Home recently in Nobber was Brother Paul (Dessie) Brennan, who is school administrator of the Patrician Brothers Primary School and Dispensary in Kabongo, near Eldoret, Western Kenya.
Br Brennan has been involved in the development of the school there since it was established in 2002, and he is now involved in developing a wider complex to include other facilities.
The Health Centre and Clinic which were established a few years ago are operating well at the moment providing a valuable service to the local community, especially in the area of diagnosis and treatment of HIV and AIDS patients.
The 'Sponsor-a-Child' programme is a project that Br Brennan runs that helps educate children in the Kabongo area. Many people in the Nobber and surrounding parishes, contribute to the development of these projects and to the education of the children in the Patrician Primary School.
Sponsors contribute €50 annually which educates a child for one full year and includes the cost of books and uniforms.
At the moment 430 students attend the Patrician Primary School. The development of the Patrician Primary School is continuing and this year they have added a computer education facility for the older pupils of the school. There are 20 computers and students are given computer education.
This year, Br Brennan, as administrator of the school, has managed to organise the drilling of a 170 metre borehole which will give clean drinking water to the school population and surrounding area. He stresses that clean water is a luxury in Kabongo and it was a great achievement to be able to do this.
"Another element of the water supply development is a Drip-Irrigation Programme which will result in the provision of an adequate supply of nutritious vegetables for about 25 families who are affected by HIV/AIDS," he said.
"With the development of the water supply in the area it will be possible to grow vegetables all year round, regardless of the very dry, hot climate."
Br Brennan emphasises this by observing that in Kabongo there was no rain from last October till mid April. The plan is that the HIV affected people will manage the vegetable growing programme. Plots will be set aside for growing vegetables and people who will benefit will manage and maintain the plot to ensure their continuous supply.
Another project that has just begun is the building of staff houses for the teachers and nurses in the complex to ensure a stability in the teaching staff.
The tireless Br Brennan is also involved in establishing and developing a wide range of other community facilities in the complex at Kabongo. Alongside the primary school is a kindergarten, health centre and VCT (Voluntary Counselling and Testing for HIV), staff houses, mobile clinic, sports facilities and a library. The complex also includes a computer room that can be used by students of the school and by locals in classes outside school hours.
In 2007, a nursery school /kindergarten was developed and opened, followed in 2008 by basketball and tennis facilities. There are about 100 children in the nursery from four to six years old. The nursery children receive fresh hot cooked food twice daily. Also opened in conjunction with the nursery is a kitchen and dining area as part of the Patrician Primary School at Kabongo, near Eldoret, Western Kenya.
Br Brennan organised the mains electricity supply to the general Kabongo area as well as the Patrician Primary School and Health Centre.
The complex at Kabongo, Western Kenya includes all the above elements and Br Brennan adds that the 'Sponsor-A-Child' programme is an important component of the overall development of the area.
At the moment Br Brennan is examining the feasibility of developing a secondary school in the area which would cater for further education of the students in the Patrician Primary School.
It is very costly for the students in Kabongo to travel to it, along with the added expenses of books uniforms and food. It would be ideal to set up a secondary school nearby and the costs would not be as high.
Having spent many years teaching in Ireland and in California, Br Brennan volunteered to work for two years in Kenya. He enjoyed it so much he stayed, as he was struck by the children's' enthusiasm and eagerness to learn, both inside and outside the school.
From 1978 till 1993, Dessie, as he's known in Nobber, taught English, History and Social Science at A level in St Patrick's High School, Iten, Kenya.
Br Brennan, in the many times he has addressed weekend masses in Nobber, emphasised that as a result of abject poverty such a school is the only opportunity of education for the children.
He taught in St Patrick's, from 1978 until his retirement, a school which has produced Olympic athletes.
In June 1989, Brother Brennan brought nine athletes and their teacher on a visit to Nobber. Three of these athletes have won Olympic medals; in 1988 Peter Rono won the gold medal in the 1500 metres, Matthew Birir won the 3000 metres Steeplechase in 1992 and in 2004 Wilson Kipketer, representing Denmark, won Bronze in the 800 metres.
An indefatigable worker, from 1993 to 1996, Br Brennan was General Secretary of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors of Kenya. From 1991 to 2000 he was Regional Superior of the Patrician Brothers in Kenya and from 1993 - 2001 he taught in the Novitiate House, in Kenya, which is a training house for young Brothers.
Br Brennan thanks everyone who has helped out in any way with the projects including Fr Seamus Houlihan, parish priest, Nobber and Teresa Kelly, Nobber, Br Brennan's first cousin.
Teresa looks after all the sponsorship in the area on behalf of Br Brennan and the Patrician Primary School, and can be contacted at No 2 O'Carolan Park, Nobber, on (086) 123 4740. Br Brennan can be contacted in Kenya on (00254) 722 377 509 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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