The Grand Master meets President Kibaki in Kenya: “Together for the millennium goals”
The numerous cooperation projects that the Order of Malta has launched in Kenya since 2001 were the focus of the talks that the Grand Master had with the country’s leading authorities on Tuesday 16 February. Fra’ Matthew Festing first met Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula and immediately after was received by the President of the Republic Mwai Kibaki at Harambee House
President Kibaki stressed the importance of the Order’s assistance in the government’s efforts to create an equitable social development. The Head of State expressed his gratitude for the medicines and emergency food aid supplied to inhabitants of the drought-affected north-eastern province.
A key feature of the Order of Malta’s humanitarian actions, the Grand Master recalled in his speech during the lunch offered by the Foreign Minister, “is that of always working with the national health authorities and the local communities to guarantee the long-term sustainability of its projects”. He also stated that the aim of the Order’s presence in Kenya is “to teach the population to become more aware of healthcare issues, especially in the prevention of HIV/AIDS and TB and children’s health. This will not only help to reduce health costs for the Kenyan government but will also foster the Order’s cooperation in achieving the Millennium goals”. It is our firm intention – the Grand Master announced – to continue and, where possible, to expand this work in the future.
The Order’s presence in Kenya, the Grand Master added, has also enabled it to develop humanitarian work in the Great Lakes region and to appoint its representative in the United Nations environment agency with headquarters in Nairobi.
The Grand Master also met the Health Minister Beth Wambui Mugo, with whom he discussed the numerous cooperation programmes the Order runs in Kenya through Malteser International.
The Grand Master spends time with the children in Nairobi’s slums
The Order of Malta’s Grand Master was first greeted by the children on his private visit to Kenya. In the afternoon of 15 February Fra’ Matthew Festing encountered the orphans of the “Terry Hope Centre” in the Negando district. This home is supported by the Order’s embassy in Nairobi, which last year launched a food and healthcare programme for destitute children in the Githembe-Nando slums.
On the afternoon of 17 February the Grand Master was updated on Malteser International’s work and projects in a meeting with the Order’s relief corps. Malteser International runs the medical and humanitarian programmes set up in Kenya, Darfur, Southern Sudan, East Congo and Uganda through its regional office in Nairobi. The Order of Malta has been active in Kenya since 2001 with Malteser International. Activities include the prevention and treatment of TB and HIV/AIDS in eight shanty towns in Nairobi, where some 600,000 people live in poor sanitary and hygiene conditions in squalid and unsafe environments. Besides diagnosis and treatment, the humanitarian programme trains local staff in the health centres, sets up laboratories and provides information for slum dwellers.
Malteser International has been awarded two prizes for this TB programme, recently extended also to the Remand penitentiary which the Grand Master visited, together with the health centre of Soweto Kayole, on his last day in Kenya.