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SCOUTS IN ST.MARTIN

This year St. Martin CSA received a special visit from a group of young Italian scouts. Unlike the single Kenyan scout system which is institutionalized in the education system as an extra curriculum activity Italy has two different scout associations belonging to the same world wide federation founded by Baden Powell.
One of these groups has its roots not only in Baden Powell’s vision of service and brotherhood but also in the Gospel. This is AGESCI , the Italian Catholic Scouts Association. As the Kenyan scout groups are connected to their school and districts these belong to their respective Parishes. The visitor came from a Parish town called Limena in the district of Padua, one of the centers of the Italian support for St. Martin CSA. 
Fontana Foundation one of the sponsors of St. Martin CSA is for example located in that area. In 2006 one of the administrators James Njoroge and Social Worker Susan Gathu came to the Catholic Church in Limena where they gave a presentation about the approach and activities of the organisation carried out in Kenya.
Because the scouts belonging to this parish were eager to hear about this community of service they attended this meeting to satisfy their curiosity but left the presentation even more inquisitive. 
Service to the vulnerable is one of the scouts core responsibilities, a service which is also highly needed in the North. How would it be possible that a developing country in the South has a community in which service has become a cornerstone and not merely pedestal for foreign well-wishers?  The doubting Thomas in them decided that they had to come and assess this community of service themselves.
For over a year they engaged themselves in fundraising activities like washing cars and selling home based cakes to finance this exposure.  They prepared themselves by reading about Kenya and St. Martin CSA philosophy and vision.

On the 21st of July we were finally ready to leave, charged with enthusiasm and curiosity. Our group consisted of twelve boys and girls, three scout leaders and four guests. From the money we raised in Italy we were able to spend two amazing weeks full of meetings, new experiences and many special moments. The majority of our time we spend in the special units within the St. Martins target area, the street programme centres and Talitha Kum Children’s Home. We had the opportunity to life, eat and sleep with these wonderful vulnerable children who have a phenomenal capacity.
We were enabled to touch the wounds of the poor and abandoned, but mostly we got to experience the joy, the enthusiasm and the sincere love..
The HIV positive children played with us, the deaf and dumb children taught us how to pray and sing, the disabled brought our own weakness into the limelight and the street children made us feel lucky as we never felt before. The countless witnesses of the community volunteers made us gasp with owe. Slowly we began to understand the challenges faced by the Kenyan society and the dept of the community service provided by St. Martin CSA.
After visiting Korogocho slum in Nairobi on the 6th of August 2007 we took the evening flight back to Italy.  We still have vivid and wonderful memories of our journey and are still impressed by the love and potentiality we experienced. An experience that has changed our perspective on community service and that has deepened our faith in the Gospel.
We are now gracefully able to testify to Its reality in daily life.
Thank you St. Martin Community for opening our soul and healing our hearts

(Scout Damiano)

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