Animators for Development (AfD) community based organization received a grant through the Kibera Fund in an effort to implement civic engagement projects with a strong peace building component before and after elections. AfD’s approach is in engaging school children as change agents who are advocating for peace in the Mathare and Huruma slums. David Kobadha, the chairperson of AfD together with his team has been able to conduct a survey and identify 21 schools in the 7 areas of the Mathare slums.
“During the 2007 elections, children were equally influenced and affected by the post election violence. They witnessed and actively participated in violence against other children as a result of influence from parents and adults they live with.” says David. Amongst the schools they have identified and are working with is Genesis Joy high school which is located in Mathare Bondeni area.We meet Alex Mungwana Kasuvini, a form two student who chairs the peace and human rights club in his school. He formed the peace club when he was in his third term of form one.
“Initially, we were only three students who were in the club. I was affected by the 2007 post election violence and so wanted to advocate for peace in my community.” says Alex. He interacted with AfD when they came to his school for a forum and told them of his initiative. AfD has provided guidance for the club and seen the club grow to a total of fourteen students inclusive of all students in the various forms.
The peace club uses three approaches for peace advocacy; they hold debates with other peace clubs from other schools in Mathare area, they involve themselves in concerts in their community and preach the peace message and lastly, suitable act which is practicing what they preach.
“The concerts have really highlighted our peace club. When I walk around home, people keep approaching me and want to find out why I am inspired to be a peace ambassador.” remarks a jovial Alex. The peace club meets every Thursday at 4pm after classes.
AfD has been implementing activities through the election period which has greatly contributed to the calm environment in the slums as opposed to the scenario that was in 2007/2008 elections. One of the initiatives carried out was the peace forums in the seven areas of the Mathare slums. These forums continue to involve community leaders such as the area chiefs, council of elders and teachers in engaging and advocating for peace in the home and larger community.
Despite the challenges that came with the presidential petition hence delay in rolling out some activities, AfD continues to engage in peace initiatives and has planned for more activities such as a Peace Walk and Signage of peace commitment by peace agents, children and community members. They are targeting 2100 and have reached 410 so far through the peace forums.
Alex Mungwana form two student at Genesis Joy High School