“Project Kenya” encompasses a few related Kenya-focused ministries that our parish has started.
The Icon Project started in 2022 by Theodoros and Eleni Karamatskos and Elayne (Eleni) Goldman for Archbishop Makarios Tillyrides at the Makarios III Patriarchal Seminary in Nairobi, Kenya, which is under the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa. Initially 27 iconostasis (5 large icons, like what we see on the iconostasis at St. John) purchased beautiful images of Christ, the Theotokos, the patron saint of the church (all churches have been named), Archangel Michael and Gabriel, printed on high quality canvas in Thessaloniki, Greece. There were also 27 Christ on the Cross constructed in 2022 which stand approximately 6’x4.5’ and are used primarily during Holy Week for Pascha celebrations. This project will continue until all 128 churches throughout the Diocese of Archbishop Makarios are completed and all the churches are consecrated. The cost to build one iconostasis is $1000 USD.
The materials and supplies such as tools, wood, glue, varnish, paint, supplies and canvas/printing will be purchased in Nairobi this year. The cost to import icons of this size and quality is cost prohibitive. To fulfil our mission to grow and beautify Orthodox churches in Kenya, this cost-effective way to produce (constructed and mounted) icons and teach seminarians to make them as they acquire their own churches in the mission field, has become the essence of this important project.
Our parish church of St John the Baptist has embraced this project and supports the efforts made to bring awareness to International Missions in a tangible way in our very own church. It is hoped that all of us, and in particular our children, will benefit from learning that our brothers and sisters in Christ live as we do, as Orthodox Christians, around the world, faced with everyday challenges striving to live out our salvation in Jesus Christ. Our awareness can bring prayer and God’s grace to these people of different traditions and cultures to withstand obstacles (often adverse and a means of survival) more than we do by simply living in America (not to say that living in America is easy). Through the relationships that have been cultivated since 2017, when Elayne G and Thomaida H, long time and founding members of SJBGOC embarked on their first Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) mission to Kenya, our Orthodox sisters and brothers pray for us and as a parish we ask you to be aware of this and continue to keep Orthodox Christion’s around the world in your prayers as well. You can also visit the Missions of Love and Hope website to read more about how this project came to fruition.
Your donation of any amount is humbly appreciated to fulfill this project and can be made directly to St John the Baptist, GOC through this website, or by check/cash. You can also donate on Missions of Love and Hope, a 501.(c)(3) organization founded by Theodoros and Eleni Karamatskos. There is a PayPal option there as well. 100% of your donations goes to the item(s) you identify.
Another way to participate in the icon project is to donate laminated Orthodox icons, small, mounted home icons, home alter items such as crosses, incense, small candle holders and home crosses. Most parishioners, especially in more rural areas of Kenya, do not have home icons largely because of the cost and can only venerate icons at church. It is important to help educate parishioners on saints of our church and providing a laminated icon with a saint’s name is identified can help focus prayer to the saints. We also collected paper pictures of icons from special magazines, greeting cards, etc and laminated as a church family in Oct, 2023. The laminated icons and any home alter item will be distributed to children and families by Archbishop Makarios as he travels throughout Kenya fulfilling his mission and disciple of Christ.
If you or someone you know is interested in participating in this project by visiting the Makarios III seminary in Nairobi on future visits, please contact Elayne G. We are always looking for strong bodied individuals to help and learn to build icons or simply to be witness of the miraculous ways of how Christ makes the impossible, possible. A small team of four individuals will leave Nov 3-17, 2023 for Nairobi. The most important thing you can do for this project is to PRAY for us and those seminariean or others at the seminary participating in our project.
Please make your donation for November 2023 Icon building or your collection items to the church no later than Nov 1, 2023. Any donations for icons that come in after Nov 1 will be applied to the icon fund as needed until the project is complete. There will be a notice on this website as such.
THE GREAT COMMISSION: “…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Maasai Orthodox School
With the blessing of Archbishop Makarios of Kenyas and the bishop at the Theological School in Thessaloniki Greece, land was gifted by a tribal elder for a secondary school and Vasillios will return to Maasai to build the school with his earned savings while working on a shipyard in France this past year. Vasillios has now returned to Kenya on October 10, to help finish the school which has been started by the local parishioners.
Here is a YouTube video (in Greek) that gives an overview of the school, with the translation, below:
In Kenya, in the village of Ewaso, which is a village of the Maasai tribe with about 40,000 inhabitants, an old tribal leader offered to our orthodox church a piece of land to build a church, a school, a technical school and other infrastructure, such as a medical center, that will help the needs of the area. Our orthodox church, Nativity of Christ Orthodox church has been built by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios and was renovated last year.
A very important problem facing this indigenous area is that there is no secondary school. Children cannot continue school after primary school and so they stay at home; the boys usually raise the animals, and the girls are involved in domestic work. Many of them marry at a young age. To solve this problem our church decided to build a secondary school to give these children the opportunity to continue their basic education and at minimum, to strengthen the next generations to improve their development and destiny.
