Kenya: Archbishop calls on Kenyans and refugees to live in harmony
28 June 2009

Archbishop Boniface Lele greets attendees of World Refugee Day in Nairobi. (Angelika Mendes/JRS)
“Do not to be discouraged by your present circumstances but be encouraged by the knowledge that God loves you and cares for you."
Nairobi, 28 June 2009 — JRS in collaboration with Nairobi Archdiocese Refugee Assistance Programme, Faraja Trust of Kenya and Africa Refugee Programme Great Lakes commemorated World Refugee Day with a Eucharistic celebration. It took place at Divine Word Parish, Kayole which is one of the parishes in Nairobi where JRS provides assistance for new arrivals and asylum seekers. The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Archbishop Boniface Lele who is the Vice Chairman for Refugees, Migrants and Seafarers in the Kenya Episcopal Conference.

It was a lively celebration which was attended by a huge number of refugees who fully participated in the liturgical activities. Refugees from different nationalities led prayers of the faithful in their own local languages, praying for the African continent, for peace in their home countries, for the church, the families, the well being of fellow refugees and the sick. The refugees also offered symbolic gifts during the offertory, such as crafts, a map of Africa, different flags representing the refugees’ countries and two doves as a sign of peace which were released immediately.

Finding hope in God

During his homily, Archbishop Lele encouraged refugees and Kenyans to live in harmony. “Do not to be discouraged by your present circumstances but be encouraged by the knowledge that God loves you and cares for you,” he said. He asked Kenyans to continue being real neighbours to the refugees since they too might find themselves in similar circumstances in the future. He further suggested that Kenyans should organise themselves in order to assist refugees financially especially those who may be willing to go back to their countries.

After the Mass, refugees and Kenyans together with the Archbishop, the parish priest and the invited guests from various agencies assembled at the parish hall for entertainments which had been organised by various refugee groups. Traditional dances, poems and a skit with the theme “Respecting Strangers: Replacing Fear with Welcome” by the parish youth gave an impression of their various talents.

By the end of the day, the plight of refugees had become clearer to the Kenyans present and refugees had had the opportunity to come together and spend the day as a united family.

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