Celebrating women and peace in Meru, Kenya
A team from Initiatives of Change (IofC) Kenya travelled to Meru, Eastern Kenya, to join a partner organization, International Peace Initiatives (IPI), in a series of activities - among them the celebration of the International Women’s Day. The team was comprised of John Njoroge from Subukia, Samuel Muiruri -Nakuru, Esther Marie Inzekellah - Nairobi and Zachariah Muturi - Nairobi/Subukia and was hosted by the President of International Peace Initiatives, Dr Karambu L Ringera at her Kithoka Community Home. IPI has been a partner of IofC through the Peace Circles programme and it is also a supporter of the Eastern Africa Youth Forum. Recently, IPI has had talks on partnering with IofC Kenya to run the Clean Elections Campaign. The partnership is vital in reaching out to a wide network in Kenya and beyond.
Another of the activities was joining the Kithoka women in their successful procession for Peace and later joining the women in their peace seminar. Their keenness to learn about peace could be read on their faces. There was no doubt that the women appreciated the involvement of men, particularly the ones from IofC, for it was an indication that men are also in support of women empowerment.
A session that moved people to tears was on a Women Listening Event (WLE) where women were given a chance to share their inspirational stories). Esther Marie Inzekellah, a young lady who has been inspired by the values and philosophy of IofC, moved the women when she shared her personal life experience, a story that inspired and challenged women of Kithoka to take on serious responsibility to care, protect and give equal opportunities to both girls and boys. Other women told of their involvement in rebuilding the broken bridges in their respective societies.
It was amazing to witness how women living with HIV/AIDs have re-integrated into the Kithoka community. They shared their experiences of how they came to accept the status of their partners and how they live positively with the HIV virus as 'one of their closest friends' and how they have engaged in various activities that have enhanced peace among themselves.
On the last day, there was a community peace forum session facilitated by Dr Karambu, aimed at identifying and addressing factors that destabilize peaceful co-existence among the Kithoka community members. Some of the issues identified included gender inequality, negligence among the youth, domestic violence, idleness and drug abuse among the young people. The need for affirmative action in the region was clearly felt and therefore a strategic meeting to forge a community action was planned which will take place on 31 March, 2012.
The community forum was strategically scheduled to take place on the last day for the community to see that they can actually resolve their issues within themselves even without government intervention.
Zachariah Muturi and Samuel Muiruri