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

Rathgar –Friends of Kyuso  


Pictures from St Patricks School Construction

Our Visit to Kyuso, March 2010

Sandra Lawler, Eugene Hillery, Ronan Davy

Rathgar parish, inspired by those in Dalkey, Bray and Cabinteely, set up the Rathgar Friends of Kyuso partnership in April 2007.

Kyuso is a rural village about 5 hours east of Nairobi and another 2.5 hours over rough terrain east of Kitui, the diocese’ main centre. Kyuso covers an area 70km by 50km, has about 100,000 people, but only 4000 or so are in Kyuso village. The average income is €1.20/week. It’s mainly a pastoral area, with locals irking a living on the rearing of goats, cattle and poultry. Kyuso, like many other areas in Kenya has suffered badly from the lack of rains in the last 3 years.


In Rathgar we’ve been fundraising for almost 3 years and have raised €175,000. We’ve run 3 very successful concerts in Rathgar church, with the Three tenors, Phil Coulter and Rebecca Storm. We’ve run coffee mornings and benefitted from the kind and generous donations of many parishioners. Fr. Lavelle, our parish priest, visited Kyuso in November 2007 and since then we’ve been keen to go back to really see for ourselves what Kyuso was like and understand what they really needed most. So finally in March 2010 3 of the 4 committee members- Sandra, Eugene and Ronan- decided to make the long awaited trip out.


We travelled to Nairobi and were collected by the Kyuso PP, Fr George and Acothy the Kyuso Parish Chairman. There, 5 of us piled into a fairly basic car -no 4 wheel drive- and headed off through the manic traffic of Nairobi (not for the faint hearted) and over the rough, untarmaced terrain to Kyuso. 5 hours later we arrived, glad to stretch our legs and take in Kyuso.


We spent DAY1 there looking at our projects already completed... we visited some water wells we’d built with the local communities- they provided labour and some materials- we provided the technical expertise and water pumps. The wells look basic enough but provide water for 200-300 people each, saving them form long treks to find water. In one case families (mothers) had previously to leave their kids at 10pm, trek overnight to get water to be back in time for the children the next day. We’ve built 12 wells and 10 are under construction and we hope to build many more in the next 3-4 years.

Kyuso & Kitui March 10 021.jpg

Next we visited some beneficiaries of our recent goats project- mainly the most needy women in the parish. The goats not only provide a source of milk for their families, but when they’ve kid goats they can sell them on in time of need. We met some women who had the “Rathgar goats” although politely declined their offer of fresh (warm) goats milk! We plan to continue the goats project now, giving 5 goats each to 70 new families. 

We overnighted in Kyuso mission, staying with Fr George and enjoyed the novelty of no electricity that night and a lack of running water. We marvelled at their hospitality... even though we didn’t pick up the courage to eat the roast goat’s liver offered to us! Above all we loved sitting outside that night looking at the clear starry sky, listening to the sounds of our very rural setting.


On DAY 2 we met the parish council, with whom we discussed the short and medium term needs of Kyuso and agreed what the priorities were for them.  Most important for them is the building of a new primary school, the goats projects, continuing our water well project, sponsoring kids in primary and secondary school and the purchase of a small pick-up truck to facilitate the movement of grain, goats and perhaps more Rathgar visitors some day! We saw the posho mill we’d bought and the photocopier- both successful income generating projects.

Kyuso & Kitui March 10 027.jpg

The highlight of the trip was visiting the Kyuso Mission primary school- St Patricks. We were greeted by 82 impossibly smiley children, many of whom had never seen a “Mzungu” (a white person) before. They squealed in delight as we came into the classroom, with some of the little ones asking if they could touch our skin! Seated in front of the kids we beamed with delight as they sang and danced to a selection of songs they’d prepared for us both in English and in Kamba, their dialect. We’d brought sweets, balloons, books, hair ties, coloured pencils and markers and they were delighted. Fr George reckoned our visit to school that day would be the talk of the school for months to come. 

