Thursday, July 25, 2013

A New Tool for Peace Ambassadors

The Action Inter-Ethnic Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation Project Peace Ambassadors have managed to create and use meaningful dialogue as a tool for peace building and reconciliation in Kibera. The concept is such that there is a realization that members of the society have always had a feeling that they can offer possible solutions to their problems if given a chance. In most dialogue forums that The Action has attended, the feedback has been that the society members feel relieved and pour out their fears, aspirations and needs more freely when there is a free for all dialogue platforms. The sessions are normally structured in a way that problems are highlighted, discussed and possible solutions and points of actions drawn.

Ole giving practical training to the PMC
 In the month of July, The Action team received a boost from Hand the Ball Foundation on how handball can be used as a tool to enhance dialogue in the society. In a training of trainers organised by the Danish organisation (Hand the Ball) members of the Action were introduced to a concept so unique and fun to apply. The process emphasizes on the unique strength found in the power of group play. In a society where people find it hard to create time for play, Hand the Ball introduces activities build on insights into the positive of mental and social effects of physical group activities. The residents of Kibera sometimes get themselves warped in isolation of the mind and spirit. The practice shall see them move out of such entrapments and reach out to the other for meaningful engagement and dialogue.

Furthermore, the idea of competition for everything in the Kibera society is not new. To people living and
Hand the Ball in Practice
working in Kibera, there is always a sense of competition on whatever an individual does. Schools are no longer centres of academic enlightenment but a place to score high grades and beat the other opponent in exams. Churches operate with a sense of outdoing each other than avenues for spiritual growth. There is a massive scramble for the little resources available and people are constantly scheming against one another, a fact that has seen the rise of violence and mistrust. The peace ambassadors shall adopt the concept of non competition that is employed in Hand the Ball activities to diffuse the tension arising from the extensive competition in the society.

The most important tool to learn while using Hand the Ball activities as a tool for dialogue is that communication becomes an inherent part of interacting and the main focus is cast on fun, team dynamics and collective play.  The peace ambassadors therefore shall be called to provide an avenue of constructive play and meaningful dialogue, by first offering the community members in any forum, school, churches, seminars, with a ball to show that ownership is open to every individual in the society. The said balls will be used to initiate dialogue and preferably also be used  to offer a platform for fun and play, thereby giving a chance to learn, act and have fun.

Story By:
Ramogi Osewe
PMC Member

This project is supported by The European Union

Consolidating the Gains...

The Action members arriving for a community forum
Kibera is a place of many complexities. In the late 1990's running to the early 2000, the major issue that used to create crisis now and then was the landlord-tenant issue. A problem that was caused by misunderstanding from both parties, it at one time brought a major violence that it took the government and elders intervention to see it end. Then there was the political party youth wingers who were a law to themselves. the issue was such a big threat that some residents decided to leave Kibera and seek settlement somewhere. this was followed by the political cashes whose major impact was seen in 2008 post election violence. in the post election violence, the politically instigated violence took a shape of ethnic communities fighting one another. while peace initiatives in Kibera, The Action included, did a major work in restoring peace during the just concluded elections, Stellamaris Ndunge, a resident of Mashimoni believes there is another emerging potential threat to peace.

Here is the story:     

“I first attended the project activities during the Opinion Shapers Forum held at Anglican Church of Kenya Church in Makina. It was such an amazing thing to see groupings that have always been fighting each other sit at the table and talk to one another. I personally know the people who were invited for the occasion and could not believe that such hard-liners were really listening to one another. The event challenged me a lot. In Kibera, I can say that ethnic communities are now metamorphosing to class and territorial groupings. These groupings pose real danger to the community than the ethnic divides that were earlier experienced.

As such, in the past two months, and even earlier before that, I have embarked on a journey to reach out to these youth groupings and make them see that they need each other, other than creating territories that are out of bounds to those who do not belong. I see this as a significant realisation because not so many people have seen the dangers lying in these groupings. It shall be very hard in the future for Kibera to work together if people are already grouping and regrouping along class, territories, peer and villages circle.

The project activities made me realise a potential threat to community harmony. It made me realise that the emerging situation in Kibera might be harder to manage the already than existing problem of people divided along ethnic lines. Whereas people from same ethnic communities may share very little apart from the language and culture, people from the same class or religion share same beliefs, ideologies, way of life and have unseen common bond. It will be very hard to contain a situation of ideological and philosophical differences.”

The story has a silver lining though. The Kibera populace has acquired major awareness in peace building and reconciliation as tools for peaceful co-existence. the lady believes something can be done. The Kibera society would not sit back and watch as gains made are watered down by few individuals. there are ways and there is a willingness too.

Story Compiled By:
Ramogi Osewe
PMC Member

This project is supported by the European Union