The construction of the school has already started with the hope to be completed by the end of 2023. The school consists of 8 classrooms with a capacity for 30-40 children per classroom, a room for teachers and a toilet.
We would like to ask whoever is able to support this effort, which is to complete and equip the school with children’s supplies, chairs and one table for each classroom, chalkboards, and teacher’s supplies.
We believe that this will offer a better future to many children of the Maasai village in Ewaso, Kenya, who currently do not have the opportunity to continue their school education after primary school.
It is our prayer that the Nativity of Christ Secondary school is completed and filled with children of the Maasai village. A small group of women will be traveling to Ewaso in January 2024 to purchase the supplies needed to equip the secondary school. This is a great blessing to ALL of us and it is our prayer that our church embraces the children of Maasai to help them understand that there are other Orthodox children not only praying for them but keeping contact with them as they grow. We would like nothing more than prayer and to take beautiful pictures and letters/cards drawn by our own children of St John the Baptist and ASA to be delivered to the children of the orthodox school of Maasai village in January. A beautiful relationship that has been established to teach our children about International Missions to pray for them as they pray for us. God works in miraculous ways to help us grow in our faith and belief in Christ.
St John the Baptist GOC community prayerfully supports the Maasai School project, which is a collaborative effort between Vasillios M. (a Theological School in Thessaloniki, Greece, and Elayne G. with the goal of equipping an Orthodox secondary school Ewaso, Kenya. The school is part of the community of The Orthodox Church of the Nativity. This project came about simply through the love of the church and compassion of this young Orthodox man from Greece and our small group on a visit to the Church of the Nativity Orthodox Church in the Massai village. At the time of our visit in 2022, the Orthodox church was found abandoned. The community was left without a priest or any means to hold services. Archbishop Makarios has cultivated a long-standing relationship with the Maasai tribe of Ewaso, converted and baptized hundreds of Orthodox Christians over time in the Maasai area. During the time of Vasilis’ stay at the Makarios III seminary and visits to the Maasai village with the His Eminence, a strong desire cultivated and his calling for the love of the Maasai people and vision of building a secondary school was born. A plan was made for the young man to return one-year later for a much longer stay, possibly even to settle, with the goal of earning enough money to build a secondary school if the church were to be renovated, served by a local priest and open the doors to the Orthodox faithful of Maasai.
Proposed donations to equip the Maasai Orthodox Secondary School
Here is a breakdown of supplies and equipment needed to equip the school: All supplies will be purchased in Nairobi and travel by car, one day’s drive to Maasai village to deliver the supplies to the school. Funds will be made payable to Archbishop Makarios and he will distributed to the team in January accordingly.
- $20.00 USD will purchase one children’s backpack filled with supplies. (to be purchased in Nairobi, Kenya)
- $50.00. USD will purchase one classroom table
- $75.00 USD will purchase on blackboard
- $100.00 will purchase 6 desk/chairs
- $200.00 USD will provide a monthly salary for one teacher.
Maasai Orthodox Women’s Group
Christ the Nativity Orthodox Church in the Village of Ewaso.
The Maasai women of this region are without basic ownership of personal hygiene care due to availability and financial means. This project will provide support for care items (fabric and instruction for sewing, including sewing machines and materials to make their own hygiene napkins (for personal use and/or distribution to others in the Maasai Village).
There is strong representation of Orthodoxy in the Maasai, established by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios, however the indigenous culture of 40,000 inhabitants can benefit from support and teachings about church ministries made up of primarily women in domestic roles utilizing their home leadership roles to build ministries that support and encourage Orthodox life in their established culture and customs.
Additionally, community members can benefit from loving and encouraging words to help with transitioning children from primary to secondary education as the new school is established.
A small team from Portland, Oregon will visit the Maasai community early 2024 to purchase the above items in Kenya and deliver to the Maasai Orthodox community of Christ the Nativity. Ongoing assessment of the most urgent needs of this nomadic culture is in progress.
Proposed donations to provide support for sanitary items
- Minimum $20.00 USD donation will purchase sanitary items lasting 6 months for one woman.
- $25.00 USD will purchase fabric for sewing
- $100.00 will purchase one sewing machine for the Orthodox women’s group.
Any donations not allocated will go to the other immediate needs of the Orthodox women’s group.
These projects are underway beginning in November 2023-Januay 2024. Please make your monetary donation to St. John the Baptist GOC marked MAASAI PROJECT or you can use Mission of Love and Hope at (molah.org) marked with your preference to MAASAI PROJECTS from Portland, OR. PayPal is available on the site. 100% of your donation goes to the project selected. Donations may be humbly received no later than December 28, 2023. May it be Blessed!
Please contact Eleni G. if you have questions about these upcoming mission projects or have interest in participating in future projects supported by St. John the Baptist GOC International Missions ministry.