Peacebuilding Awareness

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The need to start FOHLC came after losing my sister to HIV and the fact that, at one point, my family became the victim of tribal violence.

After high school in the late 90s, politically instigated tribal violence my family was evicted from the south coast of Kenya—my birthplace and the only home I knew. We were displaced and forced to return to the upcountry from where my parents had migrated. Our property was looted and set ablaze; my dad was left behind to sell some family cattle, and just after he sold the cows and got paid, he was attacked, mugged and beaten severely. He had to stay in the hospital for three months, the first one plunged into a coma and with little or no hope for us to know the possible recovery from this state. Thanks to God, he gradually got better but in this state of immiseration, my sister's state just got worse with HIV. Deeply affected, I couldn' simply stand and do nothing, so instead of mourning and giving up to depression, I decided to convert this energy into something of good use for other people and to raise awareness on HIV/Aids, offer spiritual and humanitarian support to the infected/affected and to help to build bridges that connect people and help them interchange advancement through a peacebuilding and intercultural tolerance program.

Because part of the process of peacebuilding and intercultural tolerance is to get rid of the preconception of tribal uniqueness and differences, our organization raises awareness on the need to vet candidates "beyond one’s tribe" during elections. Today, we run a program that promotes community dialogues through participatory workshops, drama and sporting activities. We strive to inform the masses that what connects us is more prominent than what divides us.

Two of the significant issues in my country that trigger violence are political differences and tribalism. Adding to politics, tribalism sprouts out it horns during electioneering period deeply influencing Kenya’s voting pattern. Unfortunately few people understand that if one goes blind and deaf to objective problems and values, one cannot possibly help the country advance as it should. During general elections, Kenyans would be manipulated to ignore real issues like the candidate’s ideologies, his/her educational background, any underlying corruption history, his/her cultural and ethnic integrity, and so on and so forth. Of course, the one-of-us notion is deeply influenced by the tribal belonging to each tribe strives to remain in power. Logically, shortly after the elections, the electorate starts lamenting the choice because the picked up subject fails to deliver.

Elections' violence is a demon that has haunted Kenya for a long time, it occurred in the 80s, in the 90, and even recently (2017) at a small magnitude. In 2007, just to give an example, because of "manipulated" elections Kenya sunk in devastating violence. The post-election violence claimed over 1000 lives and over 300,000 displaced. There were many reported cases of rape and families ripped apart. The disabled suffered most during the violence, the deaf were caught unaware, the crippled could not run, and the blind had no guide. Many died at the hands of Avengers.

 

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