Thursday, January 15, 2009

Friends hold second peace conference in Kenya - Jan 13-15, 2009

Peacebuildiing in Kenya - Friends Church Conference, Jan 13-15, 2009

From David Zarembka
African Great Lakes Initiative
Lumakanda, Kenya

At the Friends Church (Quaker) Peace Conference
January 13-15, 2009
Mabanga Farmer Training Centre
Bungoma, Kenya

... Here we are in Kenya where a potential civil war broke out a year ago today, December 30, 2007, when post-election violence erupted after the disputed election results were announced.

There are more Quakers in Kenya than anywhere else in the world and some of the conflict was right in the heart of the area where the Quakers are most numerous--my hometown of Lumakanda included. Quakers, like everyone else here, were stunned by the violence; totally unprepared to respond. Yet within a week the Friends Church of Kenya issued a very strong anti-violence epistle.

By the end of January 2008, while the post-election conflict was still at its height, the Quaker organizations – Friends Church in Kenya, Friends World Committee for Consultation-Africa Section, Friends United Meeting-Africa, and the AGLI sponsored Alternatives to Violence program (AVP) – held a conference in Kakamega to determine what would be the Quaker response to the conflict.

The Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT) was created. During the past year, they overcame many challenges in funding, transport, and other resources.

With mostly volunteer efforts, they conducted a wide range of activities for peacebuilding, reconciliation & trauma healing in 2008:
  • gave relief supplies to those internally displaced people (IDP) who had been missed by the Red Cross and the Kenyan Government.
  • reconciliation and peacemaking work, focusing on Lumakanda, not far from Eldoret, one of the epicentres of violence.
  • visited the local internally displaced people's camp at Turbo, also not far from Eldoret.
  • held listening sessions in nine local communities that had displaced the people.
  • accompanied the IDPs back to these communities when the Kenyan Government closed the IDP camps.
  • visited the receiving villages to see how the reintegration is progressing.
From January 13 to 15, 2009 FCPT is holding another Quaker peace conference, with two representatives from each of the 16 yearly meetings in Kenya and others who have played a part in the reconciliation work. The purpose is to review what we have done in the last year and discern where we should put our efforts in the future...

More coming soon.

> Click here to read the full report