VC at 60: Volunteer Memories from Angela Temple – 1960s

VC at 60 Memories: Angela Temple 

Angela Temple, from Dublin, is one of VC’s longest serving members. She initially went on a 3 year assignment in the late 1960s to the Diocese of Eldoret in Kenya, East Africa. She then went on assignment to Ngong in Kenya from 1971 to 1978. Angela then returned to Kenya in 1981, this time to Diocese of Lodwar for 2 years and then back to Ngong from 1983 to 1992.

“While serving in the Diocese of Eldoret, my role was primarily involved in the setting up of an administration office for the Diocese and I also worked as secretary to the Bishop,” Angela told us. While in Ngong Angela acted as secretary to the Bishop but also was coordinator of the Women’s Programmes. In Lodwar Angela was a member of the Development Education Programme – this was mainly involved in setting up a Women’s Programme. When in Ngong again, Angela was secretary to the Bishop and again involved in Women’s Programmes – her role was focused on coordinating them and helping them to secure funding for the various projects which they delivered.

While on assignment in each location Angela had a contract with the Bishop in each of the Dioceses but before the going on assignment to Eldoret for the first time, she had been there on a working holiday with the Legion of Mary and had got to know some of the local women, which made it easier to fit in when she went back as a lay missionary with VC. Knowing those local women made it easier for Angela to settle in and make friends.
Some of the challenges that Angela faced included languages! “I’m not good at picking up languages so learning Swahili was very difficult for me. However most of the women who had been to school knew some English so that made it easier to communicate. I picked up some Swahili as I went along. My work as Secretary to the Bishop was all in English so I had no problem with that.”

Climate was another thing that Angela sometimes found hard: “In Lodwar the climate was challenging and I found it hard to get used to the heat, which was why I decided to return to Ngong, which had a very mild climate.”
Due to cultural beliefs and norms, the Maasai men in Ngong were reluctant to let to let women attend the Workshops that were organised for them as part of the Women’s Programme. Angela say “We had to talk to them and persuade them that we were only helping the women to improve their homes! Most of them came round in the end.”
Angela has many happy memories of her time in Kenya but shares one in particular: “I had many happy memories over 21 years. However one that stands out was when I brought the women from one of our workshops to a Centre for Alternative Technology where they learned new ways of building a cement tank for holding rain water. Eventually several of the women built such a tank at their homes and they were very happy not to have to walk long distances every day to collect water.”

Another of Angela’s happiest memories was Mass on Sundays, where Mass was sung from beginning to end and people were in no hurry going home afterwards. “They had an amazing faith and I loved joining with them,” says Angela.

Angela is still in contact with people from her time in Kenya – even though she is home over 20 years. Her time in Kenya helped Angela appreciate what we have here in Ireland in terms of access to services and medical care which the people she lived and worked with did not have.

Angela tells us that she has been a Missionary at home ever since she came home.

Thank you Angela for your service overseas and huge input to VC over the years.