Edmund Rice Education Australia Touchstone
As a Catholic School in the Edmund Rice tradition, we look beyond our own community to contribute to the overall growth and development of Catholic Schools in the Edmund Rice Tradition and to Edmund Rice ministries in Australia and overseas
Over the last school holidays Mrs Meagan Armstrong, Mr David Ritchie, Joshua Armstrong, Aidan Davis, Kai Darwin, Joseph Hussein, Aaron Judd, Daniel Pearce, Jackson Robb, (students from Year 11) and I attended the annual Immersion to Nairobi, Kenya. The theme of the Immersion is Kesheni, which means ‘Stay Awake’ in Swahili. In attending this immersion, it is hoped that we are challenged to stay awake to the needs of those that are less fortunate. The program provided us with the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the work of Edmund Rice Ministries in the slums of Nairobi, with the hope of challenging and inspiring us to become agents for change in own community and to motivate others to support the impoverished and disempowered in our local context. The program also serves to continue to develop and strengthen connections between Edmund Rice Ministries in Nairobi Kenya and St Edward’s College.
The immersion provided us with many wonderful experiences and the student participants have each written a brief report outlining their highlights, challenges faced and learnings. I would like to thank Joshua, Aidan, Kai, Joseph, Aaron, Daniel and Jackson for being great ambassadors for St Edward’s College. Mrs Armstrong, Mr Ritchie and I are very proud of the way in which they immersed themselves fully in every activity, showing great respect, dignity and compassion towards everyone and every ministry that we visited. Before leaving Australia, we spoke about the importance of opening our hearts and minds to the beauty of Kenya and its people. We were challenged in many ways, but the learnings I am sure have been very rich.
To sum up Kenya in a short paragraph is something that isn’t easy to do. It would be easy to write many pages on the things we did. Going into the Kenya immersion, I wanted to learn about the country and its culture, and to see how it differed from Australia. Also, I wanted to gain experiences from what could be a trip of a lifetime. I felt very fortunate to be chosen. There were many highlights on this trip, but I believe the main one for me was spending time with the children at both the Kibera camp and schools. This was an amazing experience as I was able to put a smile on the kids’ faces but in return, they put a huge smile on mine. These days were truly special to me and I will remember them for the rest of my life. I gained friendships and close bonds that will last the rest of my life. It has made me appreciate the things I have and the opportunities I have been given. The amount of challenges that we faced were many; from Advocacy talk, learning about how little girls are abused and married off to 70 year old’s at the age of 7-9, the slum walk through Kibera, seeing the living conditions and houses where people live and hearing some of their stories. This trip taught me about culture and community in Kenya, in how they are very welcoming and willing to help, how they want to be better and that young people are really the future in this country. I feel inspired and motivated to do better in my life. This trip has shown me how important it is to become involved within community and I hope to do similar trips in the future. I feel this trip has changed my life forever.
What an amazing experience I had in Kenya. It was such a different culture but really welcoming and friendly. I met new people, learnt about their culture and country and made new friends. It was very confronting to experience the poverty that families in the slums lived in. They showed us their houses with enormous pride and made us realise how lucky we are here in Australia. In spite of the hardships people in Kenya experienced, they are all so happy and welcoming. The highlight for me was being at the Reuben Centre and working in the baby clinic. It was inspiring to see the great work of the medical teams there, who are really making a difference to these children’s future. I learnt so much in my time there but for me, the main lesson was to appreciate the everyday things that we have here that we take for granted – clean tap water, sewerage, rubbish collections. It was a life changing experience that I will never forget.
My time in Kenya was amazing! I am grateful I was given the opportunity to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience. This trip included many highlights, challenges and helped the students, especially me, to learn. The trip was jammed full of highlights, but for me, there was a standout. The highlight wasn’t something that I will look back at and think that was amazing, but it will stay with me for the rest of my life. Walking through Kibera was my highlight. To see what the people of Kibera have to live through every single day of their lives and hearing their stories really shows how lucky we are in Australia and that will always live with me. One challenge I encountered was listening to the workers at Edmund Rice Advocacy Network telling what they have to go through in their lives. They talked about hard-hitting subjects such as child marriage, FGM and corruption. Listening to these stories was sickening but it was common in Kenya. We learnt lots about the culture, the people, the similarities and differences between Kenya and Australia, but most importantly, we learnt about each other. Each night we had a debrief where we would talk about the day, listening to how others had perceived that day was eye-opening, although we all had undergone the same experiences, we would all have slightly differing opinions about the day, and try to relate it back to our lives at home, which was fantastic. I have also learnt that it is very hard to tell others how amazing it was, we get caught up in the negatives and leave out many of the positives, during the experiences you get overwhelmed with emotion and just can’t put into words exactly how you were feeling.
