African Great Lakes  

HROC Training with Refugees in Kenya

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

 

The Healing and Rebuilding Our Community (HROC) 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. The economic potential of the camp has not been fully utilized and the host community, which is one of the most marginalized in Kenya, feels that it has not benefited much from the presence of refugees Sometimes conflicts escalate, leading to injuries and even deaths on both sides for many refugees, lack of a steady income makes it difficult to buy firewood or charcoal to fill the gap, and so they often gather firewood themselves from the bushes around the camp. This puts them in conflict with the Turkana, who consider themselves the “owners of the soil.”

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.

Healing and Rebuilding our Communities

This basic workshop was a cornerstone in a larger program designed to build community capacity to respond to wide-spread trauma and to strengthen inter- connections and reduce isolation. They are trained to listen compassionately and accompany family members and neighbors on their journeys of healing.

This is an effort to improve relations between the groups and acknowledging that many of the refugees would likely remain in Kenya for the foreseeable future. Those who have survived learn that their sense of self, of worth, of humanity, depends upon a feeling of connection to others. The solidarity of these 24 women provides the strongest protection against terror and despair, and the strongest solution to traumatic experience.

Testimonies

“My trauma isolated me from my family and friends, with hatred of other nationality but this group has re-created a sense of belonging.”

“For seven years I have been shamed and stigmatized for being a refugee. This is the first time I am sitting with a Somali woman. I am glad we share the same pain. I am happy they have all listened to me.”

“We women have been degraded, dehumanizes and faulted in many ways. We have been victims of very many bad things, this training is restoring our humanity.”

Repeatedly in the testimony of survivors there comes a moment when a sense of connection is restored by another person’s unaffected display of another person’s story which is mirrored in the trauma of others. The survivor recognizes and reclaims a lost part of herself. At that moment, the survivor begins to rejoin the human commonality.

Way forward

The overall objective of this initiative is to re-orient the refugee assistance program to contribute to the improvement of the socio-economic conditions of the refugees and host communities, better prepare the host community to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities in upcoming extraction and the phase two of this project will reduce over-dependence on humanitarian aid and support the refugees to achieve durable solutions.