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Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya

by Transforming Community for Social Change
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
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.
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.
Motorcycles at the dialogue session.
Motorcycles at the dialogue session.

The bodaboda (motorcycle taxis) industry has grown immensely since its inception in 2003. The industry has seen many youth engaged in the business. From the start of the business, the government did not have clear regulations to guide the industry. As a result the riders were associated with all sorts of unruly behavior and accidents. Thirty percent of all accidents recorded are associated with the industry leading to the introduction of a special ward in government hospitals for the motorbike related accidents. [Note from Dave Z: One evening when I was at Lumakanda hospital with one of the sick children, a passanger who was in a motorcycle accident in Kipkarren River was brought in with one leg severed at the knee. The driver was then brought in bleeding profusely.]

To tame this menace of bodaboda chaos, the government introduced stringent laws commonly known as “Michuki laws” named after the minister who developed the laws. The bodaboda drivers were required to have:

  • Protective gears (helmet)
  • Driving license
  • Insurance
  • Reflecting jackets
  • Carry only one passenger

These rules have now started being enforced again by the police. This caught the bodaboda drivers unprepared and, since they were many in number, they started engaging in battles with the police.

On Mt. Elgon the riders ganged up and roughed up the policemen in a very tough battle. One of the officers broke his leg and a number of causalities taken to Bungoma hospital.

Transforming community for social change intervened by conducting a dialogue between the operators and the police. A total of one hundred and thirty people attended the meeting at the peace centre.

Resolutions accepted at the meeting included

  • Give the operators adequate time to acquire the documents
  • Policemen to be friendly in handling the bodaboda drivers as a traffic offence is not criminal offence
  • Use the boda boda drivers to enhance security
  • Engage other boda boda drivers across Bungoma county on such forums
  • Bodaboda drivers to be organized into Saccos (cooperative societies) to avoid being mistaken for criminals

This is an example of TCSC’s peacemaking work in action.

Note: On December 24 at the Mt. Elgon Peace Center, Transforming Community for Social Change plans a Christmas Party for 600 or more children. We will report on this activity after Christmas.

The man with a cane was hurt during the skirmishes
The man with a cane was hurt during the skirmishes
Role play at workshop in Kakuma Refugee Camp.
Role play at workshop in Kakuma Refugee Camp.

Brief  Report on Accomplishments in 2017/2018 and Planned Activities for 2019

Donate

Giving Tuesday is tomorrow and Transforming Community for Social Change hopes that you can make a donation on that day. GlobalGiving will give a 12% to 15% bonus for donations made on Giving Tuesday that are made during that day Eastern Standard Time in the US. Recurring donations will be matched up to $200 after the fourth payment.

For Transforming Community for Social Change (TCSC), click on goto.gg/31755

      To support Peacemaking with Samburu Warriors, click on goto.gg/35909

      To support Christmas Celebration for 600 Kids, click on goto.gg/36828

      To donate to TCSC by M-pesa go to Pay Bill: 891300, Account: GG31755

Activities for 2017/2018:

This year Transforming Community for Social Change (TCSC) and its local partners have been working in Kenya to promote a culture of peace and restoration of justice through advocacy, economic empowerment, and community development. After the last elections in 2017, Kenya teetered on the brink of civil war; enraged citizens were manipulated by their political leaders to exact revenge for a stolen election.

TCSC was instrumental working with our over 1000 grassroots citizen reporters, our program facilitators, and resource persons to coordinate Civic Education and open Peace Forums for inter-ethnic groups in Western Kenya and Mt Elgon. This offered an integrated and focused election violence prevention project that built on the foundations we had laid in the communities that were considered flash points. With our track record and strong links to mobilized grassroot groups, those involved in peace initiatives and TSCS-trained Resource People were ideally located to promote a collective understanding of and investment in a free and fair election process that crossed ethnic, religious, and party lines.  

Before the 2017 election TCSC conducted refresher trainings with our local Resource People so that they could be community trainers in the electoral process, citizen reporting, and election observation. TCSC also developed watch-dog groups to monitor political developments, report on hate speech, and hold political aspirants and community leaders accountable. In order to build the foundation of community relationships and basic knowledge needed for these watch-dog groups, TCSC managed to hold inter-ethnic, inter-faith and inter-party community forums, civic education workshops, and voter sensitization sessions and as well as monitorthe election process itself.

