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KACHELIBA


Pokot

The Pokot, who were called Suk until the time of Kenya’s independence in 1963, are a conservative tribe in northwestern Kenya who have gained a reputation for resistance to western influences, including Christianity.
The Pokot inhabit the montains of West Pokot District and the surrounding plains to the west, north and east. About one-half of the Pokot are semi-pastoralists who herd cattle, goats, and sheep. While the rest are agriculturalists who reside in the hill country. At the edge of British influence in Kenya, the Pokot experienced little Western influences until after independence. In the past 30 years, the Kenya government and Churches have attempted to bring progress to the Pokot in the form of education, medical services, development projects, etc. With a measure of success, though significant change has only come within the last ten years. The traditional Pokot lifestyle is still the norm for the majority of the more than 264,000 Pokot.

Population
The 1979 Kenya Population Census indicated approximately 154,000 Pokot in Kenya. Assuming a 2% annual increase, this gives a 2006 Pokot population of 264,000 persons. It is estimated that there are an additional 4000-6000 Pokot in Uganda. The majority of the Pokot live in West Pokot District where they make up 80% of the total population. Another 20% Pokot live in Nginyang Division of Baringo District. All of Pokot in Nginyang Division are semi-pastoralists while 43% of the Pokot in Kacheliba Division were pastoralists until they lost their cattle through drought and raids and were forced to begin farming.
It is important to note that one-half of the Pokot are under 15 years of age and 75% are under the age of 30 years. This is typical of many peoples in Kenya.

Christianity among the Pokot
Christian missionaries first established work among the Pokot in 1931 when the Bible Churchmen’s Missionary Society (Anglican) set up a ministry in Kacheliba. About the same time, the African Inland Mission began work at Maron among the east Pokot. The Catholic Church followed in 1946 and established a parish at Tartar. But the early missionaries found the Pokot resistant to Christianity, as well as to education and other development help.

History of Kacheliba Mission
Kacheliba Mission started in 1973 by Fr. Piero Endie and soon after joined Fr. Antonio Dolzan. The Comboni Missionaries Sisters arrived in 1974. The church is dedicated to the Holy Cross.
The territory of the original mission was an extension of 12000 sq km, from down the scarpment to Kapenguria to Nayuyopong all along the Uganda border. Previously the same territory was part of two parishes: Amudat and Tartar.
Although the Comboni Missionaries were arriving to several far away out stations of Amudat, the great majority of the population was not contacted and followed by missionaries, few people were baptized and poorly instructed. Tartar had an out station in Serewo, Amudat in Kanyerus, Kacheliba, Kodich, Konyao, Alale and Nauyapong.
As the mission building were developing the first missionaries tried to learned the Pokot language, but they found it hard (as it is indeed). They prepared catechetical material to assist the catechists. Some of them were coming from the old parish of Amudat.
The catechists were mostly young men who had left the school. These young men were well accepted by the children and women, but not so much cared for by the adults (this tendency is still present today).
With the coming of the sisters, the Mobile Clinic and Maendeleo were started. Especially the Mobile Clinic seemed to be a good means to approached the local population and to show them care and love that the missionaries had for them.

Our priorities
Since the beginning of Kacheliba Mission the Comboni Missionaries and Comboni Missionaries Sisters have been the soul of all the activities taking place as followed:

Catechumenate: Although still in the process in creating a tradition of catechumenate, well structured, our catechuments are divided into two categories: a) Children of the school / b) Adults
There are different stages before baptism. These stages are performed where the catechumen can feel the existence of a church. Their final baptism is done together, when possible.
Sponsoring schools: In order to facilitate the education process to our Pokot , the mission has been sponsoring schools according to the law of Kenya. In the schools the mission stresses the teaching of P.P.I. (Pastoral Programme Instruction). The schools have been help through the sponsorship of Sr. Rosa Kainz. Individual children are also helped in these sponsorships up to secondary school level; but they also are expected to place their share.

Maendeleo: The Comboni Missionaries Sisters runs the maendeleo of women. Maendeleo operates outside the centre and in the centre itself. Its programme is mostly to teach the women sewing, but other subjects are coming in fast as the level interest of the women grows, eg. Hygiene, cockery, horticulture.

Mobile Clinic: The mobile Clinic is runned by a Comboni Sister, helped by a nurse and other assistants. The mobile Clinic reaches to remote areas from where the people cannot come for treatment. It is not a mere professional service, but a service that is done with Christian care and religious conciousness.
Christian Communities: In the parish there have been a good number of baptisms but due to the situation of the population seldom they materialized into a Christian community. The present Christian communities of adults are not very numerous and their life scarce. Their main features are. Sunday prayers together, and sporadic meetings.

Other Activities: Printing and Translation. Kacheliba has been since the beginning involved in translating into Pokot any material helpful for the pastoral care.

Development: The need has impelled the mission to assist the people with additional aid: building schools and nurseries with the people, drilling and maintenance of boreholes.

Famine Relief: Every number of years a special dry year occur, people flock to the mission for relief. Experience has shown that it is not good to be very prompt, but to be on the alert. In the last few years, help was given requesting a bit of work (food for work).