St. Simeon Skete, Taylorsville Kentucky USA

With St. Simeon, the God receiver, as our patron, the skete seeks to practice the ideals found in our Rule, The Thousand Day Nazareth. In simplicity and poverty, the skete embraces the struggle of inner life through the practice of the Prayer Rope.

See our website at

Donations should be addressed to: Nazareth House Apostolate, 185 Captains Cove Drive, Taylorsville, Kentucky 40071.

Important Notice: All writings, posts, graphics & photographs in this blog are the copyrighted property of (unless otherwise indicated) Nazareth House Media, a division of Nazareth House Apostolate and cannot be copied, printed or used without written permission from NHA Media, Taylorsville, KY.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

One Hut Village gets Candy Canes

Report by James Mansaray: Freetown, Sierra Leone:

I realise it has been a while since I last wrote on this blog. I miss reporting and I miss you all so much - especially those contributing in making NHA grow and become more interesting. I've been very busy working, implementing the care and aid that you, through Nazareth House provides for the people of my country. So much to say but I will start with just a few words, and they are actually words of prayer for you all supporting the Nazareth House Apostolate Cause here in Salone (Krio for Sierra Leone).

You won't expect me to jump straight to the activities coming up this year 2009 without first mentioning the last days of the year 2008, would you? As the old year rolls out and the new year slides in; there is so much to reflect on. With your help and support a whole lot has been accomplished. We now look forward to reaching more of the lost, more of the sick, more of those clothed in rags and to make bigger and better differences in the lives of those who are our brothers and sisters in God.

Customarily for NHA, our first priorities are to pray and to love each other and to bring smiles to those who think there is no need to smile. I guess you've all had a visual taste of the tiny red and white stuff called candy canes that Nazareth House has been spreading around Salone. Not all are fortunate to have it but we at NHA have been making it possible for hundreds to have a taste of it for at least once a year.
This time round, our thanks goes to Carlos & Pat Portuondo ( Milford, Connecticut) who kindly provided it for distribution to our kids in memory of our dear friend, Fr. Bob Haux.

Sorry to say it took more than a month traveling in post to get here but it did come, Better late than never - and as Mama Vicki said in earlier blog posts, its usually around the time for dusty Harmattan. No matter when they come, the kids are extremely grateful and happy.

As usual, Roo, Lucy, and Ann Marie were the first to get a bite of the peppermint canes, followed by a handful of kids at Godrich village, and then on to one hut village before reaching the final destination at the Nazareth House Kabala School.

My gratitude to a young man, Alie Jalloh from USA who was here to help me do it all.

Alie was a bit shy to enter into the hut at ONE HUT VILLAGE. It is so different from his life now in America.
Once inside, Alie got a good memory of what it is like to live in a hut such as this and now with these photos you can experience life in a mud hut, too. Notice the simple but strong bed made of wood (Alie must have thought his weight would break it, but it is very sturdy). Click on the photo to enlarge it and you will see that this village is using its Mosquito Netting that Nazareth House Provided last September.

Mohammad seems a bit thin, I think next visit we should concentrate on more food supplies for this village. Mama Vicki treated everyone at One Hut Village for internal worms and from the kids bellies we can see some improvement but we will need another treatment for them soon.

Once back out of the hut, Alie gets back to handing out NHA candy canes.


It doesn't take long before the kids are sucking down the sweet minty sticks. A treat they have never experienced before. Thanks Pat & Carlos and thanks to all of you that make it all possible to do this work. It is a team work, the candy, the funds to make the trip, the other supplies we carried on this trip. NHA has the best team and the best cooperation. Thank you all.


I sign of for now, but look again tomorrow...we have much more to say about candy canes as we reach Kabala and see the students. And you know me, I will be showing you lots of my pictures. See you tomorrow. I love you all, James

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bush Cats & Candy Canes in Salone

As James and Alie Jalloh(from the United States) traveled towards Kabala to distribute the candy canes for the students at Nazareth House Kabala School, they stopped at various villages to hand out candy canes to the children. You never know who or what kind of creature will greet you as you happen upon a town or village. I can attest that most of the time, despite finding some sad conditions, every stop at every village you meet up with a new experience and you leave with new friends that will forever take up residency in your heart. I am sure that Alie is experiencing just that as he journeys from village to village with James.
Here Alie meets up with some children and their pet "bush cat". The strong peppermint/wintergreen aroma from the candy canes tends to disturb the little critter.


However, a walk on James' shoulder tends to calm the creature - although James' seems a bit apprehensive about the whole idea of a bush cat climbing up his sleeve. In fact, in a phone conversation to me James told me "Mama, I was scared!"


Becoming accustomed to the smell of candy canes and lips loudly sucking the sweet candy, the bush cat becomes content and poses for the camera with the children.

