The Sisters of Mercy came to Kenya in 1956 at the invitation of the then Archbishop of Nairobi, Dr. J.J. Mc Carthy, CSSP. The invitation extended was to set up a hospital for Kenyans and for the education of the girl child. This was before independence and these two ministries of health and education continue to remain important to this day in the different locations in which we now find ourselves.
Currently the Mercy Sisters are in sixteen communities which spread from the Turkana desert in the north of the country to the Eastern Province, much further south. The terrain in which we minister varies greatly from one place to another. The north-west where we work is desert land and the south-east is also arid. The Rift Valley and some of the areas around Nairobi, the capital city, has fertile plains and lush vegetation.
As a country Kenya can boast of great beauty and variety in terms of cultures and terrain. This same variety exists economically where a small percentage of the population enjoy considerable wealth and a vast number struggle for their daily necessities. This is very evident in Nairobi where large areas of the city environs are home to tens of thousands of slum dwellers, in search of a living.
As Mercy Sisters we continue to be touched by the many needs of the people. The “kind word, the compassionate look and the patient hearing of sorrows” are as much a challenge in the Kenya of to day as they were in the Ireland of Catherine Mc Auley in the 1830’s. Enabling people to be self sufficient, providing for basic health care and helping educate the young population as well as engaging in catechesis and providing training in a number of areas continue to be the focus of our diverse works here. We still have a long way to go to make the millennium development goals (MDGs) a reality for almost half the current population of this beautiful land.
The establishment of the Mater Hospital which was opened in 1962 is one of our important works. The Hospital is home to the Mater Convent which has moved location at least three times since the early days and the increasing expansion of the hospital has reduced the amount of accommodation available on the site. The community is home to four sisters. One is retired from nursing and now the assistant librarian. One is the medical director of the hospital. Another is a nurse in the accident and emergency department and the fourth member of the community administers the comprehensive care clinic where HIV AIDS patients are looked after in a holistic and community based approach.