, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 27 – Teresa Wanjira, a young mother in Kangemi was the happiest person who could not hide her joy soon after the Pope stepped out of the church.
She was overjoyed as she recounted the moment when she and her four year old son shook hands with the Pope.
“I had prayed the Novena (catholic prayers). My wish was to shake hands with the Pope. I am very excited I shook hands with him. My son was also lucky. He got to shake hands with him. His dream has come true,” she said.
Her son was among the 50 children sitting at the back of St Joseph’s the Worker Catholic Church in Kangemi.
Pope Francis walked from the front side of the church where he was sitting through the middle shaking hands with as many people as he could.
He walked up to where the children were and even entered the small cubicle like area to shake hands with them.
He bent down to their level to give them the jovial handshakes.
The children some of them as young as one year old called, the pope ‘Baba, baba’ to attract his attention.
He dedicated quite some time shaking their little hands even with some referred to him as ‘baa, baa’.
Pope Francis was supposed to spend one hour with the more than 1,200 people selected from 11 slums.
But he spent more than one hour with them. As expected, the number had also increased.
His speech to the people was long and related to the lives of slum dwellers who grapple with a myriad of challenges including lack of the most basic needs.
Outside the church, hundreds of others stood and were lucky to see the Pope entering and leaving the church.
They waved and smiled back to the Pope who had his hand on air waving back.
Inside the church, the mood was celebratory. Pomp and colour crowned the moment with the Pope.
People joined the choir in thanksgiving and praise songs.
Most of them later described the Pope’s speech as powerful and uplifting.
Joseph Ouko who had travelled from Kibera said: “I am very happy, a person as high and important as the Pope coming to talk to people living in the slum and speak to very poor people, the Pope loves poor people. He listened to our views as the slums dwellers. He does not view people in their classes but views all of them equally.”
11 year old Sheila Wadio was among the girls who danced during the procession of the bible.
She recalled that the Pope asked them to pray for him.
“I am very happy because we had been told that the pope would come. Actually he came. He told us to pray for him.”
George Gatiba, a resident in Kangemi liked most of the Pope’s message on love and supporting needy people.
But even as they celebrated the visit and the recognition they had received, their hope is that Kenyans especially the leaders will heed his messages of peace, compassion and love for all.