-By Tara Bitterly
The Maryknoll Affiliates program is an important part of Red Bank Catholic's dedication to supporting the church's missionary work in developing nations. In fact, RBC is the only high school in the country that has established an official relationship with Maryknoll. Needless to say, the Maryknoll Affiliates are a clear reflection of RBC's devotion to missionary work around the world.
Many of the RBC students do not realize that in supporting the Maryknoll Affiliates they are not only helping children around the world, but they are also helping one of their own. Kathy Jones Dunford, a 1961 graduate of RBC, is a Maryknoll Lay Missionary in Kiminini, Kenya. RBC is fortunate enough to remain in contact with her. This connection provides a direct link between Red Bank Catholic and the poverty-stricken country of Kenya.
After graduating Red Bank Catholic, Kathy Jones Dunford became a physician's assistant. In 1975, she completed her training at Cornell University Medical Center in New York City. As a single parent, Dunford dedicated much of her time to raising her two sons, both of whom she put through college. Since the 1990's, she had aspired to work overseas. She was always inspired by the work of Mother Teresa. Little did she know that she would eventually follow in her role model's footsteps.
After a three-month orientation program at Maryknoll in Ossining, New York, Dunford was sent to Kenya on January 2009. Once she entered Kenya, she was horrified by the level of poverty the average person endures. Therefore, she provides medical care to those who desperately need it. She witnesses the struggle of those with life-threatening illnesses on a daily basis. Primarily, the diseases she encounters the most are malaria, pneumonia, and upper respiratory infections. Children especially run the risk of dying from malaria if treatment is not immediate.
Dunford describes the people of Kenya as "wonderful, hard-working, persevering, and hopeful for the future, despite the hardships they have." She has developed many special relationships through her work in Kenya. In particular, she requests the prayers of the RBC community for one of her patients, Cornelia. Cornelia is recovering from malaria. Her husband works three hundred miles away, a situation typical to Kenyan couples, and they have two teenagers and a set of twins. Her husband recently got into an accident en rout to his family, and prayers are needed to speed his recovery.
RBC's contribution to Maryknoll is fairly common knowledge. The school offers bake sales, dress down days, and various other fundraisers to support this organization. However, most students do not realize that in purchasing ice cream or wearing jeans, they are actually enabling the successful endeavors of a fellow Casey who works to change lives every day.