Below is a report on an advanced AVP workshop with Muslim and Christian youth that was conducted in Turbo Division, Uasin Gishu county, western Kenya. Previously two basic workshops were held, and subsequently aTraining for Facilitator workshop has been conducted and the apprentice workshops are being arranged.
This report is important, not for the specifics of the training itself, but of the great divide between Muslims and Christians throughout the world. In some places included the coast of Kenya and northern Nigeria this has led to violence and killings. In so many other places, there is a deep divide and mutual misunderstanding between adherents of the two religions. It is in this context that this report is significant – that is, thousands and thousands of these workshops need to be done around the world including the United States.
Program: Alternative to Violence Advanced Training
Venue: Juakali, Kenya, Industrial Estate Hall
Participants: 25, male 14, female 11
Dates: June 13 -15, 2013
Facilitators: Caleb Amunya, Olive Kamave, Jennifer Bonareri and Peter Serete
After completing two basic AVP trainings, it was very difficult to select 25 participants to proceed to the Advanced Training. We considered the potential in the first 25 participants from Muslim and Christians communities who will carry the flag of owning the program and helping other members of the community through the expansion of peace committees in their respective localities. The workshop focused on topics that enabled participants to improve communication skills, self-esteem, conflict resolution and transforming power. Participants showed their commitment through active participation.
Bringing Christians and Muslims together and sharing openly their grievances, confidentiality, brought deeper and great experience from the process of every exercise done in AVP. This was evident when we did the first exercise of “In Common.” “I have realized that we have many good things in common and if we can affirm the fact that through these things that we share in common can be the foundation that can bring the two religions together with different talents that will enable us to build good relationships that can bring peace — then violence and conflict in our community can be the thing of the past.” Idi Mwenesi”
The question, “Does the Quran really contain dozens of verses promoting violence?” that was asked by Pastor Tarus provoked a deeper, healthy discussion and Malim Musa Sadala did not lack answers:
Many Muslims as well as Non-Muslims quote some verses from Qur’an which preach peace, and non-violence. I can give an example, The very word ‘Islam’ (from the Arabic silm) connotes peace. According to a tradition of the Prophet, ‘Peace is Islam’ (Al-Bukhari). This means that peace is one of the prerequisites of Islam. Similarly, a Hadith states: ‘A Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands people are safe.’ One of the attributes of God described in the Quran is ‘As-Salam’, which means peace and security.’ That is to say that God’s Being itself is a manifestation of peace. Indeed, God is Peace (Al-Bukhari). In the Quran divine guidance is likened to the paths of peace. (5:16).
The advanced training gave participants an opportunity to the sense of belonging when it comes to matters of making decisions, and this was experienced in a consensus exercise, “If we can be patient enough and take into consideration of everyone’s opinion and agree, then as a community we will impress peace and bring change.” On other hand, it was a challenge for other participants, especially youth, who lack the virtue of patience and the concept of consensus, because it needed patience to reach consensus.
Both Christians and Muslims are vulnerable and a much endangered generation considering many of them have fallen victim of many social injustices and abuse. Through the training they realized the role they play when it comes to perpetrating violence and the responsibility they have to bring peace, and it was emphasized that the two religions should take the lead in bringing change through being peaceful and they will respect human dignity. “As a participant of this training, I find that we should consider choosing good values that will enhance our freedom and can lead us to good life in relation to violence — being used in violence, drug abuse and bad life habits destroys the goodness and the potential we have. If we unify to resist and reject violence then we will be building a new society. Even if a Muslim should be convinced that someone is a non-believer, still he must accept that his fate is in the hands of God alone, since no one human can condemn another — this must be left to the judgment of God,” Malim Sadala.
After all had be said and done, the young participants in this training went into contract with themselves on the things they want to commit to and peace was one of the contracts. They vowed to impress it through creating peace awareness and spreading the same to other communities. Interestingly participants thought they are now ready to go and facilitate the same after completing the three days’ advanced training.
Evaluation and way forward
“We wish to thank Friend Church Peace Team through AGLI, our sponsor, and AVP facilitators for the great work that is being done in Uasin Gishu County through peace training. The organization has shed light in many of us. It is our appeal you continue supporting our peace work in this region and strengthen peace committees which was a good gesture and a way forward that will enable AVP be owed by the community.” It was in this training that participants were more than willing to get food that can help them do more workshops – “we all agreed that after we have done Training for Facilitators workshop, we will initiate that proposal during apprenticing workshops.”
The report was written by Peter Serete, Caleb Amunya, Oliva Kamave and Jenniffer Bonareri