Nov 30, 2020

HROC and AVP Report, November 2020

Group photo after HROC workshop.
Group photo after HROC workshop.

I was a vigallante under the government with the directive to kill any raider or bandit and honestly I killed ruthlessly in the name of bringing peace. Little did I know that we can achieve that coperation in a small circle like this. Participant in cross-border listening session.

HROC Report

The Covid-19 pandemic has wrecked unprecedented havoc on children, teenagers, families, schools and community in and around Transnzoia County specifically in Kitale town, disrupting vital services and put many lives at risk. Since March attempts to avert this global pandemic have seen closure of most schools, affecting so many children and livelihoods of teachers who were employed by the school management.

For the most vulnerable children, especially girls, accessing basic needs has been a challenge forcing them to engage in unwanted behaviours to meet their needs. The pandemic has caused additional, unanticipated disruption and the likelihood of the vulnerable girls being unable to meet their life goals

The vulnerability that is known to increase due to the closure of schools in time of crisis and risks is “teenage pregnancy”. School closure during crisis can result in girls spending more time with men and boys than they would were they in school, leading to greater likelihood of engagement in risky sexual behaviours and increased risk of sexual violence and exploitation.

In as much as currently we blame Covid-19 for the increased cases of the teenage pregnancy; it can further be linked to lack of sexual and reproductive health education, child marriages, substance abuse, increased poverty and insecurity which is predominant in Trans Nzoia. Complication from teenage pregnancy account for more cases of death of young girls in Trans Nzoia. The situation that has put the leadership of the community in a dilemma wondering what to do.

Since March more than 10 deaths have been recorded in the area as a result of young girls wanting to conduct back alley abortion which is either aided by their parents or a close relative. Due to not believing that children are taking a wrong direction, two parents succumbed because of the death of their young one.

The training brought about so many lessons which included:

  • Through trust walk participants acknowledged the importance of a shoulder to lean in times of distress
  • We see people suffer but we couldn’t identify that it was traumatic stress
  • Trauma is an accompaniment of covid if not shared it leads to quick death
  • People living in suburb’s are prone and at risk of traumatizing events
  • There is dire to be close to our children during this pandemic
  • Prompt more sharing from our teenagers

Recommendations

  • Have regular follow ups to people who are more traumatized
  • Partner with other organization to enhance referrals
  • Develop and train more healing companion in the region

Testimonies

it was on June the second day of the week, memories are still fresh in my mind. I was preparing lunch for my family and children were busy playing at the main house, while others were glued to their phones. Then my younger daughter came to me telling me that Joyce, my form 2 girl, was playing a bad game at her bedroom. I assumed and told her to go and tell to stop the game. She went and again after five minutes she came back again and told me the same story. This time I decided to go with her to Joyce's room. Friends, what I found was shocking. Joyce was hanging from the ceiling, at first I could not believe it was true but from a closer look i saw her tongue out, what transpired next I don’t know because I found myself at Kitale district hospital. I was there for two days in a comma. I buried my daughter because she refused to share her problems with me and I was also not available to her. I am in a lot of pain and when I see parents talk of teenage pregnancy I see the letter my daughter left behind informing me of her pregnancy and that she didn’t want to be a shame to the family. I am still mourning my beloved daughter and kindly I welcome you to my house to come and help me mourn and talk to my kids.

AVP Report

Venue:cheptonon in Suam, Mt Elgon

Suam isoin the boader of Uganda and kKnya. They border the hostile pastorlist comunities of Pokots from Kenya and Sebei from Uganda. The cross boarder conflicts between the warring communities have led to loss of many lives and displacements of  hundreds of people.The old, women ,and children seem to bear the brunt of this socioecomical and politically instigated forms of violence. Violation of fundamental rights of women and children are widespread in times of conflict. This include crimes like murder, rape, torture, mistreatment and neglect. Women are left in situation where they can hardly make ends meet. With little or no resource at their disposal eventually leads to unfaithfulness to look for the basics from the haves.The communities live in constant fear of attacks from bandits and raiders. The often wanton destruction of life and property and the use of terror and threats in all its manifestation tend to undermine peoples value, dignity, and hermony .

