Music and joy were everywhere...
This was the scene as Pope Francis entered the church of St. Joseph the Worker in Kangemi, one of Nairobi's most marginalized neighborhoods.
First, the Pope signed the parish's Book of Honor. And then he was greeted by the parish's priest and Archbishop Martin Kivuva.
"I am very humbled to thank you, Your Holiness Pope Francis, to have chosen to visit St. Joseph the Worker church in Kangemi.”
"Indeed your Holiness today is a beautiful and a happy day in our church of Kangemi.”
The Pope also heard testimony from one of the neighborhood's residents, Pamela Akwende. She told the Pope about how life is hard in her area and that many families live on less than a dollar per day. She made a request.
"Your Holiness, Papa, it is my humble request to you to ask our government to improve service provisions in informal settlements.”
The Pope first thanked everyone in English before giving prepared remarks in Spanish. He told everyone that he felt at home with them.
"I feel very much at home sharing these moments with brothers and sisters who, and I am not ashamed to say this, have a special place in my life and my decisions. I am here because I want you to know that your joys and hopes, your troubles and your sorrows, are not indifferent to me.”
The Pope praised the value of these neighborhoods, where he said there is a great culture of solidarity.
"I want in first place to uphold these values which you practice, values which are not quoted in the stock exchange, are not subject to speculation, and have no market price. I congratulate you, I accompany you and I want you to know that the Lord never forgets you.”
At the same time, he denounced the "atrocious injustice of urban marginalization.”
"These are wounds inflicted by minorities who cling to power and wealth, who selfishly squander while a growing majority is forced to flee to abandoned, filthy and run-down peripheries.”
The Pope called for a fair distribution of land and said that these kinds of neighborhoods deserve infrastructure like sewers, garbage collection, schools, and hospitals. He added that everyone must have access to drinking water.
These problems, the Pope explained, result from "new forms of colonialism” that treat Africa countries like nothing more than pieces of a giant machine.
About 100,000 people live in the Kangemi neighborhood, and the parish Pope Francis visited is managed by local Jesuits.