Kenya trip immerses students in faith, service and passion for life

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Home > Media > News > Kenya trip immerses students in faith, service and passion for life
Kenya trip immerses students in faith, service and passion for life

An immersion trip to Kenya has seen seven St Virgil’s College students return to Tasmania with experiences of service, faith and being present to others.

Travelling to Nairobi, Kenya as part of the semester-long unit Service and Immersion Studies, the students spent time with pupils at the Mary Rice Centre, a school for children with disabilities located in Africa’s largest slum, Kibera.

The St Virgil’s students participated in games, learning activities and free play with the Mary Rice students, as well as helping serve and clean up after the two meals students receive each day.

They also took part in the inaugural Mary Rice Centre Walkathon – a 14km walk through Kibera involving more than 1000 people to raise awareness of the children and the school, as well as launching a fundraising initiative to continue to support the school.

As well as visiting a number of other schools and ministries operated by the Christian Brothers in Nairobi, the students also visited an elephant sanctuary, giraffe centre and exhibition of Kenya’s traditional dwellings, the Bombas.

Director of Development at St Virgil’s College Mark Waddington says that the Immersion, a part of the college’s Religious Education program, looked at the call to serve others and Jesus’ example of servant leadership.

“The major learning for [the St Virgil’s students] has been the connection they have made from standing in solidarity with fellow human beings. People who have a difficult lot in life but who are happy, inspiring, hard-working, family-focused and faith-filled.”

Putting their experiences in the context of faith, the group began and concluded each day with prayer and spent time in the evening reflecting on Catholic Social Teaching.

Encountering the Catholic faith amongst the people of Kenya, the student’s attended a Mass at St Michael’s Church in Langata which Mr Waddington described as “an amazing two-hour Mass with singing, dancing and celebration”.

“… [The boys] were swept up in the music, dance and positivity of the congregation – we were warmly welcomed by parishioners.”

Mr Waddington said the students were “overwhelmingly positive about the experience and how much they had learnt”.

“The trip enabled me to see people for who they actually are,” 16 year old student Sam reflected after returning to Tasmania.

15 year old Tadhg said he expected to gain a sense of how lucky he is to live in Hobart.

“Whilst I am grateful, I learnt so much more about the Kenyan people and I envy their positivity, faith and happy outlook. They may not have much materially, but they are rich in spirit and have an incredible passion for life.”