We dont have any financial resources. All the money we receive comes from abroad, admitted Archbishop Makarios. We have our friends in Cyprus, Greece, America, Australia and Europe.
By any standard, members of the school community live modestly, to say the least. Nonetheless, they all count themselves among Kenyas luckier individuals.
Back at the school, over a plate of cheese, the archbishop and a visiting professor, Evangelos Ioannidis, discussed living conditions on and off campus. A volunteer from Thessalonica, Greece, Professor Ioannidis came to the school to teach seminarians the Greek language.
This is paradise, Professor Ioannidis said about the seminary grounds. Hell is out there, he continued, gesturing to the slum on the other side of the gates. For many young Kenyans, finding employment much less getting an education seems more the stuff of dreams than reality. Deprived of many of lifes basics, these young people have to fight to survive from one day to the next. With few other options, many of them turn to lives of crime.
A gun is the best way to get rich quick in Kenya, said first-year seminarian Isaac Muiruri, who grew up in Riruta Satellite, the district in which the school is located.
Many consider Riruta Satellite among the most dangerous neighborhoods in Kenya. More than a few seminarians and priests have been robbed just outside the campus gates. To protect the community at the seminary, the campus has been tightly sealed, and heavily armed guards stand watch at the gates around the clock.
Seminarian Philip Chasia knows the neighborhoods dangers first hand. I have been robbed several times not once, but several times.
They come in with a gun looking for money, a mobile phone, anything. They come even in the daytime. The police station is just here, not far, but it doesnt matter, he said.
To survive, you have to do something. You just have to find a solution, explained Charles Otieno.
You hear the news. So many people here in Kenya are dying. They do not have enough food to eat. Cattle do not have grass to eat. The government is not going to provide for you. Its just a matter of survival.
But iron gates and armed guards do little to prevent these real-world pressures from seeping into seminary life. Students at the Patriarchal School have differing goals. Some want to complete their studies and become priests. Others wish to continue their education abroad and return to teach.
And some are just here for leisure, Mr. Chasia said frankly. To come here, eat for three years, get an allowance of 3,000 shillings [about $44] a month, and, if assigned to the outside, some bus fare. And life continues.
All seminarians receive a stipend during the nine months of the year they are enrolled in classes. The sum is paltry, especially for the married seminarians who must support wives and children in addition to themselves. (Orthodoxy permits married priests on the condition they marry prior to ordination.) Because the school does not offer seminarians any part-time job opportunities something many would like to see changed the stipend serves as the only source of income for most of them during the academic year.
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