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Mji wa Huruma



Brother Marino in the City of Mercy

20/04/2011: Tanzania - Photo gallery

This text comes to us from Brother Marino. After having devoted himself body and soul to street children and young people in particularly difficult situations in the city of Goma, Democratic Rep. of Congo, we find him at Kigera-Musoma in Tanzania, with marginalized country children, mistreated by life or rather by society, which will having nothing to do with these useless cripples and untouchables.


Who are the inhabitants of this City? And what do they do?

Many have read « The city of Joy » by Dominique Lapierre. Let me tell you about the City of Mercy, Mji wa Huruma. SHIKAMOO! My respects! Literally, I clasp your feet, I throw myself at your feet. SHIKAMO to you, Babayo, Consolata, Pedero, Alfonso, Godfrey, Michaël, Francesco, Sofia, Bahati and all the others.

Me, the last-comer, I owe you respect; accept me as your servant, your friend, your brother. Kigera is a place Google Earth cannot yet locate; it is one of the three centres where Father Biseko, a charismatic priest, simple and dignified in his patched clothes and « Good Year » ( car tyre) sandals, has established  MJI wa HURUMA, the City of Mercy.

Kigera is an isolated place, secluded and protected by the thorn bushes which grow in this arid zone. It is where the « SERVANTS OF LOVE » welcome the ‘refuse’ of society: lost children, decrepit old men, sick people on their last lap, the useless, the unproductive, the uninteresting. Here, however, they are welcome.

Deprived of any material possessions, deformed in body, atrophied in intelligence…, that is the password to enter the gates of Mji wa Huruma. They enter a family, perhaps because of the spark of life which still burns in their look, heart, spirit?

Their sole wealth is their poverty and in that they are our Masters. I have nothing…, I have only myself, this is only me. Here I am for you who need me.


The first to greet you is Babayo, with the strength and face of an orang-outang; his look sometimes empty, at other times full of humanity, something to be jealous of! For the Lord, it is always « carnival »; all the masks of the very poor are his, all reflect his Face.

Someone in this young man’s family judged it good to break the metatarsals of both his feet to stop him moving about. The joints of the bones are clearly visible, and yet Babayo travels distances that healthy people cannot consider.

Consolata, a young paralytic, with Aids as well, eyes huge in her face emaciated by the illness, plays the role of DJ! Her religious music makes the lame dance and the handicapped mental, all music lovers and indefatigable dancers.

Edina, epileptic and simple in mind, brings joy to us all; there is nomorose person who can resist her. All day, every day, she does nothing but smile and laugh… without teeth! Her former teeth were broken and pulled out! Thus, as an epileptic, she would not be able to bite or cut her tongue… But who was it who had the bright idea of depriving her of the white pearls of her mouth?

Pedero, former leper, has only stumps at the end of his four limbs. But do you think that lessens his enthusiasm? With what elegance and dignity you should see him eat, dress himself or take hold of snakes…, place your hands in « his ».

The youngest children are a colony of fledglings who fly everywhere, all the time. Their chirping invites the sun not to be slow in sending his rays over the horizon. When they are not under medical care, their mother is,… Obama, Titi, Francesco, Fredy, John,… everyone’s children, no one’s children. They are there, with no lack of paternal and maternal affection from the SERVANTS OF LOVE.

John, at his birth his mother left him with us, running away to live her life. Intelligent, mischievous, clever, beater of the tamtam and dancer without peer… If his mother saw him, she would take him back and we would lose him. Young men and young girls, ripened in the affection and education of Mji wa Huruma are preparing to take their flight into life. Chacha, shepherd, will become a cattle-raiser, after having looked after the animals; Rudy will be a miller…, Katarina, pretty and slender, will find a good match. Her father is also in the centre…, but she does not know. He has not the courage to tell her that he called her to life when he was old enough to be her great-grandfather…


But who then makes the place run? Volunteers, strong, devoted women, tireless because their faith « boosts » them.  Charity is their main occupation. Men volunteers: all works, all missions, 24h/24 and 7d/7. Naturally, in the church, in prayer, when they are not at work.  Father Biseko, the « Champagnat » of the CHARITY HOMES; Father Michaël Bassano of  Maryknoll and I, Brother Marino, ever and always in the breach, whether it is with the children and youth of the streets of Goma or those of Mji wa Huruma. And tomorrow, wherever the Lord will lead me.

In the CHARITY HOMES, the conditions of life are those of the humble people of the surrounding villages. We live on the charity of our benefactors and by our work... We participate financially by paying for our meals, our transport. Our salary is the joy of being at the service of our Masters…, but whom HE calls « mine », « my sheep », « my lambs », « my little ones »…

Since my arrival, I have been at work on repairs: windows, doors, tables and chairs… Champagnat! How many times I have thought of you! And of your table at the Hermitage; not cabinet-making but carpentry.

The windpump which provides us with water also gives us a lot of trouble... It has cost me many days of hard work, under an implacable sun, to convince it to pump us our daily supply…


Of immediate urgency, on the roof of the church, some solutions for repairs have been applied... An efficient patching up after years of rain and leaking. The church roof can be repaired for 2,000 – 2,500 euros, the kitchens for 2,500, the men’s wash rooms for 1,500, the wash-house for 2,000, the arrangement of the sanitary services for 2,000… But also a pickup truck, even a second hand one, would be welcome to serve us as a work mule…

Personally, I would choose the following order: windpump, kitchens, wash-house; they are the places that cause us most work and trouble. And something to provide transport and mobility.


Brother Marino

N.B.: And certainly, come and see us; you will discover like me, like everyone, like Fr. Vanier, that one receives from these people more than one gives. Much more.

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