Press Release 1

March 30, 2009

Inter-denominational summit to empower youth as leaders and peace builders

(Nairobi, Kenya, April 13-18) Responding to the violence that wreaked havoc in Kenya in 2007 after the presidential election, the Kenyan Evangelical Lutheran Church (KELC) will host an inter-denominational youth peace summit from April 13-18 in Nairobi. The meeting will provide a platform for reflecting on the post-election violence and develop youth-led peace building processes geared toward addressing factors that fuel violence in Kenya and wider horn of Africa.

Organized by the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church (KELC) with financial support from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Global Mission, the event brings together nearly 200 youth. The meeting will strategize responses to the aftermath and challenges posed by the 2007 post-election violence that left more than 350,000 displaced from their homes and another 1,200 dead.

The summit comes at a time that Kenya is striving for national healing and reconciliation among its 42 tribes and cohesion among its population in the context of an increasingly volatile situation in the country and region at large. To ensure the meetings success, KELC has teamed up with Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), Church World Service (CWS), Fellowship of Christian Council and Churches in Great Lakes area and the Horn of Africa (FECLAHA) and All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) in quest for peace.

The inter-denominational and interfaith gathering brings together Muslims, Methodists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Catholics and Lutherans from across Kenya as well as Rwanda, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, United States, South Africa and hosts Kenya. Youth affected by the Rwanda genocide in 1994 and former internally displaced persons are also expected to participate.

Meeting under the theme ‘Embrace Peace fulfill Dreams’ the summit hopes to reverse the helplessness and hopelessness that many youth face, which fueled by political manipulation, poverty, unemployment, negative ethnicity and inequality, all contributed into flare-up of violence in 2007. To document the conference and share the stories of how youth experienced and responded to the violence, a youth media team has been trained to blog live from the summit at: https://peacesummit2009.wordpress.com.

The summit kicks off the first of a three-phase process to develop youth-led peace initiatives in addition to empowering youth with life skills. As part of the week-long program, participants will learn skills in project development, financial management and entrepreneurship skills, including how to access micro-credit. For the next phase of the process, a peer-review team comprised of youth selected at the conference will determine youth-led peace and development projects to receive small grants.

The Kenya Peace Summit follows up a similar gathering held in Rwanda in March 2008 and series of peace initiatives among churches in East and Horn of Africa. The Youth Gathering in Rwanda was supported by a grant from an offering of the ELCA Youth Gathering, and provided youth in Rwanda a space 14 years after the genocide to reflect, encouraged reconciliation and learn skills to launch small-scale businesses. The Rwandan genocide left more than 300,000 orphans and more than one million dead in 1994.

For more information log on to: https://peacesummit2009.wordpress.com

Contact person
George Arende: 250 0726 469 518

Advertisements

Francis narrates his post-election violence experience

March 21, 2009

The post-election witnessed in December and January 2009 taught great lessons through the experience I had while working as a volunteer with the Kenya Red Cross Society. We were in-charge of relief distribution, offered first aid services to the injured, traced lost members of family, performed logistics including other operations. To date its only one experience that lingers in my mind since it was so traumatic.

It was in early January 2008 while in a Red Cross ambulance that we received a radio call from one of our seniors, of an emergency incidence in the heart of Mathare slums where people were said to be in critical condition and required urgent response. We set off and rushed to the scene. On our way to the scene we reached Mlango Kubwa where a gang of armed youths carrying all forms of crude weapons had lined up other men whom they claimed were from ‘the enemy community’. Beside the place we were laid five bodies oozing blood and had stained the enter place with blood. For a moment I shut my eyes in horror… it was too much for me to comprehend. I hardened my heart and had to be brave since I knew ultimately we were the ones to collect the bodies and scattered body-parts to mortuary.

Our team leader got off the ambulance and pleaded with gang to release the lined up men and not to harm them. The gang leaders couldn’t listen and replied in kiswahili- “tupatie chakula na sisi tuwaachie miili msipeleke mortuary” (give us food for us to release them to save you from taking the bodies to the mortuary).

