May 20, 2019

March/April TCSC Report

A section of women covering their faces.
A section of women covering their faces.

Shades of Pain and Shame.

HROC Workshops

Due to the sensitivity of this report and the confidentiality, we are not going to use real names and other pictures of our participants in the just concluded 3 basic Healing and Rebuilding Our Community trainings because most of the participants are rape victims and some of their children have been defiled.

Transforming Community for Social Change (TCSC) with support has been on forefront in Intervening in the midst of erupted violence and unrest in parts of Mt Elgon. We managed to identify and mobilize all rape survives who were taken through counseling and medication for the defiled children. From the meetings, we managed to do 3 basic workshops, with a total of 60 women between the ages of 21 to 37years. During the training, the rape survivors and mothers of the defiled girls only 11 women accepted us to take their picture on condition they cover their faces for the fear of perpetrators, husbands and family members. The wounds of this experience were so deep. These kind of traumatic events shatter the world as we know it, leaving these women disordered, disempowered, and feeling disconnected from other people and from life. Most of the women expressed anger, anxiety, depression, fear and asking questions like why us? Where was God and what’s the meaning of life anyway?  

“My daughter of 12years and other girls of her age have been going to the forest to fetch firewood, especially on the weekends. They have always gone in a small group of five to six girls of her age. She came back home that evening without firewood and she was crying when I asked she said “blacky” slept on top of her and forcefully penetrated her. I didn’t know where to report and again I feared to expose my daughter, I took her to Kopsiro dispensary and never shared with anyone because in 2007 I was also raped when I had gone to look for building material for our house in the same forest. I have never shared what I went through because my husband could have killed me or even divorced me. How I wish I had shared because today my daughter would not have been a victim. I thanks this organization for this training, Yes, I am ashamed to share my story but today I feel helped.”

“I am a window. My husband died in jail. It was not easy to raise the five kids he left me with, I had this man who was very supportive to me. I never knew he was defiling my 13year old daughter for two years. He used to threaten her that he will kill her if she reported and sometimes he could give her 10 shillings to keep quite.  One day I came back from a funeral and found him with my daughter. The man attacked me and pushed me on the floor and left the house. I have never seen him since then. What saddened me was that as a mother I never discovered for two years this man had turned my daughter into a wife and innocently my daughter was helpless. I am so sorry my child was trapped in an abusive environment with this animal.  From this training in must help her find a way to preserve a sense of trust in people who are untrustworthy and safety in a situation that is unsafe.”

“The pain and shame that I carry as a woman wounds me deeply. This training has been of help to me. I joined other women to come to terms with what we went through, unmasking my face of shame and creating a new life. Don’t leave us.”

As the organization we will need to do more sensitization meetings with all community stakeholders. We need to push for witness protection and proper channels of reporting to government security personnel and human right actors because most women fear reporting their cases, creation on safe rescue centers for the victims and continues psychosocial support to the victims. Our Mt Elgon Center has played a role but it doesn’t have enough space to give support to the victims.

Alternative to Violence workshop

The main objective of the training was to help the youth at risk of violence with knowledge and skills on how to constructively handle violent conflicts and effectively communicate. The aim was to contribute towards the reduction of youth propagated violent conflicts in Mt. Elgon. We had 25 participants, 23 male and 2 women, and 3 local administrators.

The training workshop was delivered by trained facilitators based on participants’ experiences not based on lectures. The experiential learning approach was adopted as it is suitable for participants, majority whom have been victims and perpetrators of violence in the community. The workshop approach draws on the shared experience of participants, using reflections, interactive exercises, group and plenary discussions, learning’s games and role-plays to examine the ways we respond to situations where injustice, prejudice, frustration and anger can lead to aggressive behaviour and violence. The training and the related exercises prescribe conflict transformation skills that can enable individuals to build successful interpersonal interactions, gain insights into themselves, and find new and positive approaches to their lives. The workshop is anchored around principle pillars of: Affirmation, Effective Communication, Co-operation, Community Building and Trust and Confidence Building.