Since December 2013 when tribal violence between the Dinka and Nuer in South Sudan broke out, tens of thousands of South Sudanese have swelled the numbers in the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Moreover they have brought the South Sudanese conflict into the camp and the Dinka and Nuer have had deadly clashes in the refugee camp itself. Transforming Community for Social Change with support from donations given through GlobalGiving conducted Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities workshops in Kakuma Refugee Camp. The purposes were

  • To help them address and deal with their trauma from violence and domestic abuse from the struggling nature of their lives in the camp,
  • To build confidentiality and resilience because people living in the camp are still afraid of their neighbours because of stereotypes.
  • To build resilience through the process of healing from trauma.

TCSC lead facilitators also introduce AVP and HROC in Kitale, Kenya, mentored apprentice HROC facilitators in Rumbek, South Sudan, and Gulu, Kampala and northwest Uganda, and trained HROC facilitators in Musanze, Rwanda.

Activities for 2019:

In our new year 2019 TCSC intends

  • To train communities in peace programmes such as Alternative to Violence, Mediation, Trauma Healing, and Active Non-Violence on Mt Elgon, the Kakuma Refugee Camp and elsewhere as needed.
  • To help women and youth in Kakuma Refugee camp start economic empowerment projects to promote self reliance.
  • To have advocacy programmes towards justice and civic education in Western Kenya.
  • To sensitize the communities on gender equality to promote equity in development.
  • To rise and mobilize funds to support the Mt Elgon Peace Centre including the building of a residential building at the Centre.
  • To continue to help train people in both Kenya and other countries in AVP, HROC, mediation, active non-violence, and other peacemaking programs.
  • To hold on December 24 a Christmas Celebration for 600 Kids on Mt Elgon.
  • To re-engage with the traditional warriors in Samburu to promote peaceful coexistence.

We have a goal of raising $5,000 on Giving Tuesday to continue our peacemaking activities during 2019. We have attached a flier for you to foward to those whom you think might be interested in the work of Transforming Community for Social Change's peacemaking work.

We appreciate you help.

Getry Agizah, Peter Serete, Ezra, Kigondu, and David Zarembka


Attachments:

HEALING IS LIVING

Both victims and perpetrators of violence experience trauma. Kitale Community Advancement Programme (KAP) has been doing work with victims of AIDS and violence. They have trained counselors who have been helping victims of this deadly pandemic and the violence in parts of Mt. Elgon and the slums of Kitale municipality. .KAP consulted TCSC to further their  knowledge on matters of trauma and trauma healing . They did a basic training in which some of KAP’s staff and its volunteers participated.

The second training which was a six day training of Healing Companion which was done from the 8th October 2018. The objectives of the training were

  • To help the staff and volunteers to become healing companions to help others within their community who have experienced violence
  • To teach people to help others to express their emotions
  • To teach and practice deep listening skills
  • To offer support to people on their journey of healing
  • To identify the process of recovery from trauma

The training started with a follow up of the basic training. The first activity was using a healing scale which indicated that most of them had made a tremendous step since the basic training. A healing companion can’t heal others when he or she is still wounded.

Lessons learnt

  • There are a lot of similarities between counseling and healing companions such as focus on deep
  • Healing companions have their own issues too hence the need to work on them
  • A lot of vices happen in the slum areas which go unnoticed
  • Land has been a major cause of violence in eastern Mt. Elgon 
  • There is passion among the participants to be healing companions
  • Trauma is dynamic depending upon the environment, hence there are different ways of recovery
  • There is a lot of resilience in the community

Recommendations

  • Participants need a three day training of trainers to improve facilitation
  • Apprenticeship for the facilitataors  to be able to handle a HROC workshop
  • Follow up days are needed to trace recovery
  • Quarterly meetings of healing companions to share progress, challenges and experiences
  • Need to be trained on other peace building programs to be able to handle emerging conflicts
 

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Project Leader:
David Zarembka
Kakamega, Kenya
$16,008 raised of $20,000 goal
 
284 donations
$3,992 to go
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