When Fr Eliud Mwenda was sent to Mukothima Catholic Parish in Eastern Kenya, he hoped to serve as a clergyman, leading his congregation in matters faith. But a decade later, the Catholic priest has led numerous development projects in the area. He shares this story of transformation, and how a university course helped him maximize the impact of his work. He shares his story with Lilian Kaivilu.
Born in a family of four boys and one girl, Eliud Mwenda lost his father 30 years ago. But all was not lost as the local church supported his education, a gesture he says made him committed to give back to the community by supporting vulnerable children. His present role as a priest in Mukothima Catholic Parish has given him a better platform to expand his service to the community. “I am a Roman Catholic priest with 14 years in priesthood working in Mukothima Catholic parish. I have served in this parish for 10 years.”
In 2013 the Consolata missionary congregation was getting out of Mukothima parish where Fr Eliud is in charge. “I had been posted there about four years as a priest. The community knew priests as rich white people. The immediate former priest in this area was Italian and he helped many vulnerable children, especially girls, acquire decent education.”
For the priest, inheriting these children meant being strategic about a long-term solution to the challenges that they faced. This is what inspired Fr Eliud to put to use, a huge farm in the area. “I installed water and electricity in the farm and bought vehicles to facilitate effective agricultural activities in the farm.”
Training Programme that scaled up my community work
Seeing his zeal to transform the community, the area bishop Bishop in 2016 enrolled Fr Mwenda in Tangaza University for a course on Business Management and Entrepreneurship specialized in Agribusiness. He pursued the course to Masters level. “The course had changed my life a lot and I am now more strategic and professional in the farm activities,” he says.
According to Fr Eliud, the initiative faces challenges such as drought, unpredictable rain patterns, high cost of electricity, resistance of some crops by the community as well as high cost of production. He explains: “Pumping water has become more costly as we incur up to $800 per month owing to the rising electricity cost in the country.”