When security forces fail to net bandits and raiders in their operation, they often vent their anger on the civilian population,who they accuse of colluding and harbouring the bandits. As a punishment they always confiscate their cattle to put pressure on the locals to return the stolen cattle. And on the other hand the bandits may also heavily punish some mebers of the community who are suspected to be working with the government. The locals therefore finds themselves in jeopardy or unsure on how to balance between the two forces. It's such scenarios that often lead to victims running and escaping for safety. What has real aided this henious act of banditry and raids is the inflitration of small and light arms in the region from neighbouring countries.

The government has tried several measures to end this unending conflict at the boaders which include

  • Police post and military camps in the region
  • Political approach
  • Having homeguards and vigilante groups
  • Disarment programs

But with all this the conflict continued. Even the police posts were being raided. After several listenning sessions with the so called perpetrators, we realized that the gap in all this measures was lack of :

  • Addressing attitudes
  • Perceptions
  • Retrogresive culture
  • Behaviour change

This informed the AVP tranings contacted in the community to address the gaps.

Lessons learned from the training

  1. Timeliness and effective response is key and this can be achieved through identfying hotspots.
  2. Identify pattens and trends of the conflict for proper intervention planning.
  3. Use the locals who understand the history of the place to do further tranings in their dialect. This will ensure sustainability and ownership of the process.
  4. Coflicts in this region are dynamic, interlinked  and its this relationship that determines the nature of conflict  .
  5. Exclusion of a segment of the community from decision making is a recipe for prolonged conflict
  6. Cordination and patnership is paramount in achieving desired outcomes
  7. The locals want to be treated with love and repect

Reccomendations

a)      Have cross boader dialogues between the communitie living there.

b)      Let women also participate in this forum as they also play key role in instigating violence.

c)      Increase political wing in the campaign against ending violence in the region by invting them in the trainings.

d)      Have the trainings even in schools to transform the violent nature at a tender age.

e)      Have regular follw-ups for encourgement.

Challenges encountred

  • Changing the narrative of gun ownership is tricky since they find value in them.
  • Due to their living nature most of them haven't gone to school hence communication is hampered.
  • Fear and uncertainity is still high hinderig concetration during training.
  • The hilly terain of the region makes participants to come in the training a bit late and tired .
  • Due to the sensitivity in the group partcitipants didn’t want their pictures taken.

Testimonies

I am gratefull today because all along I knew this other tribes as people who came to snatch our land but I have realized through this training we can build a new society and stop fighting each other.

 

Teenagers in small group sharing challenges.
Teenagers in small group sharing challenges.
Young adults in the trainings.
Young adults in the trainings.
Nov 16, 2020

Report on Listening Sessions

Lead facilitator addresses teenagers on Mt Elgon.
Lead facilitator addresses teenagers on Mt Elgon.

Listening Sessions

Listening sessions are a tool that was develop after the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007. The tool is designed to facilitate listening sessions with empathy exercises to enlarge deeper understanding of an issue or problem of others and give them help in solving them. It gives effective listening skills and help participants to open up from their frozen pain and past. Iit invites them to take an active part in the growth process and gives the participants permission to admit a need for help and to seek it appropriate.  It is from this session that facilitator help the participant to get help through our programs with include Alternatives to Violence, Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities, Mediation, Counselling and many others.

In the sessions we discovered that violence against women amidst this Covid-19 pandemic has been a violation of women’s human rights. Many forms of violence against women have been perpetrated by close family members and the community at large. Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in early March, gender based violence has created many potential negative health consequences for women and their children.  Violence against women in Mt Elgon has resulted in injuries and serious physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems, including sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and unplanned pregnancies. In extreme cases, violence against women has resulted in death. Restricted movement and social isolation measures have led to an exponential increase in GBV. Many women are in "lockdown" at home with the abusers while being cut off from normal social support services.

On Mt Elgon there has been a rampant cases of GBV which has been reported and many which remain confined at the mercy elders hence denying victim’s access to justice. A case of women being stabbed to death over a missing meal has been witnessed. Young and innocent girls are being waylaid on their way back from manual job is on the increase. In Chepyuk location which borders Mt. Elgon forest women who are on the run because sour marriages have increased. All this has raised alarm and not much is being done. Trauma has engulfed the residents of the area due to this sharp increase in GBV cases.

