Spiritan Features

Safeguarding Training in the Province of Kenya, September 2018

Brendan Carr C.S.Sp.

Almost all Spiritans working in Kenya, and a number serving in South Sudan or Tanzania were among some 40 participants who came together in Nairobi for a workshop on safeguarding children. The training was provided by the Spiritan Safeguarding Office of the Irish Province which had previously given a similar course to Spiritans in Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania, and to another religious congregation in Nigeria.

The course of five very full days was a mix of input, group work, personal testimony and evaluation. Participants soon become aware of the role of the Church in the public space and how society looks to it for direction and guidance. The law of the land is key to understanding the rights of individuals, children and adults, how any citizen is obliged to act before the law and the penalties for crimes and for those who would hide crimes. A Kenyan religious sister who is a qualified lawyer gave an insightful input on Kenyan law while a De La Salle brother who works for a network of congregations, outlined the common actions, programmes and policies that are now emerging in the Kenyan Church.

Preparation began a full year earlier, and nothing had been left to chance.  The location was the very beautiful and spacious parish centre at St. Austin’s in Nairobi. Prayer each morning and a reflective review each evening, assisted by extracts from scripture, created a thoughtful ambience for the task in hand.

Perhaps the most satisfying appraisal of all that was given of the course came from the group’s own evaluation that ‘The focus on safeguarding children in the Church in our time cannot be an elective module but needs to be a core component of the training for ministers in the Church, ordained and lay, who will bring awareness and a structure of safeguarding to widespread Christian communities and to the educational, medical and social institutions where we have roles of responsibility’.