The St. Monica Catholic Community (SMCC) is hosting an Opera Gala Benefit Concert to raise funds for health care of mothers and children living in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.
According to a study done in 2014 by the United Nations Population Fund, 3,759 women die for every 100,000 live births in Kenya. It is the most dangerous place to give birth and St. Monica’s is supporting medical facilities associated with a church group in Dandora, an eastern suburb in Nairobi, Kenya.
In 2002 St. Monica Catholic Community created a relationship with Holy Cross Dandora Parish facilitated by Monsignor Bob Down, a Priest of the Holy Cross was in residence at St. Monica while pursuing graduate studies. He introduced St. Monica Catholic Church to Holy Cross in Dandora and the relationship continues to grow, as Holy Cross is the sister parish to SMCC.
The Dandora community expressed their desperate need for safe and clean maternity services. In response St. Monica teamed up with New Dawn Africa, a Dandora based non-profit, to help make their dream become a reality.
“The interest in the project arose from our church’s mission statement, to form loving disciples who will transform the world”, said Dr. Dale Sieverding, Director of Worship at St. Monica Catholic Community.
New Dawn Africa, Inc. was created in 2013 to assist women and the community for maternal healthcare. The organization facilitated the construction of Our Lady of Visitation, a state of the art Maternal Child Health Center. The facility is located on the ground of Holy Cross Parish, Dandora.
“Dandora women have no place to go in their own community to receive safe and clean, dignity-based compassionate maternal care,” said New Dawn Africa, Inc. President, Jill Origer Tabit in a recent press release. “Nairobi hospitals are out of reach for most due to the distance or cost.”
In June of 2016, SMCC helped the Maternal Child Health Center officially open along with opening a brand new church, St. Andre Beset.
SMCC is now looking to the community to help the new Health Center grow, by hosting the Opera Gala Benefit Concert.
“The hospital is new, so there are a couple areas that are still not open including a NICU and dental clinic,” said Sieverding. “From the benefit 100% of the proceeds will be dedicated to the new maternity and children’s hospital in Dandora.”
Soprano Golda Berkman, tenor Landon Shaw II and a chamber orchestra conducted by Southeast Symphony Artistic Director Anthony R. Parnther will perform at the benefit.
This benefit will be Berkman’s farewell to her Southern California audiences, as she will graduate in June and move to Italy to study with the worlds top opera teachers.
“I am going to give it my all at this event,” said Berkman. “I have been fortunate enough to be in various concerts at St. Monica’s, and I have seen them do amazing work. I am happy my performance can help change the lives of the women and children living in Dandora.”
The 8 p.m. concert will take place at the church. 725 California Ave., Santa Monica. Tickets are $20 general and $50 VIP seating along with a pre concert reception. After the concert, there will be a complimentary post concert hors d’oeuvre and desserts reception hosted by concert sponsor Urth Caffe. You can purchase tickets at the church, all Urth Caffe locations and online at www.stmonica.net/AFRICA.