Shining A Light on the Dark Continent

U.S. and Kenyan Chaplains Meet

One of the more exciting aspects of Dave’s job in Africa was military and religious engagement and he experienced both when he and his boss met with the three  principal chaplains of the Kenyan Military, Col. Alfred Rotich, a Roman Catholic bishop; Col. Paul Simiyu, an Anglican bishop; and Lt. Col.Mohammed Ahmed, a Muslim imam in Kenya.

When Dave and his boss arrived at the Kenyan Ministry of Defense (KMOD) headquarters, on March 3, 2011, they were surprised to see Brig. General Philip Lepako, the chief of personnel, and two majors in attendance as well.

“It is interesting to see how much we have in common, like family separation due to deployments and duties, extended family, media, unemployment, and alcohol and other addiction issues,” Dave said.

Dave, right, enjoys a cup of coffee with Kenyan chaplains Col. Alfred Rotich, left, and Lt. Col. Mohammed Ahmed.
Dave, right, enjoys a cup of coffee with Kenyan chaplains Col. Alfred Rotich, left, and Lt. Col. Mohammed Ahmed.

The principle Kenyan chaplains were mainly concerned about training issues for their 100 chaplains. They wanted to exchange ideas on training:

  • People to staff a resource center.
  • Of chaplain assistants. They were very impressed with the chaplain assistants they met at a conference in Germany.
  • Chaplains in advising the military leadership and more visibility of the chaplain.

“The KMOD became really interested in working with us when they found out I was an instructor at the United States Air Force Chaplain Service Institute a few years ago,” Dave said.

Plans to bring the three principal Kenyan chaplains to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti would take some coördination with the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Africa Command and the Navy Region in Naples, Italy, but it was feasible. Brig. Gen Lepako said a formal invitation was necessary to start the process on the Kenyan side, but the request would proceed quickly.

“I was excited because this was a new, fresh idea, something I could apply my skills set to, and most of all, build friendships while helping another country’s chaplain corps grow and develop,” Dave said.

Although Dave laid the groundwork for the program, he came home from his deployment before it took place. His replacement said it was a resounding success.

For more on the program, see Kenyan Chaplains Visit Camp Lemonnier.

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