Croatia Week was asked to find out more about the Mission of Father Miro Babic in Kenya. So we talked to one of his Croatian volunteers Ana Josipovic (39) from Zagreb, the former editor of fashion magazines Grazia, Gloria, Cosmopolitan and Stilist, for a more in depth look at life inside the Croatian Mission in the village of Subukia.
What made you decide to become a volunteer in Africa?
I’ve always had that wish deep inside me, but never had the time to make it happen. Then the publishing house stopped the magazine I worked for, so the opportunity to fulfill my wish was there. I decided to take a break from my career for a few months and follow my dream. Ithen sent an e-mail to Father Miro Babic, the young Croatian missionary who runs an orphanage in a remote village of Lower Subukia in Kenya, as I had already heard a lot about his work.My original plan was to stay three months, but it looks like I will stay for one month more.
How did you manage the change compared to life in western civilization?
When I landed in Nairobi, the change hit me right in the face, but I knew I wasn’t going for a luxury holiday. From the moment Father Miro picked me up in Nakuru, 100 miles to the north of Nairobi, in his old rusty jeep, I said goodbye to city life. It took us two hours to drive on the muddy roads to our village that is only 40 miles away! Even Father Miro, nicknamed James Bond for his amazing driving skills,often gets stuck in the deep mud and it can take hours to get out. We repeat the same driving challenge every Sunday when we go all together to the even more remote villages where Father Miro holds his masses. It is a celebration day for each village, and also some kind of entertainment as everyone sings and dances, so we volunteers call it a Sunday Disco. Today I can honestly say, if you want to feel the real joy and praise towards God, then come to Africa!
How many volunteers from Croatia are working in Kenya?
There are three of us currently here and we often have volunteers from other countries, mainly Germany. We help in the orphanage Antony’s Small Home run by Father Miro. It caters for children rejected from their families because of their mental or physical disabilities and also acts as a shelter for healthy children who have lost their parents. The Mission also provides medical care and pays for many surgical operations to help orphans in need to have a better quality of life. Here they eat two to three times a day, which is as a luxury in this region – poor families barely manage to have one meal a day.
What is your day working in the Mission like?
I enjoy spending my days with the children helping with their schoolwork, just playing with them or talking about any problems they might have. I can tell you, they are no different from any other kids in the world! They also struggle with homework, have first love issues or simply would prefer to have a nicer dress. All of them just love playing on our cell phones and they even figure out every app faster than we do! Most of all, they are very modest, honest and well behaved kids just grateful for the smallest things we give them, and they are always fair to each other.
Where do you get the financial support for the Mission?
All of the volunteers have to cover their own living costs. The mission itself is funded from donations received mostly from Croatians living all over the world. Father Miro often says that these good people who are willing to help and donate are the true Missionaries, just as he is, and that their support makes everything possible.
What is the cost of living like in Kenya, for example how far does EUR100 go?
The basic living cost for one child, together with schooling, is about EUR 150 per year. So, you can see that EUR 100 means a lot here! For that amount you can buy two goats, and one goat is enough to ensure a family won’t go hungry. However the majority of people here are unfortunately unable to afford even one goat. A house built of wood and mud is around EUR300, but is the equivalent of a house costing hundreds of thousands of euro’s in the western world.
How has your experience in Africa impacted your life?
Every trip brings new knowledge to help enrich your life. So this experience has definitely brought something new to my life. I don’t think I will ever lose the connection I’ve made with the people of Subukia, the friars and especially the children. I’ll always do my best to help them, and I will come back, that’s for sure.
How can our reader’s find out more about volunteer work or helping the Mission?
People can e-mail Father Miro Babic at [email protected]
If you wish to donate please use bank details bellow:
African account for Father Miro Babic
Name: MIROSLAV BABIC,
Address:P.O.BOX 111, SUBUKIA-KENYA
Registered office:NAKURU BRANCH,
Account/IBAN of the Beneficiary: 22120026545200
BIC (SWIFT address): KCOOKENA
Bank’s name: COOPERATIVE BANK
Bank’s address:P.O.BOX 2982, NAKURU (20100) KENYA
Bank’s registered office: NAKURU BRANCH CODE 11006
Bank’s country: KENYA
broj računa 2340009-1110539216
poziv na broj.3000
E-mail: [email protected]