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After our visit to Kyuso we travelled 3 hours back to Kitui diocese where we stayed in comparative luxury at the Kitui pastoral centre. We’d our own toilet and own (basic) shower and felt as if we were in the Hilton!In Kitui we met up with Aidan Corless, Diarmuid Murray and Fr Arthur o Neill from Cabinteely. They were out reviewing the progress of an enormous school they’re building there.                       We were really impressed by what they’ve achieved!


Over the next 2 days we met with the people who will make implementing the projects possible- the development team who support water wells and construction, the education team, the finance team. We reviewed our budget with them, and Diarmuid, who luckily is an ex-Deloitte man. All was in order and we were pleased to see that all funds sent to Kyuso had gone, without exception, to where they were intended.

It was great to make contact with those we’d been communicating with by email or text before that, and to really understand how the systems work. Leaving, we felt reassured that those in Kitui would facilitate getting our Kyuso projects completed efficiently and cost effectively.


The 4 days spent in Kyuso and Kitui were really worthwhile and inspiring. It made the 5 hour trip back to Nairobi worthwhile. It even calmed us down when Virgin Atlantic cancelled our flight home, delayed our departure by 17 hours and ensured we missed our connections in London, despite a 30 minute red faced race from terminal 3 to terminal 1! 

Ah well, back now in Dublin all that remains in our memories is a fantastic, really inspiring trip to Kyuso, where we were honoured to meet positive, dedicated people, focusing on making Kyuso a better and fairer place to live. We are delighted to help them on that journey and we know we will learn from them and benefit hugely from our partnership with them for years to come. We thank Pat Torpey and Aidan Corless in particular for sharing their learnings with us and helping us find our way. 

Sandra, Eugene and Ronan

Kyuso & Kitui March 10 100.jpg

“Rathgar- Friends of Kyuso”- A Partnership with Africa

Rathgar parish have established a long-term partnership with Kyuso parish in the Diocese of Kitui, Kenya.

Kyuso is a very remote Parish, with great needs. It has a population of 80,000 and has 20 out-stations. Kyuso faces many problems such as famine, water shortages, and the consequences of HIV/Aids. It has significant educational and medical needs. The average income for many living in Kyuso and the surrounding out-stations is €1 a week.

The partnership with Kyuso was launched in November 2006. Since then through various fundraising events in Rathgar Parish and in particular with the Three Tenors Concert in November 2007, over €110,000 has been raised.

This is being put to excellent use, working through the existing structures in the Diocese of Kitui, of which Kyuso is part, and working closely with the hard-working, voluntary parish council in Kyuso.

For the coming year, we would like to develop the junior school facilities in Kyuso, re-furbish the very basic Church which is currently constructed with mud bricks, and continue our support of income generating women’s groups.

Our current support for Kyuso is concentrated in the following three areas:

Basic Infrastructure Projects

Income Generating Projects

Support for schools and education

Basic Infrastructure Projects

Water Wells:

In many parts of Kyuso, women may have to walk up 20 kms everyday to fetch water at the height of the dry season.  For less than €2000 we can sink a borehole for domestic water and make a real change in the day-to-day life of the community. 

€1,600- €2,000 per well

We have built 6 water wells in Kyuso and the surrounding area with the participation of the local community. As of August 16th, four are fully working and two nearing completion. A further 6 water wells are in train to be completed by February 2009. 
Easier access to water has many benefits. Not only does it improve health, but it also frees up time which can be spent on crop cultivation or some other income-generating activity.

For more information on Friends of Kitui's water projects click here

Kyuso parish celebrated St Patrick's day 2008 in style, and dedicated the celebrations to their partners in Rathgar. Click on "St. Patrick's Day" on the left to see the photo record of the day. Second-hand car for parish use:

We have provided the parish priest of Kyuso with a second hand car and an ongoing contribution for petrol to allow him access, say mass and visit the sick in far flung out-stations around Kyuso.

