Today we arrive in Lodwar,
where the dry season poses a real problem for its inhabitants.
On October 8th our ACN delegation visited Lodwar, the largest town in northwestern Kenya with a population of 48,316. According to the Insider’s guide to Kenya, Lodwar’s history began around 1933 when a trader named Shah Mohamed, arrived on the banks of the Turkwell River. The roads were inaccessible so he brought donkeys. He eventually built a permanent trading center in Lodwar including a gas station. The district commissioner’s office was built, followed by a small medical clinic and a government prison. During the 1960s than missionaries built schools in and around the town.
The town had developed a reputation as an isolated outpost removed from the rest of Kenya, but in recent years, Lodwar has expanded and gained commercial and economic prominence. It is housing local and governmental facilities, including Turkana’s biggest health facility and the main referral hospital.
Lodwar covers a very poor and dry region without fixed roads and has a hot desert climate with very high temperatures and very little rainfall throughout the year. Though it is at the epicenter of the world’s largest underground aquifers, its residents experience intermittent water shortages leading to deaths of their cattle. The people here are predominantly nomadic. Everyone is waiting for rain – they haven’t seen any since the last rainfall in April this year.
Aid is urgently needed for these people. “We face many problems here due to the natural drought and the electricity cuts,” tells Dominic Kimengich, the Bishop of this huge diocese. Only about 35 percent of all citizens in Lowdar have access to electricity in their homes. It takes hours to get to the farthest outstations.
The Bishop hopes, that we will also help them with the formation of future priests and construction work at the pastoral center.
One of ACN’s successful projects visited by the delegation is the set up of Catholic Radio Akicha in the Northwestern diocese of Lodwar. Many people here live in small villages, miles away from, and isolated from one another. Thanks to the new radio station, which broadcasts their own programs including prayers, interviews and news, the people in the area are now connected to the local universal Catholic Church.
Warm thanks to ACN’s friends and benefactors comes from the Cloistered Augustinian Recollect Sisters also in the very poor and large diocese of Lodwar in Northern Kenya. These five Sisters – all of whom come from Mexico – have served the Catholic Church in Lodwar for several years now. “Thank you so much dear benefactors of ACN,” they said, “for the new host backing machine,” they say with a big smile on their face. Besides preparing hosts, they sew and stitch to support themselves.
With thanks to Teresa Engländer for text and photos, ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin ACN Canada