The high levels of commitment, cooperation and responsive of the participants throughout the training was remarkable. This level of participation was contrary to expectations of destruction, lateness, and lack of interest and focus due to the fact that majority of the participants are still on the journey from transformation from a violent environment. Above all, participants drawn from different rival villages and groups were able to constructively interact, thereby improving their levels of trust and confidence in each other.

AVP training empowered individuals who feel hopeless, unappreciated in the community to liberate themselves and others from the burden of violence. The fundamental belief is that there is power for peace and a good in everyone. This innate power has the ability to transform violence, Building community resilience and rehabilitate affected communities through practical approaches that seek to provide sustainable pathways to counter violent narrative that could lead to violent extremism.

At the end of the cooperation exercises participants realized that there is need to reach out in cooperation and communication. Participants saw the need of networking and having exchange programs between the motorbike riders.

The participants applauded the training due to the interactive nature that enabled them to improve their perceptions about life realities, especially about themselves, the community and leadership. The following were some of the remarks from the participants:

“I am happy the training has changed my way of thinking in conflict situations.”

“Have learnt a different way to solve issues at my home and neighborhood.”

“I appreciate the need to know about oneself through the affirmation exercise. I now understand myself differently from before.”

“The training was conducted while we were sitting in a circle and not the usual high table; this made me feel equal to all, even the facilitators.”

“I have been a leader of a violent group, but I have learnt that violence bets violence. I will apply the non-violent skills that I have learnt.”

“I have learnt how important it is to care and trust others because we need each other.”

AVP participants in training on Mt. Elgon.
AVP participants in training on Mt. Elgon.
Apr 1, 2019

Changing the Narrative in Samburu

Closing Handshake of Unity
Closing Handshake of Unity

As Quakers and other peace builders believe “there is that of God in everyone" this was our guiding principle in the dialogues that were held in Samburu in trying to change the narrative that the Samburus and their neighbors are violent.

The objectives of the dialogues were

• Inclusivity of everyone in decision making

• Gender mainstreaming in leadership and governance

• To assess the key and emerging conflict dynamics in their areas

• To map up peace and security actors (CSOs ,peace committees and any other player )

• To indentify ,examine and observe early warnings and early responses mechanisms in the area

The dialogues were done in three areas targeting

• Morans

• The elders commonly known as “oloibon”

• Women

• Youths

A total of 158 people attended with 50 male Oloibon (elders) , 72 women, and 36 male.

The key findings of the dialogues

a) Status of peace in the area

• There is presence of conflict which has been propagated by the continued drought

• Political conflict with politician grouping their kinsmen for political security and immunity

• Killings are their specifically at the rare water points where they scramble for the little and scarce water

• With the severe drought and hunger in the region some have engaged in banditry for survival

• Revenge is common place no matter how long it takes

b) Peace committees

There is presence of peace committees, but they are dormant Challenges facing them

• Lack of funds and transport facilitation

• Lack of proper skills on conflict resolution and management

• Animosity between waring tribes. hence taking of sides by committee members

• Land terrain i.e. hilly making it impossible to reach all areas

• Lack of response from government when an incidence has been report

c) Early warnings

• Footprints of the spies who are ready for cattle raid

• Change of grazing pastures as a sign on who will attack them, ie. “incitement “

• Information from friends and relatives of the other side

• Small gatherings of one community

• Little conflicts at drinking place

Challenges encountered

• Dealing with pastorial list when there is drought because is not easy as they move from place to place; hence you need to follow them which is expensive

• Cultures bars women to challenge male in a conversation

• Language barrier hence an extra cost of a translator for resolutions during the meetings

• Harsh community penalty for those who incite violence

Resolutions during the meetings

• Agreed to share pasture and water points as a way of unity

• Encourage the young ones to inter marry and avoid forceful marriages

• Peace messaging to be done always using all platforms

• Common trade like buying and selling of cattle’s to be established to improve interaction

• Involve community leaders in conflict resolution eg chiefs ,nyumba kumi, etc

• Conduct peace caravans targeting specific people

• Have a call in centre to report early warnings

• Cooperate ,network and work closely with all peace actors

• Always listen to the grievances of the youths

• Funding of peace committees should be availed

• Trainings should be conducted and target the right people from the worrying communities eg morans

• Frequent meetings to assess the situation 

Next step: A Samburu moran and a Turkana moran who are fluent in English will attend the next Healing and Rebuilding Our Community training in Musanze, Rwanda, in July to begin the process of trauma healing and reconciliation between the two waring communities. TCSC will be doing a fundraiser in May for their attendance at the training.