We managed to do 5 listening sessions with women and young girls who have experienced violence especially during the difficult times of Covid-19. From these sessions, we were able to identify women who have experienced traumatic experiences and have obtained psychosocial help for them. We have provided safe spaces for women and children to share. We have held perpetrators accountable with the use of police and local administration. Also for some sensitive cases we helped provide a platform for referrals for medication and professional counseling.

During the training we had heavy rains and the roads were impassable. However the team was forced to walk for a long distance because motorbikes could not be used.

As we finalize the listening sessions the country was hit by the second wave of infections that forced us to embark on government health protocols thus reducing our public gatherings.

Listen session with women and girls.
Listen session with women and girls.
The most affected group on Mt. Elgon were women.
The most affected group on Mt. Elgon were women.
Involving government officials in tackling GBV.
Involving government officials in tackling GBV.
Road conditions going to listening session.
Road conditions going to listening session.
Sep 25, 2020

Kakuma Women's Sewing Program Update

The women of the Kakuma Sewing Program
The women of the Kakuma Sewing Program

In 2019, African Great Lakes Peace Trust funded TCSC  to train 24 refugee women from South Sudan, Congo, Somalia and Burundi who carried traumatic events with them that have destroyed the sustaining bonds between individual and communities. In the first phase, we managed to deal with the women’s trauma both when they became refugees and in the refugee camp itself. They have participated in a Healing and Rebuilding Our Community 3-day basic workshop. This workshop help develop social cohesion among the women of various nationalities. This was followed by a three-day Alternative to Violence workshop in order for the women to learn out do resolve conflicts nonviolently. The second phase involved training in micro entrepreneurship we did manage to train 24 women and the sewing project was born.

Picture 2: Pastor from Friends church Turkana Friends Mission delivers 10 sewing machines to Kakuma refugee camp on behalf of Transforming Community for Social Change (TCSC)

The third phase was delayed by the Covid 19 pandemic. Kakuma being a confined community the government imposed curfew and further movement restrictions which affected people living in the camp. It is traumatizing to not be able to venture into public spaces without protective gear like mask and sanitizers. Even though there are attempts from some fellow refugees to make and provide free mask from locally made garments, it has proven to be hard due to the lockdown because a lot of the materials needed were not available to local tailors who usually purchase them from cities in Kenya. People were understandably worried about their lives and the safety of their neighbors when out in public or when queuing for food and water.

The month of August 2020 we manage to buy 10 sewing machines and transported to Kakuma Refugee camp a pastor from Turkana Friends mission helped us to deliver the machines.

Picture 3: The first class has successfully started and by December all the 24 women would have gain the basic skills on tailoring.

This month we have launched three one-month training in tailoring with 10 participants, 5 from Kalobeyey settlement and 5 from Kakuma 2 per session. After a three month of training, each group of three women from each camp will be given a Singer Sewing Machine which will remain the property of Kakuma Friends Church. After training we plan for the women to become  organized into a workers’ cooperative society which can help with purchasing materials and other necessary items and obtain contracts such as sewing school uniforms.

Picture 4. The excitement of the first woman on the left using the machine without fixing the treadle belt shows how she is very interested to lean outside a tattered temporal canvass structure in the camp

The economic potential of the camp has not been fully utilized and the host community, which is one of the most marginalized in Kenya, feels that it has not benefited much from the presence of refugees. Sometimes conflicts escalate, leading to injuries and even deaths on both sides for many refugees. Lack of a steady income makes it difficult to buy firewood or charcoal to fill the gap, and so they often gather firewood themselves from the bushes around the camp. This puts them in conflict with the Turkana. By the end of December we hope to promote social cohesion among women of the various nationalities in the refugee camp, promote economic empowerment among the 24 women who are getting basic training in sewing and to develop women’s run Tailoring Cooperative.

 “I have got a new machine, am excited but am a bit nervous. My legs are shaking; my hands want to try. Thanks to our donors who have  helped this sewing  project. After the training I will focus on making and repairing clothes for refugee children and host community.” Participant.

 “We are projecting by December the 24 women will have been trained and ready to implement the project on their own. I am impressed by the excitement and the commitment of the women." Sewing Trainer.

Picture 2 -- Receiving the sewing machine.
Picture 2 -- Receiving the sewing machine.
Picture 3 -- Start of the first class
Picture 3 -- Start of the first class
Picture 4 -- The beginers are learning.
Picture 4 -- The beginers are learning.
 
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