From Warrnambool to the slums of Nairobi: In conversation with Br Frank O’Shea

Friday 24 November 2017

Media and Communications Office  
Shane Healy, Director of Media and Communications, recently met with Brother Frank O’Shea, Director of the Ruben Centre. The centre, often referred to as an ‘oasis’, is a gated complex located in the Mukuru slum in Nairobi, Kenya.
The charismatic Br O’Shea, who has been based in Nairobi since 2010, revealed his winding journey that has taken him from Tonga to Tanzania, as well as extended spells in Sudan and most recently Kenya.

Shane quizzed Br O’Shea on his childhood and how a man self-described as ‘more Crocodile Dundee than Mother Teresa’ found his way from Warrnambool to the Mukuru slum.
The slum, home to 700,000 people, is one of the largest in Nairobi and is made up of a tangling maze of shanty structures. Shortly after Br O’Shea arrived in Mukuru, he established two classrooms that have since flourished into a primary school accommodating 2500 students. The Ruben Centre is also home to medical clinics, gardens and a newly built radio station, all of which have been launched with the assistance and guidance of Br O’Shea.

Br O’Shea was one of 13 children grew up on a dairy farm and attended Warrnambool’s Christian Brothers College. The college, which was inspired by the Christian Brothers founder Edmund Rice, did not initially interest Br O’Shea. However, after 12 months working on the family farm, Br O’Shea felt a calling from God and returned to the college eager to become a Christian Brother.

He was soon sent to Tonga to establish a presence for the Christian Brothers. He played international cricket for the Pacific island nation, before finding himself in Tanzania and then South Sudan.

Br O’Shea worked in prisons and refugee camps while avoiding the now-infamous Joseph Kony and the Lord Resistance Army. Expecting to return home to Australia, Br O’Shea visited the Ruben Centre and was quickly drawn to its potential to change the lives of Mukuru’s inhabitants.

Now the director of the centre, Br O’Shea oversees the management of 28 programs that include pre-school programs, vocational training, sexual and gender-based violence prevention programs and Ruben FM. The Ruben Centre continues to expand and frequently welcomes newcomers to its programs and Br O’Shea harbours strong desires to introduce a secondary school.

While Mukuru remains one of Nairobi’s poorest communities, the Ruben Centre is a liberating environment for its participants. For more information on the Ruben Centre, visit:

Br O’Shea and the Christian Brothers’ positive influence in Mukuru, stems from the teachings and support of the Edmund Rice Foundation, an organisation that this year alone has pledged over $350,000 to the Ruben Centre project. To donate to the Ruben Centre and other life-changing missions, visit
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