Growing Community Roots is the bridge that was created to further the ministry that Sister Rosita Aranita CSJ began in southwest Kenya. This is an area of Kenya where eight out of 10 people live in poverty. Sister Rosita went to Kenya because of an initial contact with the Kenyan student David Opap at University of Northwestern in St. Paul. Sister Rosita traveled with David to meet the village leaders and learn more about the culture.
She stayed five months living with the Franciscans of St. Joseph. With the help of Father Ombok she met the people, the tribal leaders, and parish leaders. They shared with her the most pressing needs of their communities. Together they identified 36
schools in West Karachuonyo of the Rachuonyo District, all of them in need of water
Two consociates of the St. Paul Province, Anita S. Duckor and Anne Hannahan, along
with Sister Irene O’Neill, CSJ, went to West Kenya to see first-hand the work that Sister
Rosita had started and nurtured. Their visit was the beginning force behind building that
bridge from the United States to the eastern shore of Lake Victoria, Kenya.
Mary Lieta, a CSJ Consociate in Kenya, guided the three to the poverty-stricken areas – the schools, communities and houses without basic infrastructure of water and sanitation. The visitors also met community leaders and school principals of the IMBO Community Action Program (ICAP), a certified NGO (non-governmental organization) in Kenya that is a partner of Growing Community Roots in West Kenya.
Seeing first-hand the incredible needs of the schools, Anita S. Duckor and Anne Hannahan returned home and began the process of establishing a nonprofit to raise funds for safe water and sanitation. Growing Community Roots was established and received its non-profit status in 2014. It is an all-volunteer organization.
We built Growing Community Roots to include CSJ Congregational representation with board members that include Sister Angela Faustina, Los Angeles Province, Sister Mary Lou Dolan, Albany Province, Sister Jo Ann Geary, St. Louis Province, Sister Linda Neill, Albany Province, Sister Therese Sherlock, St. Paul Province, and Ann Shields, Consociate from St. Paul Province.
Sister Maureen Freeman, St. Louis Province and Dorothy Forbes, CSJA, Albany Province are now Emeritus Board members.
There are three Kenyan Consociates on the IMBO Community Action Program Board – Mary Lieta, Leah Lieta, and Serphine Mambe. The CEO of ICAP Samuel Lieta is also a Consociate and other Kenyan Consociates include Roseanne Akinyi, Oseanne
Ochien’G, Emmaculate Okuta, and Margaret Wanda. These committed Consociates animate the “profound love of God and love of neighbor without distinction” and by working toward social, economic and ecological justice in the Homa Bay area of Kenya.
Our partnership explicitly demonstrates the CSJ call to respond bolding to the injustices
in the world and exemplifies our commitment to work toward dismantling systems of
oppression by standing with the poor and the oppressed, especially with women and
Growing Community Roots invests directly in water catchment systems that provide safe water for drinking and bathing, latrines that offer privacy and washrooms, and wash stands, fencing for community gardens that ensure children have nutritious meals at school and tree farms that help address the critical deforestation problem that exists in Homa Bay.
Each year IMBO Community Action Program submits a school project for Growing
Community Roots to consider fundraising for. Living our principle of subsidiarity, all
recommended projects are approved by the Kenyan community-based leaders. We then
raise funds for the approved project.