Year Joined MKLM: 2021
Ministry: Marianist Technical Institute
Ministry Area: Education and Leadership Development
Goal of Ministry: Promote young people’s vocational and life skills and develop their leadership qualities
Students at Marianist Technical Institute are mostly very poor — young men and women, ranging in age from 18 to their late 20s. For many of them, their education is subsidized. Some are day students, and others are residents — about 50/50 from a group of 150 students. Students are Catholic, Christian, and Muslim, coming from a radius of 50 kilometers around Ukunda.
I teach math once a week, vehicle mechanics theory three days a week, and vehicle mechanics practice (shop) two days a week. School hours are from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm five days a week and often on Saturday.
My ministry is teaching students lessons in the field they have chosen to develop as future work for their personal sustenance. I am a carpenter by trade but aspire to learn more about mechanics, which I have dabbled in since my youth. I teach theory from a mechanics book by planning a lesson and then writing the lesson on a white board for students to copy. Then I explain the lesson in U.S. English and Kiswahili language (mostly in English).
To begin each class, I test the students with maybe five written questions on the previous lesson to see how much they are understanding. I see progress. On the practical days I put on my mechanic cover-all and get my hands dirty. I know enough to show the correct procedures to do mechanic work. Teaching math is similar, and I am developing ways to teach both students who understand math more easily and those who say, “Oh, that is too complicated.” Sometimes it is trial and error, but my mind is finding ways to improve my teaching. Thank you God!
The biggest impact on the community is students learning to be responsible community participants.
We make sure our students succeed and help them in many ways besides teaching. For example, one student, a day schooler, who was living 15 kilometers south of school, had been riding his bicycle to school early in the morning. When his bicycle broke down, he had no way to get to school since his family is poor and he could not afford public transportation. After a month of missing school and trying to repair his bicycle, he finally got his bicycle repaired. But after it was repaired, his uncle took the bicycle for himself. The school’s social worker and I got together with a plan to make the student a resident student. He needed a lot of personal items, clothes, wash bucket, lock, sheets, etc. On the first school day he appeared at assembly wearing clothes similar to what the other students were wearing; he was so proud. He broke ranks from the student crowd and greeted all the staff with a big thank-you smile. He can learn here more easily now!
Francis is originally from Kentucky. He is a contractor with his own home repair business. He previously served as a Maryknoll lay missioner in Kenya from 1993 until 1996. Francis returned to Kenya as a volunteer with the Quakers. He also worked with the Appalachian Service Project, Alternative to Violence prison ministry program, and Boys to Men as a youth mentor. He has taught math, carpentry, religion and meditation. He received an associate degree from Owensboro Community College. His hobbies are walking, reading and watching mechanic shows on YouTube or watching PBS. He also has a deep interest in learning about different religious cultures.
He says, “My sole purpose is to love and serve God and to eventually know and to rely on God. My work is to overcome inequity and suffering by creating sustainable opportunities for well-being. Our spiritual and physical mutuality makes my mission necessary, worthwhile and accomplishable. God within is my guide.”