Delivering red & white striped smiles

As James continues on his way to Kabala,

one child after another receives a special treat, a candy cane.


The students at Nazareth House Kabala School anxiously wait for their candy canes to arrive. The picture below is of the students receiving their candy canes last year. Be sure to note the difference when you see the students this year receiving the candy canes. These pictures will be posted in the next day or so. When you see this years photos, notice that the students now have school uniforms and a school building - thanks to Nazareth House Apostolate and those who support its endeavors to aid and assist the lives of those in Sierra Leone.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Candy Canes and Harmattan Dust

Each year, shifting winds known as the Harmattan head southward from the Sahara Desert. As it darkens the skies with sandy grit, the dry air also makes for some really cold nights for the people of Sierra Leone, who are used to blustery equatorial weather. The dusty wind can be severe enough to ground airplanes & helicopters. Because of the extremely chilly nights and the dust that aggravates the lungs, most in Sierra Leone see this weather condition as a great nuisance. But for others it's a business opportunity. Charcoal vendors move their product to buyers seeking nighttime warmth.

Secondhand clothes sellers bring out the knit-wool hats, hoodies and ski parkas. Children bang dust out of customers' rugs with broomsticks. For car washers, it's an excellent time to bring in some much needed funds. As you look around, you can see the dusty yellow coating it leaves behind on palm trees...


...and little boys. (click on above photo to enlarge & look closely at his dusty legs)

No matter when Nazareth House Apostolate sends the Annual Candy Cane Treats, it seems they always arrive about the time of Harmattan - when dust in the air coats everything...and everyone.


Notice the dust on these children. You could write your name in the dust on the little boy's belly. Candy Canes and Dust do not make the best combination, but to these children, a few extra gritty particles really didn't matter. A candy cane is such a special treat.

James and his friend Ali recently made the trip from Freetown to Kabala for the annual distribution of candy canes to our students at the Nazareth House Kabala School recently. Along the way, they handed out candy canes to the children they met as they passed village after village.


The young man on the left is sporting a Harmattan dust covered face with a shiny sticky circle around his mouth, evidence of a well licked candy cane!!!

You who are filled with love and compassion for the people of Sierra Leone, are able to express this through Nazareth House Apostolate who delivers that love into a tangible reality. What a team we all are in Nazareth House. Thanks for your support... and the difference you make in the lives of so many... Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Making way for Spring

In America and Europe where this cold Winter weather has been particularly annoying, we long for Spring - New Beginnings, Fresh starts.

Such is the case for Nazareth House Apostolate, the last few months have not been very friendly to us. There have been many severe illnesses, deaths of family and friends, and the unfortunate economic down-turn. A lot of people are struggling.

Its important for us to be kind to everybody, because everyone is having a rough time. The difficult times are magnified in countries such as Sierra Leone. Life is harder. The problems are life threatening, a matter of survival.

In First World Countries, the financial difficulties result in us cutting out some of our extra luxuries and entertainment. We may cut out our monthly gym membership, pay more attention to the groceries we buy, drive less, eat out less, make our clothes last a little longer before we replace them with new. In Third World countries, where figuring out how to provide a meal for one day is already a problem, the situation is much more severe and a matter of life or death. For families who are existing on the equivalent of less than $2.00 US dollars a week, it is impossible to make it with anything less.

As we've reported in prior post - Beginning MARCH 1, 2009, the current lease runs out on St. Laurence House in Freetown Sierra Leone. Our staff, James, Kadijah, Lucy, Ann Marie & little Roo will be left without housing as well as all our medications, supplies and hospital equipment that we store for distribution to the poor. Out on the streets with no place to go.

Nazareth House has been trying to raise money for a compound. Land and Property are being bought up in Sierra Leone fast by the elite & also Foreign Investors ....and at high costs - especially to organizations. We must buy now, while there is availability and before prices are too prohibitive. We've been offered a compound for $250,000 but in all our efforts the money just hasn't been raised. Our hopes have been that we would be able to buy it in March 2009.

Rental property is becoming harder to find in Freetown, especially a place appropriate for our needs. In years past, we've paid rent anywhere from $6,000 to $8,000 a year. This is always required as a prepay for a year. Finding a new rental place is expected to cost $10,000, if we find a suitable place available. Prices are always higher for Organizations.

I don't know how we are going to make this Compound a reality, but I do know that we MUST do it and I know that it is very important. Too many lives are at stake.

Nazareth House depends on donations to exist, to fulfill the needs of the poor. As of late, donations have been down (economy woes are bearing down hard on us). Some are unable to donate at the level they were used to, some have discontinued giving at all. We're all hurt by this economy. All of us at all levels. Our best chance of furthering the work of Nazareth House is to spread the word. If we had 1000 people faithfully giving $25 or more per month we could provide the monthly assistance, maintenance of those we serve (including our school) and also be able to raise the money to buy a compound by next March, 2010. That is...if we end up having to rent again this year... and that is IF, I say IF, we are able to find a suitable place to rent. Currently we have about 60 total Supporters of which 13 regularly give each month. Yeah! Awesome isn't it? We have done so much with so little. Can you imagine the impact if we had an adequate operations center in Freetown AND adequate funding?

