I am Pax Christi, Women and Peacemaking

The #IAmPaxChristi interview: Kanini Kimau, Horn of Africa Grassroots Peace Forum

In this latest installment of the #IamPaxChristi interview, we’re profiling Elizabeth Kanini Kimau of the Horn of Africa Grassroots Peace Forum which works in Kenya and South Sudan. This series aims to highlight short conversations with the women and men who make up our movement. The interview was conducted over email. 

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Can you give a concrete example of conflict resolution and peacebuilding in your region or country in which you were involved?

The northern parts of Kenya are torn by persistent inter-ethnic violence among pastoral communities who inhabit that region. In 2009 I went to Marsabit with a team of Justice and Peace Commission members from Tangaza University College. At this time over ten ethnic communities where in conflict with each other, apart from the Rendille and Samburu ethnic groups.

I resolved to contribute to peace in the region as a volunteer and decided to focus on Rendille-Borana violent conflict which takes place around Marsabit Mountain (one of the few arable areas in a region characterised by desert). First I carried out research on the conflict to understand it better. The research established that these two groups were in conflict for many years. The violence had left the communities deeply divided, with a lot hatred, enmity and a quest for revenge which was passed on from generation to generation leaving the violence in a vicious cycle. There were efforts by the government and civil society to resolve the conflict, however it would calm down for some time only to then escalate again.

In a such deeply divided society, I felt the only way to attain sustainable peace was using an approach which would generate relationships, build trust, tolerance, and understanding, and enhance genuine inter-communal dialogue.

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The communities were very suspicious and did not want to listen to anyone speaking about peace. In addition I was a young woman in a patriarchal society where women do not speak in front of elders or give them advice in any decision-making process. In this situation I chose religion as my entry point to these communities. This is because religious leaders are trusted by grassroots people so it makes it easier for them to accept anyone who comes through them. This enabled me to go and live among the people to first create a rapport and also deeply understand the violence situation.

Secondly I noticed that religion provided a big opportunity in bonding these divided people; however this potential had not been exploited in building a culture of peace in the area. The grassroots leaders had shared values inspired by their religion — like love, respect for life, and a recognition that all beings are children of God. Building sustainable peace is a slow and continuous process, but I observed that NGOs came and went after one year, two or three. Religious leaders are always with the people. In addition the ethnic groups who were fighting shared the same religious leader. For instance, the priest who celebrated mass for the Rendilles was the same who served the Boranas, so he was listened to and respected by both communities, hence making him a channel of peace in the area. Finally many peace initiatives are dependent on heavy donor funding which creates dependency at the grassroots and the peace process ends when the funding ends. When religious leaders are empowered with the right skills, they will continue strengthening the peace initiative even without money.

The potential which religion holds helped me to choose it as an instrument of bonding people. First I chose 14 elders who were key decision-makers and influential in their communities. They were composed of Muslims, Christians and traditional elders. I took them to Nairobi, more than 6oo km from Marsabit. The long journey on poor roads made them forget their differences. In Nairobi we held our meeting in a church which was burned some years back by Muslim youth when seeds of hatred in Kenya were taking root. After five days of interaction and learning a nonviolent way of communication, the elders went home as a team and visited various villages asking people to come together despite their religion or ethnic group and to work for their own peace.

Secondly I met with the religious leaders at the grassroots and asked them what role they can take to build peace in their area. The leaders started organising common worship where one month they prayed among the Boranas and next month they prayed among the Rendilles. Each year the leaders were organising a very big worship service where people prayed and shared meals together. For instance in 2018 during the political campaigns, several cattle were raided. Children were then killed by slaughtering them like animals in order to anger the other community to revenge. The grassroots people refused to take revenge. They organised for a very big worship service in July 2018 which brought Christians, Muslims and traditional elders together from various communities. They all asked for forgiveness and decided not to exact revenge. Despite the high tension brought by politicians, the communities refused to go to war. The grassroots leaders continued to mobilise the communities to pray together without any money. People who had not talked together found themselves in discussion on how to organise the worship and where to get food from. Children and youth from the warring communities organised a common choir and spent a night in the community where the worship was to be held. Additionally, the youth organised themselves across various religions and started organising sports matches which also facilitated the regeneration of relationship between the two communities.

These initiatives helped to bring so many people together.

