Promoting Peace during Kenya’s Elections February 27, 2013  by      

  By: Suzanne Thomson, Organizational Consultant, CFK Kenya

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On March 4th, Kenya will have its general elections.  This is the first general election since the now infamous 2007 election that erupted into violence.  It’s also the first one under the new constitution, the first time some Kenyans in the Diaspora will be able to vote, and the first time that there are candidates who will soon be on trial at the International Criminal Court for their part in the 2007 chaos.  This is a significant election for Kenya for many reasons, and in Kenya, everyone is talking about it – all the time.  The fact of the matter is that no one knows what will happen. Will the elections go smoothly? Will there be a run-off? Will people fight? Will everything be sorted out in a week?  Two weeks, a month, three months? Everywhere, there’s a good deal of speculation about what will happen flying around – in newspapers and magazines, in security briefs, on the streets, over coffees, on matatus…

DSC_0205 [Resized]And so it’s in this context that the Carolina for Kibera (CFK) team continues on with their work in the community of Kibera, one of the so-called “hotbeds” for political and ethnically-charged violence.  But this post isn’t really about the election or violence per se; rather, it’s about what is happening programmatically at CFK in the context of the election.  As anyone can imagine, it’s difficult to plan and implement programs when a significant and somewhat unpredictable event is just around the corner.  How does anyone plan to move forward with a community when it’s not clear what that community will look like in a week or two?

With all the question marks lined up for the times directly before and after the election, this has become a pivotal moment for CFK’s work. The first quarter of 2013 will see several key trainings and activities taking place.  First, many principal staff members have been training with partners from Curamericas to prepare to roll-out intensive work with community health workers in the area of sanitation and health.  Second, the education program is conducting home visits to interview DSC_0213 [Resized]potential new secondary school scholarship recipients and their families.  Third, the sexual and reproductive health team is training its newest youth peer educators, who will do the important work of disseminating the latest information about reproductive health to their peers in school and around the community.  And finally, the sports team has organized for a week-long training with youth peer educators sourced from all CFK programs. There, youth will learn more about civic duty, the new constitution, their rights under the constitution, the upcoming election’s implications for the future of Kenya, peaceful conflict resolution, and more – all in order to share this information throughout the community prior to the election.

This time has also been key for the various candidates vying for seats in the government.  In fact, they recently held the first Presidential debate — the first ever —in Kenyan history.  There’s so much going on in Kenya right now it can make your head spin.  With a staff of all Kenyans and a vested interest in seeing Kibera – and Kenya in general – change for the better, CFK is paying careful attention to everything that is going on and integrating all that is happening into its work with the community.

How else is CFK fostering peace in Kibera? The documentary film Without a Fight tells a story of peace-building through sports, featuring players from Carolina for Kibera’s Champions League. Get your copy today… All proceeds go to support CFK’s Sports Association in Kenya!

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