Tell your friends, family, co-workers. Remember that YOU are Nazareth House - it is not an organization - you share in the work - you know the results of your contributions by the photos that James' photography talents provide us. Take time to re-look through the photos on the PHOTO WEB ALBUMS of our website and review what you've done over the years for the people in Sierra Leone. View our youtube channel at See it all in action. Look at the children in Kabala who now have a school building, complete with desks and benches, supplies, and uniforms. We cannot allow this work to be placed in jeopardy. We cannot allow these people to once again experience being left out, left behind, discarded & forgotten.

I believe in miracles, there is still the possibility that we can raise the money and buy a compound by March 2009, or at least find a place to rent for the next year. Given our funds of late, I don't know how, but God knows. God knows how much YOUR work through Nazareth House makes a difference in the lives of so many in Sierra Leone. God knows the work, he knows the needs. He knows how hard James, Kadijah and their family work to minister to the poor - night after night, day after day, moment after moment. He knows of our desire to provide a friendly atmosphere and clean environment for the terminally ill to pass on with love and friendship surrounding them. God knows the need for a mini-medical clinic in the neighborhood and our desire to make it a reality. God knows all these things.

Nazareth House relies entirely on God as he expresses Himself through YOU in your prayers, compassion and generosity.

The Seeds have been planted, the soil is tilled. There is so many possibilities to make life better and to minister to God's loved ones in the poor. Its up to you and those you invite into Nazareth House... see it come to FULL BLOOM.

Give Today, commit to monthly donations, invite friends... Lets start the campaign today to reach 1000 people donating $25 per month.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

NHA Candy Canes for Kabala, Sierra Leone

The students of Nazareth House Apostolate School in Kabala, Sierra Leone have become accustomed to their annual Candy Cane gifts that we hand out each year. They have been anxiously waiting their arrival. Mail can be slow during Holiday time, but I am happy to report that the Candy Canes have arrived. This year the candy canes along with pencils were given by Pat Homola-Portuondo and her husband, Carlos from Connecticut.

(click on photos to enlarge) Enough candy was given for each of our students at NHA Kabala School and also there is plenty to hand out in Freetown, as well. The box barely opened, you can see Roo is eagerly cramming one into his mouth, already!
The gift was given in memory of Fr. Robert Haux who had originally planned on providing the candy canes.
Candy such as this is a rare and special treat... as you can see by the huge smiles on Lucy, Ann Marie & Lil' Roo's faces.
When James has regained his strength, he will take the candy canes, pencils and go to Kabala to distribute them. And then, we'll see more happy faces. Thanks Pat & Carlos, what a fantastic gift!

Slowly but surely, we're jumping back into the swing of things

One by one we are experiencing some recoveries from recent illness. In Sierra Leone, James is feeling much better after discontinuing a medicine he received in Freetown which was supposed to be for malaria. Apparently, it is very strong and it knocked James out, keeping him unable to get out of bed. He is doing much better now. Unfortunately, NHA has not been able to provide malaria medication at this time and he obtained the medication at a local Freetown pharmacy.

Here in the States: Mary Langseth, in Louisville had surgery to put a pin in her arm, yesterday and she is doing well. Sweet little Chloe in Georgia is scheduled another platelet test on Friday. Fr. Seraphim's broken hand has some signs of swelling but it seems to be healing. Beth Ridder's mom is "hanging in there" and responding to treatment. Rejunvenation, Spring...Bring it on!!!

A lot is going on in Sierra Leone as we draw closer and closer to our deadline to be expelled from our current residency in Freetown. We have not put much of a dent in raising enough funds to purchase our own place... so we pray and we ask you for your continued support. This is such an important work and we are all a part of it. Spread the word. Tell them what you are doing in Sierra Leone and invite them to join you in making a difference.

Let's give James a few more days to bounce back into shape and we'll have more current pictures and reports from Sierra Leone back up on the blog. Until then, please keep checking back and remember to keep NHA and the people we all serve together - the people of Sierra Leone - in your hearts and minds. Share your work through Nazareth House Apostolate with others.... lets work hard to continue the work.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Think SPRING! Think Rejuvenation!

Hello Everyone,
Please forgive our slow posting of late, it seems we've been bombarded with some illnesses both in Sierra Leone and in the States.

Ah! Fresh Spring, New Beginnings, New Life, Melting Snow...

As 2009 moves forward; We thought we'd share a few memories of Spring 2008 - something to look forward to while we all work hard at healing (and for some of us: THAWING).