DSC00794What were the challenges in terms of reaching conflict resolution and peace building and why was it successful?

Some of the challenges I faced on this journey were;

  • Strong political influence which was dividing the people we were trying to unite.
  • A lot of dependency on “sitting allowances” created by NGOs — people came to meetings when they knew they will get money and eat good food.
  • I lived with the people at grassroots so I heard negative stories of loss and lots of anger. Children always told me that when they grow up, they will go kill the enemy and bring back their livestock. So I got traumatised and did not have a team or institute which was helping peacemakers in this situation.
  • I was working without money even though the mission made so big of an impact. Some people got interested to support the initiative; however after some time, they raised money for their own use instead of the mission. Others wanted to make the initiative their own work. Struggling alone to retain the mission for the sake of marginalised people drained so much energy from me.
  • There was very poor infrastructure, no means of transport and I was cut off from friends and family for a long time. Being in such insecure and hardship areas, many of my friends believed that I was getting so much money and am not inviting them. This made me lose several friends.
  • The success of this mission was because of my insertion into these communities where people knew me, accepted and trusted me, and knew my intention was not to look for money but peace. In addition I saw each person as precious to me and had the right motivation of contributing to peace where many people who lived in a dehumanising situation would be able to live as human beings. This enabled me to overcome many challenges which I faced on the ten year’s journey.

What have you learned from this experience?

I have learned the following:

  • Peace in deeply divided societies is possible without lots of money if we have actors who have the right motivation and are committed to making lives better.
  • Religion has a lot of potential for building a culture of peace in the society because it is always with people; however this power has not been fully exploited.
  • The grassroots people who are the majority in society suffer most in times of war and they have the potential to work for their own peace; however many actors do not recognise this potential and end up doing the work for the people. Hence there is no sustainability of the peace process.
  • Finally there is a lot of money given for peace and very little impact is made.
  • Building relationships in a deeply divided society is key to attaining sustainable peace.

Why is the role of faith leaders important? What is the added value in conflict resolution and peace building?

  • The religious leaders are always with the people.
  • In a society where peacebuilding has been commercialised, these leaders are guided by religious values not money.
  • The structure of several religions enables the leaders to influence decisions at the top, middle and bottom levels.

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Nonviolence

This is what nonviolence looks like in Kenya on the International Day of Peace

by Teresia Wamuyu Wachira, IBVM
Pax Christi International Board member

During this year’s International Day of Peace (21st September 2018),  the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA) whose work is supported by St. Paul’s University where I serve as a Senior Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies, set three days of different activities in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, in order to bring together Christians and Muslims. Peace practitioners, peace scholars, government officials especially in the Security sector, University chaplains, lecturers, students from universities across Kenya, youth and women organisations, all engaged in these activities with the aim of creating a culture of peace — especially among Muslim and Christian communities. There was a different theme for each day.

The theme for Day One: Moving Kenya towards sustainable peace and development: Countering/preventing violent radicalization and violent extremism.

This day began with public lectures by scholars, Church leaders and government officials respecting gender balance. The auditorium (with a sitting capacity of 1800) was filled to capacity by mainly university students and other youth and women activists and peace builders. The presenters touched on the ‘approaches of countering radicalization and violent extremism from a Christian, Muslim, Gender, and Youth and Media perspectives’. There were plenary sessions where the audience was given the opportunity to seek clarifications or share their own personal experiences. One experience that remained with me was the sharing of one of the youth who said that he was on the verge of joining a militia group but the generosity of the people during one of his music concerts was a turning point. He made a decision to spend his life serving people by utilizing his talents for the good of humanity. There was also an opportunity for cutting of the peace cake and lighting of “Candles of Peace” which were given to a representative of all the groups present. The Christians also visited the mosque and the Muslims were allowed to break for their prayers at the appropriate times.

The theme for Day Two: Peace Walk – Christian and Muslims Together for Peace: Stop Violent Radicalisation!! Stop Violent Extremism!!

The walk was from August 7th Memorial Park (where the American bomb blast took place) to Eastleigh (where one of the most populated slums (Mathare) is situated. The peace walk started off with prayers (Christian and Muslims), the Kenya national anthem; and flagging off the walk.

All the participants donned a white t-shirt with the Christian and Muslim symbols and at the front engraved the words: “Peace Walk” and “Christians and Muslims together for peace”. At the back were the words, “Stop Radicalisation!! Stop violent extremism”.