The Kenya Immersion Trip was an outstanding opportunity that I was grateful to be a part of among nine fellow members of the College. I was positive minded from start to end and was confronted by challenging tasks and information, which has inspired me to recognise the significant difference between my overall life, in comparison to the people of Kenya. The trip was informative in the sense that it allowed me to open up my eyes to a third world country and its surroundings. It has most definitely reassured my gratefulness for my basic necessities and every opportunity I have in my life. The trip did not only consist of confronting situations, but also allowed for a pleasurable trip too, experiencing a safari for the first time, witnessing giraffe and elephant manors and orphanages and getting among cultural dancing to bring out my newfound talent! Personally, the greatest occurrence on this trip, was realising that there was pleasure in experiencing the confronting issues, finding the true joy and respect by the young and old people who survive in Kenya with disabilities, mental health issues, physical abuse or extreme poverty and living conditions. As much as the confronting situations brought much emotion and despondency upon me, it gave me an overwhelming sensation to find how appreciative the Kenyans were to see the mission we journeyed through over the two weeks. I personally would like to thank Mr Bonnici and the Edmund Rice Organisations, for allowing me to expand my knowledge on our amazing world and learn in depth about Kenya through visiting new friends and physically experiencing the landscape and landmarks of Kenya. This trip has truly changed my life and I highly encourage any interested in the future to be involved in this remarkable movement.
Kenya was the most insightful and educational experience I have ever undertaken. I was fortunate enough to be selected to represent St Edward’s College along with the six other students. I have remained quite sheltered my whole life, living without any worries or struggles that affect those around the world. My experience at Kenya has changed my outlook on life and my approach towards the problems I experience living in a first world country. We began our trip embracing Kenya’s rich culture and having the greatest time playing with the kids at the Reuben Centre and appreciating the amazing and safe environment they have created for the people living in the slums of Mukuru. The leaders spoke to us about their history and their goals they hope to achieve to provide a sustainable and caring environment for the people. We visited the Mary Rice Centre, a school for financially disadvantaged children living with a disability. The Mary Rice Centre was astounding – the care and love the people who worked there had for the children was heart-warming and inspiring. Soon after helping at the Mary Rice Centre, we walked through the slums of Kibera to visit the home of one of the families whose child attends the school. I found walking through the slums to be heart breaking. The sight of children and babies being left unattended and unsupervised wandering around the cracked and uneven ground with sharp rusted tin roofs and waste infested rivers, left a heavy feeling in your heart. The people were living with nothing and working only to survive, the pursuit of happiness never crosses their mind. Participating in the Kibera Youth camp was a joyous and exciting day. We were able to play with children whose home life was not stable and were selected to participate in these camps as a way of escaping that. The camp leaders told us that they love these camps as it is a way for these kids to express themselves and be happy and without worries as they would at home. We also visited the Edmund Rice Advocacy Centre, which I found to be the most confronting. The kind and compassionate people who worked there advocated for the better treatment of children who are abused both sexually and physically by parents, guardians and teachers. They provide a safe haven for the children as well as educate families on better ways to discipline or treat their children. We visited the Women for Women Centre where we met some of the strongest and beautiful people who help sponsor children to get an education. We spoke with the older students who were beginning their university education and how appreciative they are of Women for Women and the work they do. Our final visit was at an informal school located in the Kibera slum. This was the perfect way to finish the trip, the leader of the school was the happiest and funniest lady I had ever seen. We were able to teach in the classrooms for a short while and as we left, we watched the kids run after the bus with big smiles on their faces. I know that this may not be a short paragraph, but I cannot seem to describe what I felt during my time in Kenya. I feel like I’ve come to the realization of how lucky I truly am to have my family, my school and my friends with me all the time as many of the kids living in Africa wish for. My gratitude to St Edward’s and those at Kenya that showed us the warm welcoming into their lives is immense.
The Kesheni immersion to Kenya proved to be an incredible and life changing experience which has not only allowed myself to understand Kenyan and African culture to a deeper level but has also showed how fortunate we are in Australia. We were exposed to many different ministries and services which seek to help the most disadvantaged in Kenya. One such place, the Edmund Rice Advocacy, provided, personally, the most challenging conversation of the whole immersion. The incredible staff that worked there explained how kids come from all around Kibera, the biggest urban slum in all of Africa, to seek help and protection. Examples of some of the situations that some kids experience were cases of domestic abuse, genital mutilation and young girls as young as 7 years of age being married off to older men. Although we experienced our share of challenges from the trip, the highlights far outweighed them. The visit to the day-care at the Rueben centre was my personal highlight as we were welcomed with hugs and dancing by the toddlers and babies there, as well as meeting the other camp leaders that were great role models for the kids of Kibera. The trip allowed me to fully quantify the value of education, changing my whole perspective on my life.
