Quakers in the World

Quakers in the World

AVP in Kenya


AVP activity started in Kenya in 2003 and has been growing steadily. Major conflicts arose after the disputed elections at the end of 2007 and led to over 1,000 deaths, many injuries and the displacement of thousands from their homes and livelihoods. AVP facilitators have been active in both urban and rural areas where conflicts occurred. Institutions that have facilitated this process include the Alternatives to Violence (Kenya) Trust, Friends for Peace and Community Development, the Uzima Foundation, the Kenya Friends Church Peace Team, Change Agents for Peace International and the African Great Lakes Initiative.

AVP teams have worked in slums, in prisons, in schools, with religious communities and with refugees. Kibera and Mathare are the largest slums in Nairobi and were, among others, badly affected by the post-election violence in 2008. AVP teams carried out many workshops in these areas, trying to bring together people from different ethnic communities. AVP teams held workshops in the Shimo la Tewa prison at Mombasa and the Kamiti prison in Nairobi. Violence in schools and colleges has been a major concern and some workshops have been held for students in Thika and at the Friends School in Dandora, Nairobi. Workshops have also been held at the Mennonite Fellowship Centre in Eastleigh, Nairobi, with Muslim participants-mainly Somalis. Many workshops have been held in Western Kenya and the Rift Valley among communities that have experienced serious conflicts. Quakers have taken a leading role in this work and there has been a fruitful collaboration between Quaker pastors trained in AVP at the Friends Theological College, Kaimosi and Friends from the Unprogrammed tradition.

In 2009 and 2010 workshops were held at Dadaab in Eastern Kenya where there are said to be about 330,000 Somalis Refugees. The goal of this initiative was to develop a cadre of Somali facilitators who can extend AVP more widely among their own people in Kenya and in due course across the border in Somalia. This work, supported by the American Friends Service Committee, includes the translation of the AVP Basic Manual into the Somali language.

AVP leaders are faced with many challenges. One challenge is to find ways to assist those communities that were torn apart by the post-election violence in 2008. The Friends Church Peace Team in Kenya has worked very productively on this, and AVP training has played a key part in the places where they have been set up. In addition to this,  AVP training has been carried out in many other places, working with participants from the different ethnic groups who have been affected. However, this is not easy when some are still living in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Promoting forgiveness and reconciliation is difficult where impunity is accepted by the politicians and there is no justice for the victims of violence. Nevertheless much has been achieved.

The expansion of AVP in Rwanda led to the development of a special program referred to as HROC (pronounced HeROC) which stands for Healing and Rebuilding of Our Communities. Where there has been serious inter-communal violence, as during the Rwandan genocide, many people, both victims and perpetrators are severely traumatized and cannot begin to rebuild their lives or communities without assistance.  HROC workshops have been designed particularly for traumatized individuals so that they begin to build a future for themselves and others. HROC workshops have been held in several part of Kenya that were affected by conflict, including some of the slums of Nairobi.

Another challenge is the violence in schools that so often leads to destruction of buildings and property and sometimes to the death of students. AVP can be very useful in training staff and students how to deal with conflicts in a constructive manner and how to find win-win solutions.

Kenya hosted the International AVP Gathering in 2008.

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