The walk was animated by the Kenya Administrative Police Band and a youth-led peace caravan. The youth sang songs of peace, chanted peace slogans and informed the people about the theme of the day and its importance.
“We the Christians and Muslims are saying no to violence, no to radicalization, no to violent extremism and yes to peace.” There were three key stopovers mainly in the less privileged areas of Nairobi where radicalization and violent extremism is more pronounced.

On the last day, Day Three: There were special Church services and prayers for peace and victims of violent radicalization and violent extremism. Both the Christians and Muslims were involved in this too.

My Short reflection on the three days activities

Reflecting on the three days where I experienced us, Christians and Muslims sitting together in the same room, worshiping and eating together, visiting the churches and mosques without fear of one another, singing and dancing in rhythms of peace and not violence, playing football and walking together as we left our footprints of love, sisterhood and brotherhood as opposed to footprints of blood, speaking in one language of peace and love, the language of active nonviolence, I am convinced that another world is possible; a world where everything is turned upside down — our prejudices, our old held beliefs that continue to inform our decisions, especially regarding ‘us’ and the ‘other’. I am convinced of a world where children will play games without fear of a bomb, machete, spear, arrow, bullet, nuclear weapon; where people will not be afraid to embrace each other because they are different; where differences will be solved while sitting together, speaking to each other and sharing a meal as opposed to throwing different ‘missiles’ at each other and causing untold pain and suffering to each other.

Through these activities I was also reminded that what unites us is more profound than what separates us. Violence severs us from each other and indeed from our true self. We were all created equal and have one common home, the earth, that embraces us irrespective of our colour, religious affiliations, race, ethnicity, gender and education backgrounds. “I live in hope that one day swords will be beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks and that no nation shall learn or experience war or violence any more.” (Isaiah 2:4).

To read about the work of PROCMURA, website: http://www.procmura-prica.org/en/; the contact for their link with the St Paul’s University is http://www.spu.ac.ke/old/spu-academics/centre-for-christian-muslim-relations-in-eastleigh.html.

 

I am Pax Christi, Women and Peacemaking

The #IamPaxChristi interview: Martha Okumu of Peace Tree Network, Kenya

In this latest installment of the #IamPaxChristi interview, we’re profiling Martha Okumu of Peace Tree Network which is based in Nairobi, Kenya. This series aims to highlight short conversations with the women and men who make up our movement. The interview was conducted over email.

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How did you become involved with peace and justice work? What led you to do this kind of work?

I got involved in peace and justice when a college friend introduced me to a peace organisation which employed me. It was an eye opener in the sense that I had previously not interacted with civil society and community based organisations. I worked there for a period of two years and gained experience in peacebuilding and conflict transformation, advocacy, mediation and dialogue. The organisation was mainly involved in conducting workshops, hosting peace forums and offering certificate training courses in partnership with one of the Catholic Universities in Kenya.

With time I realised that I did enjoy the work and getting to learn about the genesis of conflict and the existing resolution mechanisms that existed needed to utilise in addressing the conflict issues. With this, I later found myself working for Peace Tree Network which works and partners with the community in developing conflict resolution mechanisms as well as enhancing the capacities of community members, especially the youth and women with skills in resolving/preventing conflict.

During your time at Peace Tree Network, what do you think is the greatest contribution that Peace Tree Network has made to the people you serve? Is there something that you recall in your work that you think really led to a positive change?

One of our greatest achievements was working with the youth in Mt. Elgon region in Kenya during the 2007/2008 violent conflict inflicted on the community by the SLDF which was a militia group. The violence was a result of the perceived marginalisation of a section of the community during the land allocation exercise by the government. As a result, a militia group made up of the youth from the community that felt marginalised started to terrorise people living in the areas of Kopsiro, Kipsigon, Cheptais, Kaptama and Kapsokwony. This led to people deserting their homes, rape, destruction of property, and physical and mental trauma.

At this point, Peace Tree Network identified and partnered with youth leaders, local organisations, and the church, as well as the local administration in identifying activities that would bring the parties in conflict together; we had a series of dialogues to help identify and resolve the issues of concern. We also had workshops and trainings in peacebuilding and conflict transformation with the aim of equipping the community with skills for finding alternatives to conflict as well as identifying latent issues that could lead to an eruption of conflict.