Last holidays, seven boys and three staff were fortunate enough to experience the lives and everyday tasks of the people in Kenya. Whilst there, we visited institutions that St Edward’s has supported over the years such as the Rueben Centre, that supports the people in the Mukuru slum and the Mary Rice Centre that supports children with disabilities that live in the Kibera slum. Assisting with these organisations was beneficial and rewarding. To witness firsthand the lives and the state of the country, both politically and economically, was a real insight and a pleasure to be a part of. Throughout the trip, the boys and I met with so many people who immersed us into their culture with open arms and told us valuable stories of their lives and the reasons behind the charitable work they do for the less fortunate community in the slums. I’m thankful for the efforts of Mr Bonnici and the other teachers and guides overseas who helped ensure the safety and education of the boys and for their dedication towards the experience as it encouraged the boys to participate in every opportunity that was put forth towards us. I have been forever changed by my time in Kenya and my outlook towards my learning and schooling has altered for the better. I am not likely to forget my time in Africa and I’m sure the other boys won’t either. Being privileged enough to make a change in a community so far away from home was an incredible gift and I encourage any boys thinking about applying to talk to the boys who went this year about their time for guidance or reassurance.
Undies for Kenya
Following the incredible generosity of the College community, we were able to donate women and girls underwear to three different groups in Kenya. On our visit to the Ruben Centre, located in the Mukuru community, we donated 50 pairs of Modibodi underwear to the health clinic staff who were so pleased to be able to distribute these to women accessing the health clinic for maternity care.
On the day of the Edmund Rice Camp for marginalised youth, the young girls were so excited at the end of the day to be able to choose some brand-new underwear to take home – the chatter was a joy to hear! Then the camp volunteers, camp leaders and cooks were also delighted to be given the opportunity to choose some for themselves and their friends. They were so grateful!
Finally, visiting Women for Women on the final day, Sr Leonida and a wonderful group of women at the centre, were ecstatic to take delivery of over 1400 pairs of underwear to be given directly to the women and girls of the Kibera community. They were so very humbled and grateful to the Eddies community and personally asked us to pass on their deepest gratitude and prayers to all those who donated. It was such an honour to be a part of this wonderful moment and to meet such beautiful people in these organisations, making a difference in the world. In total, we took over 1700 pairs of undies and the impact this donation had on those we presented them to, will forever be in our memories. Thank you.
Appointment of the new Bishop of the Diocese of Broken Bay
Pope Francis has appointed Most Rev Anthony Randazzo as the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Broken Bay. Bishop Anthony has been an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Sydney since 2016. He succeeds the Most Rev Peter A Comensoli who was appointed Archbishop of Melbourne in 2018.
Bishop Anthony brings a great breadth of experience into his new ministry, having served in leadership roles, both in Australia and internationally. He is a Canon Lawyer, and was Rector of the Holy Spirit Seminary in Queensland from 2009-2015 and worked in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome from 2004-2009.
As Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, Bishop Anthony has served as Episcopal Vicar for Formation, with a strong focus on the formation of seminarians, young clergy and the ongoing formation of priests. He has also been Chair of the Board of Sydney Catholic Schools and a member for the Bishops’ Commission for the Plenary Council.
Commencement of the HSC
Year 12 students began their Higher School Certificate examinations last Thursday. The English examinations were the first of many exams to be conducted over a four-week period. I would like to wish all Year 12 students the best of luck in these examinations and look forward to celebrating them finishing their time with us at St Edward’s at their Graduation on November 15th.
Vale Kerry Baldwin
It is with great sadness that I inform the St Edward’s community of the recent passing of Kerry Baldwin. Kerry’s relationship with St Edward’s extends back to his time as a student at the College from 1957 to 1960. After completing his teaching qualifications, Kerry held a range of leadership and teaching positions in education both in Newcastle and on the Central Coast. Kerry returned to commence work at St Edward’s in 1997 and retired in December 2013. He continued to serve the St Edward’s community in the capacity of College Chaplain and student support roles after his retirement. In addition to these positions, Kerry was a valued member of the College Board for a number of years until December 2018.
Kerry was a true gentleman and friend of the College. His service to the College was immense in particular supporting many students who were vulnerable for a range of personal and family reasons throughout his role as teacher and College Chaplain. Kerry was a man of great integrity, and a deep thinker and mentor for many staff.
Kerry will be truly missed, but forever loved by his family, friends and colleagues.
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and May perpetual light shine upon him and may he rest in peace. Amen