African AIDS orphans to get a new school

  • August 28, 2008

{mosimage}A Catholic high school in which every student has lost at least one parent to AIDS has turned the sod on a new permanent home on the edge of Africa’s second largest slum.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School was established in 2003 for AIDS orphans in Kibera, a slum of nearly one million people in Nairobi, Kenya. The founders and funders are a Nairobi chapter of the Christian Life Community movement and their American Jesuit spiritual director, Fr. Terry Charlton. The school has grown to 260 students from 56 when it first opened.

Pallister Josephat Mukaka of the African Jesuit AIDS Network reports that the new school campus will be next to St. Michael’s Catholic Church. At a Mass to end the school year and start the new construction on June 22, Charlton told students, “You must have something worth dying for. This is what God requires of us.”

Most students at Gonzaga have watched their parents, uncles, aunts and neighbours die of AIDS.

The students enrolled at Aloysius Gonzaga are an academic elite who must pass tough entrance exams to get in, though none could afford the kind of private-school education Gonzaga offers. Students, who often live together in mud-floor quarters in the slum, are sponsored by members of the Christian Life Community of Kenya.

Charlton has raised more than $1 million in the United States to fund the new school buildings, including a $55,000 gift from the United States ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger.

CLC is a world-wide lay movement which fosters prayer and spirituality along the lines of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

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