorbike to travel around the Parish.  The only car in the parish at the time was an aged Ford Anglia (remember the vertical back windows?), which served as ambulance, delivery truck, or bus, as needed, and when the rains permitted.

The people of Ikanga are mainly of the Kamba tribe.  They are a pastoral people, gentle and dignified, and generous and caring, and very fond of music and dancing, which they include in their Liturgy.  Masses are never boring, even when they last up to three hours, as happens on major feasts when everybody turns out in their finery to celebrate their membership of Christ’s Church.

The Church in Ikanga

There are six Catholic stations spread throughout the Parish, and two of the churches there were built using funds from Bray.  In the earlier years Bray paid for catechists, who taught Christian Doctrine, and organised the liturgy on Sundays between the Priest’s visits to the stations.

Fr Tony Malone, from Clare, was Parish Priest, the only priest in the Parish, when the Twinning Project started in 1984.  A tall gentle giant, Fr. Tony visited Bray several times.  Sadly, Fr. Tony died last year.  Fr. Barney Conway, from Sligo, Fr. Pat Kelleher, from Cork, and Frs. Dominic Kamwilwa (the first native Kenyan appointed as Parish Priest), Charles Kitheka, Bernard Masila, Nicholas Maanzo and Nicholas Ngulutu have also worked there.  The current Parish Priest is Fr. Richard Kyenze.

Another Kiltegan Father, Fr Paddy O’Reilly has served as diocesan administrator in Kitui for many years, and he too has visited Bray

Holy Redeemer’s Involvement

During the early years of the project, the emphasis was on developing the Church in Ikanga.  Funds from Bray, when not needed for famine relief, were used mainly for  salaries and books and teaching materials for Catechists.  Travel conditions make it impossible for one priest to attend every station every Sunday, or even every week, so there is a great emphasis on local involvement.

In recent years there has been a greater emphasis on educating the local people towards self-reliance, rather than encouraging dependence on foreign aid:
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day;
teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.

Kenya, like many of the nations of East Africa, does not have medical facilities that are in any way comparable to what we are used to in the developed world.  In recent years the problems have been multiplied enormously by the scourge of AIDS, leaving many children orphans and without prospect of gaining an education to improve themselves or their communities.  Currently there are over 50 children, boys and girls, depending on funds from Bray to provide secondary and technical education.


Each year the members of the Twinning Project run two major fund-raising drives, and several smaller ventures to raise about 7,000 punts (8,900 Euros) needed each year in Ikanga.

The envelope collection, in March, and the sale of Christmas Cards throughout December, raise about 4,000 punts.

The smaller, but no less important, sources of funds for the project are:

·      Donations for Shamrock outside the Church on St Patrick’s day,

·      Donations from the children of St Patrick’s and St Cronin’s schools,

·      Occasional table Quizzes, Music Evenings, Cake and Jumble sales, and Coffee Mornings.

Twinning is a two-way relationship, and it is important to be aware of Ikanga’s contribution to Bray.

While funds are essential, it is also very importance to maintain an awareness of the project among the parishioners of Holy Redeemer, so that our sisters and brothers in our Twin Parish are not denied the joy or the dignity of making their contribution to our mutual development.

Will you help?

Work with the Twinning Project is:

·      challenging,

·      worthwhile,

·      rewarding,

·      and FUN.

We are constantly looking for new members, new blood, new ideas, new enthusiasm.

Anything that you can do to help will be appreciated.

For I was hungry
and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty
and you gave me something to drink,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was a stranger, and you invited me in,
I was sick, and you looked after me.
Contact Information:

Pat Morrissey  patmorrissey@eircom.net