Martha Okumu in white shirt, 2nd from left.

Bringing in the local administration was important, as the local community were hostile to them, and this resolved the lack of sharing information that would lead to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. We also partnered with the security agents and organised ball games between them and the youth; this helped in mending relationships that had been broken.

This was a process that went on for a number of years, and, in concluding our project in 2016, we initiated a Peace Connectors Project whose aim was not only to build the skills of the youth in peacebuilding but also to economically empower them with life skills and identify income-generating activities, like communal farming, that brings together parties in conflict to work together. In the process, they learn about each other and discuss contentious issues amongst themselves. We also implemented table banking whereby the members would contribute towards an income-generating activity — in this case, the buying and selling of grains. The profit made would be ploughed back into the business while at the same time members would make their monthly contribution which would be lent out and repaid with a small interest on the principal borrowed. At the conclusion of this project, we had trained over 1000 trainers of trainers in peacebuilding and conflict transformation in Mt. Elgon who still are active in preaching peace.

We like to believe that our work has positively impacted people and led to meaningful changes in their lives. One instance that stands out for me would be an incident that happened last year in the Kinondo area in Kwale County after the announcement of the winner of the seat being vied for in the General Elections. The presiding officer announced the winner (this was later reversed and a new election was held on 18 April 2018) of the political seat despite having two candidates having the same number of votes. This led to a situation whereby the supporters clashed, leading to heightened tension in the area. In partnership with our partners on the ground as well as participants that had previously gone through our trainings, we managed to bring the parties in conflict together in a forum where they vented their displeasure on what had happened and agreed to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner while campaigning for their candidate and respecting the decision of the IEBC. This made the people aware that they could agree to disagree without escalating the situation to violence, and we also learnt the importance of providing a platform for people to address issues that negatively affect them.

What does nonviolence mean to you personally and professionally? How would you describe it? Is it important to your work?

Nonviolence to me is when one uses peaceful means when resolving conflict without forcing their will on others so as to bring about change.

Martha Okumu, center, at the Nonviolence in Africa conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, December 2016.

I would also say that through the use of dialogue, advocacy and skills enhancement, we try to bring about social change, justice and political change in our society.

Nonviolence is important to our work as our mission is to develop and maintain collaborative relationships among people and peace actors to develop sustainable peace, and this can only be achieved through dialogue, finding points of collaboration, and working through our differences peacefully so as to bring about change.

Is there someone who has been influential in your life in terms of the work you do for peace and justice? Someone you admire or who inspired you?

I would say I have been inspired by a number of people during one stage of my life or another. Initially, when starting out, I was inspired by my friend who introduced me into this line of work as the dedication and interest that I saw in him made me want to get involved.

After working with the community, I would say there are two people in Mt. Elgon (Sakong) and one in Kwale County (Barroh) who stand out as they are devoted to their community and are willing to sacrifice themselves in order for the voices of the community to be heard; to me, this is remarkable and selfless. This makes working in this field worthwhile as they are a source of inspiration.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Pax Christi International network?

For us, being part of the Pax Christi International network is an opportunity to share our experiences, work together and share our values to bring meaningful change in the world. It also signifies a platform for positive change through its advocacy platform which has a wide reach that helps in transforming the lives of people it touches.

Refugee Stories, Young Peace Journalists

Refugee Stories: “One day we will go back and offer good leadership to the people of South Sudan”

The following interview was done by Martin Githome and Margaret Njeri Mungai, members of the Young Peace Journalists. It is the latest entry in the Young Peace Journalists project featuring the stories and voices of refugees. 

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This is an interview with Daniel Majok (not real name) from South Sudan and currently a refugee in Kenya. He agreed to share his story with us.

Daniel is currently a student in one of the private universities here in Kenya. Nostalgically he says his life was okay before he became a refugee. He misses his former days spent with his playmates whose whereabouts he does not know. His worry is that he does not know whether they are alive or dead. Although he cannot quite remember the precise details of life since he left South Sudan at a young age, he relies on what the older people describe as ‘their old life’ in South Sudan. However, in his heart he feels that he was happy, carefree and comfortable in South Sudan before the protracted conflict started. To earn a living, his family, as most citizens from the South Sudan region practiced agriculture and pastoralism. When the conflict started, they were displaced and lived as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Eastern part of South Sudan where they later entered Kenya in December 1996. Although his parents are also here in Kenya, they did not come together as a family as they were initially separated. Sadly he recalls that he arrived in Kenya accompanied only by his cousins and sister. In Kenya refugees especially from South Sudan are accommodated in a camp known as Kakuma, which is located in Turkana County which is in the Northern part of Kenya. Daniel pursued his primary and secondary education while still based in the Kakuma camp.