After a lengthy pleading the armed gang opted not to kill the men. Before freeing them they performed all sorts of assault on their bodies… an action that left many of them bleeding profusely. We later conducted first aid to them as we waited for another ambulance to pick the dead.

In order to avoid repeat of the violence we witnessed I urge the Kenyan youths who count for the larger population not to elect leaders on the basis of tribal affiliations and for the government to speed job creation for the ever-growing youth population.


JUDITH’S STORY

March 21, 2009

The violence that followed the 2007 general elections was heart breaking, I still cant believe that people can do such horrible deeds to their fellow human beings, I witnessed killings, destruction, plunder and rape. The worst experience was on 1st of January 2008 when I witnessed the gruesome death of my friend. I was taking a walk with her and another friend of mine in the streets of Mathare North in Nairobi. We were stopped by two men and they started asking us which tribe we belonged to, they later asked for our national Identification cards, we didn’t have any on us, so they resorted to talking to us using their mother tongue to confirm our tribes. One of my friend understood and responded. She was released and asked to run as fast as she could and instructed not to look back. The other who didn’t understand was beaten and they started assaulting her sexually. She cried for help but it was too dangerous for us to return and help. She was rescued by police officers that were nearby, and rushed to hospital were she died on arrival. It was difficult to believe people we lived with could do such a thing to my friend.
Young people most of the time receive bribes from our leaders in order to vote for them. They do that because they do not have any other source of gainful employment since there are no jobs. The government can help create jobs to avoid youth idling for an idle mind is the devils workshop.


NAOMI MONTHE STORY

March 20, 2009

On the fateful day of the presidential results announcement, I was with some of my friends talking outside my home. Everything seemed quiet, until a crowd carrying machetes and stones came from nowhere chanting political slogans.

The chanting crowd demanded the exit of members of a certain community from the area ‘you voted for the opposition candidate’ they chanted. Curious to get a better view I ran towards the marauding youth unaware of the dangers of my action.

They were now threatening to break into houses of rival communities. Sensing danger I rushed back to the comfort of my home. Police on patrol acted swiftly to rescue and quell the growing tension to no avail. What seemed like one of my childhood games (hide and seek) pursued between the police and the heavily armed youth. Houses were touched in the process a situation that generated fear within my Mathare neighborhood. Curfew was quickly declared that evening from 7.00pm until morning and was to be followed strictly.

My family and all the neighbors adjacent spent the better part of the night in fear. We could hear screams and shouts of women, children and even men asking for help but it was too dangerous mission which could be life threatening. On peeping through our mad thatched house we could see one of our neighbours house on fire. With no help from fearful neighbours the fire quickly spread to our house which was burnt to ashes. We dashed out and did not manage to salvage anything including my personal belonging, clothes and books.

With no home we moved to the gates of Moi airbase camp and were later transferred to Mathare chief’s camp, where I lived in a tent with my family for eight months supported with food and clothes from Red Cross and the Lutheran church.

My solution to this unfortunate events is to urge the government to take responsibility and create jobs for the youths.


post election violence Jactons perspective

March 20, 2009

31st Dec 2007 is a day the residence of the lakeside city of Kisumu will never forget. The city was turned into a battlefield after the presidential elections results were announced. The police were all over the streets ready to deal with the crowds, which were threatening to cause chaos.

The situation got form bad to worse; the people lit bone fires, erected illegal roadblocks and wrote offensive graffitis’ on the walls. Members of certain communities were forcefully chased from their homes. The police were given shoot to kill orders and according to the National Human Rights Commission report, 75% of the Deaths in Kisumu were blamed on the police.

Food in the town was scarcely available, houses and shops were looted and arsonist took advantage to burn the structures. Rowdy gangs took advantage of the situation to assault women sexually.

My advice as a young Kenyan is directed to our development partners together with our local sponsors to organize more forums where youths from allover the country can be brought together, and be sensitized on the importance of living in harmony regardless of their ethnic affiliations.