Community hotel
Community hotel
Battle ground between the  Turkanas and Samburus.
Battle ground between the Turkanas and Samburus.
Mar 5, 2019

HROC February International Training

2 international participants with local community
2 international participants with local community

HROC 14TH INTERNATIONAL TRAINING HELD IN RWANDA,

MUSANZE FROM 3RD - TO 24TH OF FEBRUARY 2019

Transforming Community for Social Change raised sufficient funds to send Janet and Bernard to this HROC International Training in Musanze, Rwanda.

In August 9th 2011, the first HROC IT was born and held in Burundi. The training brought 20 participants from different countries around the world. In the last eight years HROC IT has conducted 14 international trainings that have attracted many individuals, groups, local NGOs and international partners who have contributed to the growth of training facilitators in the Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities program. This was developed in Rwanda and Burundi for psycho-social healing of individuals and society after deadly conflict. The impact and success stories from USA, Latin America, United Kingdom, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan, Somali, Nigeria and Central Republic Africa has transformed this program and enabled it to run two international trainings every year.

This year’s first training was held in Rwanda, Musanze District, Chimonyi Sector at our HROC Peace Center. We had 9 participants, three men and six women, 2 from Kenya, 1 from England and 6 from Rwanda.  The training was scheduled for three weeks and carefully designed;

  • To prepare new facilitators to facilitated a basic HROC workshop,
  • To deepen participants understanding of trauma, trauma recovery, listening, and the role of trauma in reconciliation.
  • To develop and practice basic facilitation skills.

The international participants were given opportunity to attend a three days basic HROC workshop with other local community members, mostly survivors and perpetrators of genocide. After intensive training at the HROC Center, new HROC facilitators were given the opportunity to apprentice in three different communities.The first training was held at Evangelical Friends church in Musanze.  Most of the participants were windows above 50 years old whose husbands died during the genocide. The second workshop was held at Kiningi sector and the participants were mainly women who have experience gender based violence -- most of them were married and between 25-45 years old. The third workshop was held at the HROC center and all the participants were single unmarried mothers with children between the age of 16 -35 years

The cry in one of our apprentice training of single mothers of   “why me?” reflects the longing to find reason and meaning in difficult life events. Yet continually asking these often unanswerable questions kept most of girls in the training stuck. Together with suppressed fear, these questions provoke the great anger at everything and everyone associated with the perpetrator. To restore the ability to think rationally, the question needs to be reframed to why them? Why did they do it and why did they do it to me? This opens the way to search for root causes and to acknowledge that the other, the enemy, also has a story.  We learnt that today’s aggressors are often yesterday’s victims.

“My father was a genocide perpetrator, I am told he killed many people before I was born; today he is serving a 20 year prison sentence. I later learnt that he also killed all the family members of a Tutsi family except a son who survived. This son deliberately got to know me and forced me to live with him for nine months. I did not know who he was. When i got pregnant, he refused to take any responsibility for the baby, saying ‘go and eat your baby the way your father ate all my family members’. This left me in despair and shock. The man left me. I was so traumatized and was asking myself why should I pay for my father’s mistake? I was very sick and spent the last three in the hospital. My mother also rejected me but provided me with a house where i stayed alone with my baby. In this training I have learnt that my traumatic experienced had destroyed me. I have learnt that everyone can find a friend as now I know there are friends who can help, I feel safe in this group of girls.” 

Use of English and Kinyarwanda.
Use of English and Kinyarwanda.
Basic apprentice workshop with single mothers.
Basic apprentice workshop with single mothers.
I4th International HROC Training participants.
I4th International HROC Training participants.
Visit to the memorial site in Gisenyi.
Visit to the memorial site in Gisenyi.
 
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