(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is scheduled to undertake a three-nation Apostolic Visit to Africa this week.
He leaves the Vatican on the morning of Wednesday, 25 Nov., and is scheduled to land in the early evening in Nairobi – Kenya – on the first leg of the trip that will also take him to Uganda and to Central African
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni is in Nairobi where she is waiting for the Pope to arrive. She sent us this report.
One of the highlights of our day here in Nairobi was definitely the sound of Fr Richard’s familiar voice, loud and clear, on the taxi radio as we wove through heavy downtown traffic.
Yes, it’s true, Vatican Radio really is listened to all over the world, and as Alex, our driver, confirmed, the Kiswahili Programme ranks high on the popularity charts, especially now as Kenya prepares to welcome Pope Francis on his very first visit to the African continent.
Meanwhile, the sprawling Kangemi slum that the Pope is going to visit - and that we were on our way to see - is one of seven slums in Nairobi alone.
You can’t miss it because it’s right in the middle of the bustling business hub that Nairobi has become as the nation continues to grow as a rising economic force in Africa - as witnessed by the hundreds of construction sites, shopping centres and the unmistakable buzz of business in the making.
And that’s also why the shocking poverty in which its 650,000 inhabitants live is a stark and uncomfortable reminder of the widening gap and harrowing divide that separates the few that have much more than enough, and the many who go to bed with a big hole in their stomachs because they have no food and no future.
But a visit to the Parish of St. Joseph the Worker in Kangemi, feverishly preparing to receive Pope Francis on Friday, gave me the chance to chat to some of the faithful polishing the floors of the Church, practicing their songs, making the small garden as beautiful as it can be.
When I asked them what their appeals to Pope Francis will be when he visits the nation this is what they told me:
That he may deliver a message of peace and encourage religious tolerance and mutual acceptance;
That he may be able to lead us on the right path;
That he pray for families and that the youth stay away from drug abuse;
That he may address issues of corruption, tribalism, terrorism and encourage our political leaders to preach peace and unity instead of divisive politics.
And finally, as Beth so beautifully put it: “We are inspired by his humility. May all those in positions of leadership emulate him by putting God and the needs of the less fortunate in society first. Francis - she said - you are an inspiration to many!”
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