Two St. John's University students — Raelynne Lee ’11C,
enrolled in the M.A. in Global Development program, and Nicholas
Macri ’11TCB — traveled to Ethiopia and Kenya this past summer
Lay Missionaries (VLM).
A program based in the United States, the VLM are men and women
who commit to serving those in need in Kenya and Ethiopia with the
Daughters of Charity for a period of four to six weeks.
In addition to the students, four women served in Bahir Dar,
Ethiopia; six women and one man volunteered in three different
sites in Kenya. In July, the group taught English to children in
Ethiopia. In August, Lee and Macri traveled to Kenya to help
organize camps for local children.
During their first two weeks in Kenya, Lee and
Macri hosted a camp in two different villages. They spent the
morning helping children with arts and crafts. After lunch, they
brought them outside to play games throughout the afternoon. "One
thing I realized," said Lee, "is that all over the world, kids will
be kids. They will laugh, sing, scream, fight, be aggressive and
love — that's exactly how it was with the children in
In Chepnyal, Kenya, Lee and Macri participated in several
service activities. They ate lunch, danced and shared tea with a
group of elderly Pokot; organized a Fun Day for children with
disabilities; and worked with groups of local women who had
businesses or wanted to start one.
Working with the groups greatly impacted Lee. Previous to her
experience, she said, she had not realized how women struggle in
developing countries. The goals of the VLM included bringing the
women together, encouraging them to work collectively and better
understanding them and the issues they face. "Their stories and
their motivation to achieve were truly inspirational," Macri added.
"Working with these women broadened my horizons and showed me there
is more out there. It's not necessary to get a job on Wall Street
or work for a Fortune 500 company. We can work toward the common
Lee and Macri said they will continue their service by sharing
their stories on campus and mentoring those who decide to
participate as Vincentian Lay Missionaries in 2013.
To learn more about the Vincentian Lay Missionaries, contact
Stephen DeBlasio (Staten Island campus) at email@example.com; or
Kate Giancatarino (Queens campus) at firstname.lastname@example.org.