This will cost  €3,500-€4,000

Income Generating Projects

Bee Keeping/ Goat Rearing

Targeted at women, these are self-sustaining projects, which have been rolled out in other parishes and countries in Africa, with much success.  We have funded a number of womens’ goat rearing projects. Several goats were distributed allowing more than 30 families the means of generating some income for themselves

€2,000 per project

Friends of Kitui already runs a number of projects for the Empowerment of Women - for example the Honey Project which provides beehives to give women an additional source of income for their families.  

Posho Mill  

We have bought a Posho Mill (flour grinding machine) for the parish, allowing the community purchase cheaper un-ground flour. This machine can also be rented and generates income for the parish


We have bought a photocopier for the parish- another income generating tool. It is intended for  parish/ locals use. Charged by the page also, for self financing 


Other projects 

Sponsoring Secondary School Education

We have sponsored 12 children for secondary school education for the year. This includes their education, lodging and food.

€500 per child covers board and education for 1 year
Sponsoring Higher Level Education

We have funded one promising student  through university in 2008.


Primary school children Kitui.jpg (79765 bytes)

School Children in Kyuso

Plans for 2009

In 2008- 2009 we plan to continue the development work where it is most impactful:

We would like to develop the junior school facilities in Kyuso, which currently has 100 pupils. We would like eventually to develop it into a boarding school- given the high percentage of orphaned and hungry children. The first phase will be to build five classes: Nursery, Standard 1-4, classrooms and administration block. Dormitories will follow in phase 2.

We also wish to re-furbish the very basic Church which is currently constructed with mud bricks and we wish to develop further 8 semi-permanent out-station facilities.

We will continue our support of income generating women’s groups such as the goat rearing projects. We will support 15 such groups, each with 30 women. 450 households will benefit as a direct result.

Please get Involved!  We would love you to join us in any of these projects. We see many benefits in your involvement-

  • It will benefit another Christian/Catholic community, less well off than Rathgar

  • It will encourage Christianity through action

  • It will allow us involve various groups, of all ages and interests within the parish, including many parish members who may not have had an opportunity to get involved in other parish activities

  • We will all learn from the vitality of African Church

How you can help? 

  • Join or lead a temporary fundraising group for just as long as it takes to raise the project funds. The amounts shown above are not high in today’s Ireland. Come up with great ideas to raise the funds, implement it…and make a real difference!
  • Make a donation to the general Kyuso fund or to a specific project. 100% of any monies you donate will go directly to Kyuso. Funds for the Diocese of Kitui will be routed through Trócaire, without deduction of any administrative costs or expenses.  Contributions qualify for charitable status tax relief.
The response of the parishioners of Rathgar, and other friends, to our appeal for support for Kyuso has been phenomenal. We have now raised €110,000 since April 2007. This was achieved through private donations, small and large, and by fundraising events, such as the Ladies Club cake sale which raised €6,000! That's a lot of cakes! The Celtic Tenors Concert, held on November 23rd 2007, was a resounding success. Fr Paul Lavelle, just back from a visit to Kitui and to the parish of Kyuso, welcomed the audience to  the concert, which was compered by Miriam O'Callaghan, and told of the conditions he witnessed at first hand in Kyuso. Fr Paul pledged to undertake a number of badly needed projects in the coming months.
Please send any donations, in a clearly marked envelope, to the Church of the Three Patrons, 49 Rathgar Rd, Rathgar, Dublin 6, or place your donation in the safe at the back of the Church. 

You can also make a direct lodgement into the Rathgar/ Kyuso account: AIB Terenure Road East, sort code: 93-10-71, account no: 35707124. Cheques should be made out to “Rathgar -Friends of Kyuso”.


Friends of Kyuso Committee: Eugene Hillery , Sandra Lawler, Ronan Davy or Mary O'Rourke by e-mail: friendsofkyuso@gmail.com

Or contact Fr Paul Lavelle at 01-4971058 or

Rathgar Parish office at 01-4972215.