This summer, 13 Vincentian volunteers traveled more than 7,000 miles to the Vincentian region in Kenya, East Africa, to serve the poor. For months leading up to the trip, the volunteers raised funds to cover the cost of their travel and to provide supplies to the people they would meet.

In June, the group made the long journey to Nairobi, and settled in at DePaul Centre, a Vincentian house of formation that served as the group’s headquarters. During the school year, the facility houses seminarians studying for the priesthood. The center offered the volunteers a comfortable place to meet, sleep and come together for meals and prayer during their visit.

From their headquarters in Nairobi, the Vincentian missioners traveled up to 27 miles each day to parishes, schools, outstations and a nearby slum to meet the pressing needs of the poor. Early in the trip, the group traveled to Nderu village in Thigio to serve a family in need. When they arrived, they learned that the grandmother was blind, the daughter was HIV positive and several generations lived together in a small shack. The volunteers spent the day building a base for a new cement floor and painting the exterior of the structure. They also provided funds for the family to purchase furniture for their home.

“In their work, the Vincentian missioners witnessed the great poverty, and remarkable joy, found on the streets of Nairobi and the other towns they visited.”

The volunteers also ventured into the Kibera Slum to work at St. Vincent’s Rescue Center. They painted the facility inside and out. Later in the week, the missioners helped paint DePaul Primary School in Kamulu and delivered much-needed supplies and furniture for the upcoming school year.

In their work, the Vincentian missioners witnessed the great poverty, and remarkable joy, found on the streets of Nairobi and the other towns they visited. Many people in Kenya struggle every day just to survive. For the volunteers, however, it is not the desperate living conditions that stand out most. Despite the suffering, people there are full of gratitude, hospitality and joy. The spirit of St. Vincent is alive in Kenya, and the Vincentian volunteers contributed to that spirit through their prayers, sacrifices and selfless service.