When we asked Daniel what the major reason was for fleeing, his answer was a definite:

“We fled out of fear of being killed in the war that was ongoing.

The initial war was between the North and South Sudan after the then-President Gaafar Naimery declared the whole of Sudan an Islamic state and under sharia law even in the non-Islamic region; that is, the South Sudan region. John Garang formed Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) movement to oppose this decision, which resulted into a civil war. Currently the ongoing war in South Sudan is said to be between the government forces and the opposition after president Salva Kiir accused his vice president Riek Machar of organising a coup against his government. This civil war has brought with it human rights abuses and killings which has forced many South Sudanese to flee.

With sadness in his eyes, Daniel tells us how it feels to leave the familiarity of one’s home. Equally, that being a refugee is not an option but rather a condition that one finds themselves in. On a psychological level he says it is discouraging and heartbreaking having to be termed as a refugee. In addition, he does not enjoy the stability he was enjoying back in South Sudan as the joy of being in a family, living with his family was interfered with.  He also shared that as a refugee there are certain things that he cannot freely enjoy as when he was in his country. Being a refugee also separates people as some go to different countries and they no longer get to meet or even communicate. Daniel also points out that majority of the refugees are isolated by the citizens of Kenya. This isolation makes the refugees feel that they are seen as not part of them. His greatest challenge as a refugee is hostility that he experiences at the Kakuma camp where most of the refugees are settled. The local community there feels that they have invaded their space. At other times they lack basic needs for example, food, water and clothing. The aid that is supposed to be offered to the refugees does not get to them on time because of the poor infrastructure. Not to mention that the shacks are very congested. This means that some refugees are forced to bear the harsh weather conditions for example the shacks will be leaking when it rains and when it is hot – Turkana is very hot – they will be forced to endure the scorching sun. Refugees also get their movements curtailed plus they are required to carry documents from one point to another.

One can feel the sadness in Daniel’s voice as he describes the turmoil and hardship they endured at the camp. They were times when they were forced to walk long distances to look for water; and when they did it was not very safe for drinking and cooking.

His eyes light up as he tells us,

“I strongly believe that with the education my colleagues and I are receiving now, we will one day be able to go back and offer good leadership to the people and country of South Sudan.

Having lived in Kenya for almost 20 years he still holds onto the faith that he will one day be able to go back to his home country when the situation is stable. His message is that people should never take their freedom and peace for granted and see refugee life as desirable at whatever cost. Daniel has a message to his government of South Sudan and the rebels. He reminds them that,

“There can be no government without people; a nation without people. The government should respect the opinion and the rights of their people. The government should also make efforts to stop the violence and address the human rights abuses so that the country will not be deserted. The people from South Sudan are still fleeing and they are based in many different countries.”

He also advocates for peace and urges all people not to look at tribal differences but seek for what unites them, respecting the policies of their individual country. Equally, he cautions the citizens not to use violence as a way of resolving minor disagreements when they occur. Daniel hopes that the government of South Sudan will be committed to bringing peace and to realise that “war brings no benefits and it is their own people who are suffering”. Daniel also shared what he would like to see happening in South Sudan in the following words:

“Tribalism and abuse of human rights should be condemned and democracy encouraged. The youth should also be educated on the importance of being citizens of a country through peace education, respecting human rights and living together in unity and cohesion.”

His advice to people who are taking peace for granted is that they should not ‘play with fire’ as the peace and freedom they now enjoy can easily be taken away through violent conflict.

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Martin Githome and Margaret Njeri Mungai are members of the Young Peace Journalists. They are students in Peace and Conflict Studies at St Paul’s University in Kenya.

Lent, Nonviolence

Lent 2017: Reflection for Palm Sunday, April 9 – On Jesus’s way of active nonviolence

by Wamũyũ Wachira
Board Member, Pax Christi International

Matthew 21:1-11 | Isaiah 50:4-7 | Philippians 2:6-11 | Matthew 26:14-27:66

What does it mean to celebrate Palm Sunday devoid of all power trappings and in the midst of a migration crisis and violence in all its forms?

Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. We accompany Jesus as he enters Jerusalem until his death on a cross. Jesus’s entry to Jerusalem is unique as he uses a colt and the people receive him by covering the path with their cloaks and palm branches as they shout aloud, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” Is this not a contradiction of what is expected of a king? Why did Jesus choose to use a colt instead of riding in the latest model helicopter? Why did the people use their cloaks and branches instead of a red carpet that befits such a leader? Why does he choose Jerusalem instead of going back to Nazareth, his place of birth?  Jesus is inviting us to shed off the trappings of power and embrace all people.

During this holy week we accompany Jesus, a king who is stripped of all the glory, who chooses to keep quiet when accused, to forgive and embrace all his enemies, to act nonviolently when spat on, slapped, crowned with thorns, ridiculed and nailed on a cross. He does not summon his mighty soldiers to fight for him, or disperse the crowds with tear gas, or kill using drones. He challenges his disciples to put away the sword and not to retaliate. Jesus’s mission is that all may have and enjoy fullness of life (John 10:10).

As we celebrate Palm Sunday this year, 2017, we are invited and challenged to active nonviolence which is at the core of Jesus’s mission – to speak, act and feel nonviolently when confronted with violence.

Teresia Wamũyũ Wachira, IBVM is a member of the Pax Christi International Board. Currently, she is a Senior Lecturer in Peace Studies at St. Paul’s University in Nairobi, Kenya.

Lent, Nonviolence

Lent 2017: Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent, March 5 – From revenge to reconciliation

by Moses Sichei Sakong, with Martha Okumu
Peace Tree Network

Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7 | Romans 5:12-19 | Matthew 4:1-11

ashwednesdayclipMy name is Moses Sichei Sakong from the Mt. Elgon region in Bungoma County in Kenya. I was born on the 6th of June, 1987 into a Sabaot family and I have ten siblings of which I am the second born.

During my childhood, I had never experienced violent conflict, but by 2004, there were warning signs of the coming violence. The Ndorobo people, who were our neighbours, came and burnt down our houses and granaries. By the time I was in secondary school, life had become tough for me as we had lost all our possessions as a family. I started asking myself a lot of questions and developed a negative attitude towards the Ndorobo community.

From 2005 to 2007, the third phase of land redistribution by the government of Kenya in the Mt. Elgon region was underway. It was then that the land conflict escalated and violent clashes started to occur with militia groups being formed. The Sabaot Land Defence Force was formed with the aim of protecting the land interests of its community from the perceived injustice in the resettlement process. The group received support from politicians as membership was drawn from among the youth. It was at this time that I had a desire to join the militia group but my mother refused.

With the escalation of violent conflict between the Soy and Mosop — of which I am a Soy — there was a lot of killings, torture and destruction of property. I lost many relatives including brothers, cousins, uncles and close friends, and it was then that we became internally displaced.

Everyone in my family ran to safety. I and my elder brother went together but on the way we almost got killed as there were gunshots everywhere and we frequently faced death. It is only through God’s will that we made it. I experienced a tough life of slavery; eating was a problem, and this affected me psychologically, physically, emotionally, socially; my education was disrupted.

After the ethnic conflict of 2008, I became aware of the work of Peace Tree Network (PTN) and I started participating in their work in 2009 centered on peace-building. PTN has played a big role in my life by transforming my outlook through their seminars, trainings, and exchange programs, and I now live life in a positive way. For instance, during the conflict period, my heart was filled with revenge for losing my relatives and I did not want to socialise with the Ndorobo group, but through the teachings and skills learnt, it has brought about healing and reconciliation in my life and changed my negative thinking of revenge towards positive living with all people, especially the ones I viewed as my enemies.

I have also discovered my career path for counseling psychology which I am currently pursuing. I have become a peace ambassador and engaged in a reconciliation process in my community through the use of mediation and forgiveness and through that I have learnt the importance of maintaining peace. I educate the youth against engaging in violence and being misused by leaders for their personal gain.

With these skills that I have, I live positively, not a life of hopelessness and negativity, and I am very thankful to be here and to be a testimony of a positive peaceful existence.