This Sunday’s craft market is the brainchild of Jade, who, along with her husband Peter and son James, is a member of our 9.30am congregation and kids ministry team. Jade is passionate about encouraging young people to put their faith to work by engaging with real-life situations where they can share God’s love in practical ways.
The high school members of our kid’s church chose the Anglican Board of Mission’s Disability Inclusion Project in Kenya as the focus for the market. This seems very appropriate in light of insights gained from the recent Paralympics in Tokyo.
As it happens, one of our 7.30 congregation, Samuel Kurien, grew up in Kenya. Let’s chat with him about that…
Samuel, you grew up in Kenya. What was that like?
Sensational & enormously satisfying and rewarding. While I was born in neighbouring Tanzania, Kenya, and Nairobi in particular, is where I lived & worked in the 80s and 90s prior to migrating to Australia.
I fondly & dearly remember my time in Kenya. Words like Jambo, Habari, Hakuna Matata, Karibu, Salaama, Muzuri, etc from Swahili was my second language. I worked with local Kenyans, had many African friends and loved their free spirit, love and generosity, despite their poverty & struggles. I ate their food, drank their brew and lived their way.
Kenya is a beautiful country, with probably the best weather in the world. From the Indian Ocean white sands of Mombasa to the sprawling national parks like Masai Mara abundant with incredible variety of the best wildlife on earth, from the plains & lakes in the famous Great Rift Valley and the hills & ranges around Mount Kenya to the banks of Lake Victoria. Unbelievable isn’t it? I got to visit & experience them all, spend time in numerous safaris and enjoyed what several tribes like the Masaai, Turkana, Kikuyu, Kamba, Kalenjin etc offered by way of culture & tradition.
Above all, Tanzania & then Kenya enabled me to grow up very close to God and the church. In Kenya, Mungu (God), Mwalimu (Teacher) and Dactari (Doctor) are valued, cherished, respected & listened to. Worship on Sundays followed by Sunday School is part & parcel of growing up and goes without saying, singing & literally dancing to hymns & Christian songs, inbuilt into the African DNA.
What is your favourite memory?
Without doubt, meeting my wife to be, Hilda, in my first job and then together building a relationship that has lasted more than 35 years. Hilda, by the way, is a born & bred Kenyan!
A close second would be spending ‘divine’ moonlit nights in the African bush, around a campfire with music, food & drinks, surrounded by deadly, yet friendly & accustomed, wild animals on many an African safari!
How would you describe the differences between life in Kenya and Australia?
What is it that Australia offers me? Lifestyle, freedom, independence, quality of life, things work systemically, there isn’t much inequality and people are judged on merit and achievements, not how much money they have. And I’m free to live my life on my own terms, away from any family expectations or pressures.
Sadly, all these factors act in reverse to a larger &/or lesser degree when it comes to life in Kenya. Endemic issues in most African countries like rife corruption, lack of personal security, inequality between the rich & poor etc exist in Kenya. I think this drastically sums up the differences. There are simple & basic positives about Kenya that you would have gathered from my earlier answers. But the Kenya of today has become like that familiar, much loved sweater that doesn’t fit as well. While I love it dearly because it holds some very special memories and people, I can’t wear it anymore.
What would a disability inclusion project mean for Kenyan people?
Disabled people in Kenya, as in most developing countries in the world, live in poverty, have limited opportunities for accessing education, health, suitable housing and employment opportunities. The disability inclusion project would assist to change these anomalies. It would help the full participation of women entrepreneurs with disabilities in entrepreneurship development activities. It would enable the disabled in society realize their aspirations, improve their living conditions and participate more actively in society.
You have been a great contributor to building community within our church. Why is our church community important to you?
It is a big deal and important for my happiness & growth. I am in relationships with other believers, whom we pray for, support & encourage, and serve alongside. I feel at home in church as though I’m chosen to be a part of it. My need for a belonging is met.
If I am not wrong, as part of a strong church community, I will both receive & give or be actively engaged in. I believe that as a part of my church community I am knowing Jesus a lot better and sharing in the joys of God, growing in the love & care I am getting from worshipping, praying, serving & in my case, meeting up with my fellow men routinely.
Are you participating in the market on Sunday? If so, how?
Of course, without doubt – in any which way but loose!! Hahahah! J
Thanks for sharing some of your story with us Samuel! Please come prepared to engage in this community activity on Sunday and to support the disability inclusion project.
And don’t forget to say ‘Jambo, Habari and Muzuri sana!’ to Samuel at the sausage sizzle!