Especially keep James in Freetown in your prayers as he recovers from a severe case of malaria and the flu. Thank you.

See you soon, keep checking back.

Peace, blessings and love to all of you,
The Nazareth House Apostolate Staff

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Latest Update on New Born in Freetown

Email received this morning from James in Freetown:

Whats up Girl( Mama)?,

Sorry I was away & silent again yesterday. We were dealing with Binta and Baby. Lil' boy has fever, throwing up and not feeding well on breast so Kadijah and I had to escort a nurse to a doctor at Congo Cross twice yesterday. There was a first appointment in the morning, but the Dr. was not there. Can you imagine that? We had to make another appointment again in the afternoon, again the poor angel baby had to wait for another hour before he was seen. He is under medication. Two of the last cold,cough fever baby medication you sent, the doctor says will workout well for him and Binta now using it to help him out. That did saved some money.

This morning Kadijah made some nice soup for Binta, which I just took to the hospital for her. Both Binta and the baby are ok and still admitted there.

See this was why I was away and I was doing all this sneezing and coughing around with malaria as well. My voice took on a new level and I sound very odd. No time for any singing at all for it will break the walls.

Girls back in school and so is ROO in pre-school. We are all busy and trying to fit into the New Year. More later.

Hope you have a nice day. We keep you in touch.

After reading this email, I immediately called James, concerned that a baby so new would be given medications, especially cold medications that are banned for children under 4 in the States. James assured me that the infant was only taking the fever medication to relieve the high fever it had yesterday. It is not taking the o-t-c cold medications we had sent for older children. He said the child is better today and fever is down considerably.

The baby's father, Anthony, is out trying to secure enough money to pay the increasing hospital fees. Dad is so busy that he has not yet named the child (James joked that the child should be named after him since he is caring for all the baby's first days needs, ha ha.) James and Kadijah are doing all they can to care for Binta and the baby while dad is doing his chores raising money. In Sierra Leone, food, drink, etc is not provided by the hospital for the patient. You must bring your own. Kadijah is tending to Binta's needs, cooking for Binta and sending it with James along with bottled water daily.

The baby's symptoms, to me, do not seem to be flu or cold, yes.. maybe respiratory, but not flu. It is throwing up, coughing as if it has fluid in the lungs, possibly amniotic fluid. I had a problem like this with my second child, she had swallowed amniotic fluid during delivery. They sucked it out and she was fine. I worry that this may be causing infection in the little boy's lungs, hence the fever. This may also be reason for not feeding well. I have informed James of this possibility and he will share it with those treating the baby.

This is part of the frustration, dealing with understaffed, under equipped medical establishments. Many of the medical teams are doing all they can to care for the patients with no ways or means. They struggle moment by moment, case by case to give aid. And there have also been cases where there is a level of dishonesty - untrained medical personnel making random diagnosis in order to collect fees. I'm sure this is a problem in all cultures, all societies, however, when you are struggling day to day to survive - an inaccurate diagnosis can send your hopes and pocketbook spiraling further downhill.

Please keep Binta and the baby boy in your prayers as well as prayers and support for Nazareth House Apostolate so that they may continue and expand their work in Sierra Leone, especially providing much needed medical supplies to hospitals & clinics. At this point, our hands are limited to what we can do since the lease is running out on our rented St. Laurence House on March 1, 2009.

Our storage of supplies & food for the needy, the housing of our staff (James, Kadijah, Lucy, Ann Marie and little Roo), the hopes of providing a Lazarus House for those terminally ill, the hopes of providing a guest house for those to come assists us in giving aid, ...all these are in jeopardy unless we purchase our own property. A dwelling that is not restricted at the control of a landlord (St. Laurence House not allowed to put sign up since we don't own building, limited number of people allowed to visit house, these limitations- which are normal for rental- can and do inhibit our work at times). Proper rental facilities are hard to come by and very cost prohibitive. Ownership is a much more practical route. We have not given up, we are waging an all out campaign to raise the funds before March to accomplish this goal. We've come too far and the work TOO important, we must not back down. We need your prayers and support. Thank You.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Congratulations Anthony and Binta Bangura

Mama Binta and baby boy

Nazareth House Apostolate is pleased to announce the birth of this precious little boy in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Mom (Binta) and baby are doing well. Dad, Anthony, is making his way to Freetown to reunite with his wife and baby. Unfortunately, poor dad was stuck in Makeni during the birth. As is the custom, Anthony will also name the child upon his arrival.

In the name of Nazareth House and St. Laurence House, Kadijah and Lucy, together with James, brought gifts to officially welcome the new child.

This is such wonderful news, not just the birth, but that a timely c-section was performed successfully shows progress being made. Thank God! Have a great Tuesday, everyone!