#GivingTuesday – Peace building in Kenya

Nov 29, 2016

Continuing our On the Ground series, we speak with Pelagie Tuyisenge. She is the Reporting Officer with our partners PHARP in Kenya. Here, she tells us about the remarkable transformation that Janet, a beneficiary, has undergone:

“Reading has given me more satisfaction than anything else” – Janet Atieno

Peace building, Healing and Reconciliation Programme (PHARP) was established in 1994 in Nairobi, Kenya. Partnering with individuals and community members we seek to build the capacity of the local community to analyse and map the underlying context and attitude that gives rise to violence and conflict as well find possible solutions.

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Janet is both a beneficiary and Field Officer residing in Kibera slum. She participates in the peace building and literacy project we run with Feed the Minds. I recently spoke to her and she shared her story of transformation through the peace building and literacy project.

“I am a Luo, born in Kisumu in 1976. I married a Taita man as his second wife while I was in primary school. In 1998 I moved to Nairobi for treatment for illness. I stayed with my sister Ruth in a small room. Her husband who was a security guard  sought refuge in drinking but, before too long, he lost his job. My husband who was working in Kisumu was transferred to Nairobi and his first wife joined him with the children. In my despair I started selling roasted maize at construction sites where some buyers could not pay and this frustrated me.  

In 2000 I met with Susan from PHARP. After hearing my story, she encouraged me to visit the PHARP office where I joined a sewing class. As well as sewing, we were empowered with conflict transformation, trauma healing, forgiveness and reconciliation skills. Through this, I developed a new mindset for viewing life. With my colleagues, we decided to work together  to sell our craft products, which were popular among the community. PHARP gave us eight sewing machines and opened a store for us in Mama Ngina market. Two years later, four machines were stolen during post election violence of 2007/2008. Residents from the Kikuyu community were chased from Kibera by Luo residents and camped at Jamhuri area. With the PHARP team, I applied my trauma healing skills to help the people who have been internally displaced. Although I was helping, I was afraid to talk with educated people because I was not confident with English. However, Susan encouraged me to talk even in my broken English. This gave a boost to my self-esteem and I was trained as a PHARP Field Officer. In the process of working with women, encouraging them and teaching them what I have learnt, I was convinced to enroll in adult classes to gain a primary-level certificate.

The peace building training has given me a voice in my community. In addition, business, marketing and capital management skills have opened up opportunities for our products.

Through the chief, the local administration invites me to community forums to speak on peace matters to the youth and women. I am much involved in helping families facing domestic violence for reconciliation. I am an active peace ambassador within the Kibera slum and outside.

With PHARP staff and Field Officers, we developed the booklet, “The Role of Basic Education in Peace building”, which is now being used by people throughout the community.

Through my hard work, my son has enrolled at Kenyatta University in September 2016 and my daughter has finished secondary school.”

Janet is just one great example of how the project has brought peace and prosperity to the people we work with. Thank you Feed the Minds for benefiting many through PHARP.

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If you would like to participate in #GivingTuesday by donating to Feed the Minds you can kindly do so here.