Father Mathias Wambua is a diocesan priest with the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi in Kenya. Born and raised in Kenya in a rural village called Makaani, he currently serves as parochial vicar at San Francisco’s Star of the Sea parish.
At Star of the Sea, Father Matthias’s ministry includes celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, instructing the people, leading the faithful at special devotions. But he has not forgotten the needs of his homeland. In 2017, supported by Star’s pastor and parishioners, he opened the Star of the Sea Medical Clinic on the outskirts of Kitengela town, in Kenya’s Kajiado County.
Father Matthias: “Maasai community initially occupied Kajiado, but people from other Kenyan tribes and foreigners have since moved in. The Maasai are nomadic cattle herders, although some members of this community practice subsistence agriculture. The Maasai consider cattle a sacred gift from God and regard them as a sign of wealth. Other residents of Kajiado county include the Agikuyu, Ameru, Kalenjins, Akamba, Abaluhya, Luo, among other tribes. Other people of foreign origin have settled in Kajiado.
“Although there are several hospitals and health centers in Kajiado county, the state of healthcare in the rural areas is in deplorable shape, and residents walk for long distances to access medical facilities. At the same time, some are not able to access health care due to the high cost.”
Star of the Sea medical services was blessed and opened (by Rev. Fr. Mathias Wambua) as a community-based program to give back to the community in 2017.
“Currently, the clinic sees an average of 28 patients daily on an outpatient basis, with the maternity and child welfare services receiving an increasing number of clients daily since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many households lack basic amenities like food and proper shelter since most workers were laid off from their jobs. As a result, the facility staff has offered free door-to-door medical check-up to those living around the medical clinic.
“There are several who work at the clinic and ensure things are flowing. Some volunteer their time and services and gain experience before they are employed in more prominent hospitals. I thank Philip, our In-charge at the facility, for working tirelessly and always being there since the clinic’s opening. The young children of Star of the Sea donated a fridge for storing vaccines; parishioners donated other hospital equipment.”
Father Mathias wants to turn the clinic into a 20-bed hospital. “We have acquired two parcels of land for the construction of a modern hospital; we want to be able to drill a borehole to supplement the scarce water supply. We hope to expand the maternity and child welfare clinic to contribute to Kenya’s vision 2030 strategic plan by achieving zero maternal and child death during labor and childbirth.”
Star of the Sea’s pastor, Father Joseph Illo, said: “Imagine a parish building an entire hospital in Africa!”
A map of the area where the hospital will be built.
The above story is a California Catholic Daily exclusive by Gibbons Cooney.