The role of the church in alleviating rural poverty: a study of activities of the Roman Catholic church and the church of the province of Kenya in Kisumu and Siaya districts
Interest to examine the role of the church in alleviation of rural poverty was sparked off by a course offered in the Religious studies Department entitled, Church Bnd Society. Cur primary objective in conducting this research was to examine the role that the Roman Catholic Church and the C.P.K. in Kisumu and Siaya Districts are playing towards alleviation of rural poverty. The focus of this research was on those programmes which are geared towards the alleviation of the suffering and poverty of the widows, the orphans, the aged, the physically disabled and the unemployed. Examination of other related programmes was also made, especially where they merged with those of our group of the poor. The survey sought to describe each programme, give insight to the state of the poor, evaluate the programmes and define the opportunities and need for additional efforts that can help the church have other effective programmes. Information for this thesis was based on written materials and data collected from the field. A total sample of 305 respondents were interviewed through questionnaires, while others were informally consulted to verify the received through the questionnaires. Observation was also used to gather data. Analysis involved tabulation and interpretation of the tables, which was reported in descriptive form. From our research findings, it was evident that, alleviation of poverty and the suffering of the poor, has become part and parcel of the mission of the church. But, there was a further evidence that, even though this is the case, the call to alleviate poverty has not received desired responses from both the clergy and the laity. Some still envisage a conflict between a ministry that provides for peoples' material needs, and that which provides for spiritual needs. Attempts to make widows self-reliant, has shown some good results. The church however, has not been able to provide much solution to their physical meeds. Generally, the physically disabled suffer the most among the categories of the poor since they have fewer programmes that cater for their needs. There is however evidence, that quite a number of them, have been helped to overcome their dependency, because they can now earn their living. The church's effort to alle- viate the unemployment problem is particularly hampered by lack of funds and shortage of personnel who can train the unemployed to became self reliant through self employed after learning basic skills. Six main approaches that are being used by the church to alleviate poverty and the suffering of the poor are: (1) Family Development Approach - where bath needs of individuals families and individual members in those families are cartered for. (2) Self Reliant Approach - which attempts to eradicate the problem of dependency of recipients. Much emphasis is given to this approach because it is seen as the key to success in alleviating poverty of the poor. (3) Educational Approach - is the priority in church programmes. Children from poor families are usually sponsored to receive primary education. Education of the poor children is offered through provision of school uniforms and building funds, since most of the poor parents find it difficult to send their children to school because they cannot afford to buy school uniforms, or raise money for school funds. (A) Christian Community Approach - Where the church uses its fellowship or worship groups to promote its programmes. A number of poor people have been helped through such groups, and rural development projects also established. (5) Rural Development Approach - where the church has reached the people through its development work. Government interest in thiB area has boosted the church's keeness in offering her ministry through medical, educational and agricultural activities. (6) Evangelistic Approach - wherd spiritual promotion of the recipients, is part and parcel of the church's mission towards the welfare of the”>poor. Prayer and bible readings are common elements used to instil spiritual awareness in the people.
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