African Great Lakes  

Alternative to Violence Project Workshop with Refugees in Kenya

By Peter Serete, Program Manager, The Transforming Community For Social Change, KENYA-REPORT FOR July 2019

 

Trust walk exercises — even though we didn’t have scarves for blindfolding, participants used their hands to cover. In trauma we both need help and a helper in our journey of healing.

The training had 24 women from South Sudanese, Congolese, Somalis and Burundians who carried traumatic events with them that have destroyed the sustaining bonds between individual and community. Furthermore, the current form of aid is not tailored to the needs, situation and prospects of refugees and host communities. 

In the fulfillment and preparation of the Kalobeyei women empowerment entrepreneurship project, both Healing and Rebuilding Our Community and Alternative to Violence trainings were held at Kalobeyei Friend Church in preparation of the second phase which will focus on training on the sewing project.

Participants pose for a picture behind unfinished Kalobeyei Friends’ Church

Many refugee people grow up surrounded by violence, and learn to see violence and abuse of power as normal and effective responses to conflict. Violence appears to be the only viable option for responding to conflict. The main objective of this training with the 24 women was:

To raise awareness of the people have in a conflict. AVP teaches that conflict does not need to be avoided and that it does not need to be met with violence. In the ideal world, conflicts can be resolved with “win/win” solutions, ones in which everyone leaves with their needs met.
Nonviolence is not just a state of mind or an attitude towards conflict. It is a commitment to actively seek to change the force or situation that degrade and oppress people. It is a commitment to address violence at its roots.

AVP teaches that the best way to overcome injustice is to come together as a refugee community and turn to each other as resources for change. This grassroots approach to ending injustice emphasizes that change is possible if our refugee communities come together and that each person has an important role to play in the process. They require skills that must be learned and practiced, skills that are intimately related to each other and that build on one another.

Testimonies

“We are entrapped by violence. No one among us that does not share the capacity for violence, and all of us has been hurt or we have hurt others by means of violence. This training is going to help us as women in finding alternatives ways of dealing with violence.”

“As we plan to start our sewing project. I know we will have disagreement among us. Use of I message as a non violent communication will help us.”

Building a new society exercise to show the attitudes and choices by one society can affect well being of another community and how it applies to individual, families, groups and communities.

Way Forward 

This project promotes conflict resolution and reconciliation. With all these skills, participants have develop resilience in relieving suffering, poverty and distress and building and maintaining social cohesion and trust, within and between host and refugees communities.

Sharing in small groups on empathy exercise to enlarge understanding of the problems of others and to give help in solving them. To experience the wisdom of the group aiding with each person’s problem