By: Ilhan Ali Salah, Vivian Adhiambo Omondi, & Jean Nobert Uwimana
Ms. Ilhan Ali Salah’s Experience:
I was thrilled when I got an internship opportunity at Shalom Centre of Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (SCCRR), an inter-ethnic and inter-religious peacebuilding non-governmental organization working in Eastern Africa. Shalom-SCCRR focuses on conflict transformation, peacebuilding, and development work in strife-ridden marginalized areas. Currently, I am a final year student pursuing my Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Diplomacy at Kenya Methodist University (KEMU).
Shalom-SCCRR has been the best place for me to put peacebuilding and conflict resolution theory into practice. I specifically appreciate the organization’s unique methodology in peacebuilding anchored on the sacred values of Peace, Truth, Justice, and Mercy. I have learnt that peace is more than just the mere absence of violence; but rather, it strives to create cooperation and dialogue where none previously existed. As such, Shalom’s interventions do not only seek to resolve the conflicts but to also addresses their root causes and journey with communities towards conflict transformation.
As a Muslim working with Shalom-SCCRR, it has been a great experience working and interacting with people of different faiths both among the staff and community members. They have been accommodative, respectful and tolerant of our different ethnic and religious diversities. This has enabled a good team working environment that has given me an opportunity to work among other staff members towards Shalom’s vision of ‘a society where Peace, Social Justice and Reconciliation prevails throughout the African continent.’
My time at Shalom-SCCRR has exposed me to vast knowledge and skills from different Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding projects in the informal urban settlements and other marginalised conflict environments in remote parts of Northern Kenya. Shalom seeks to uphold the rights and dignity of vulnerable and marginalised men and women, emphasising their invaluable role in breaking the vicious cycle of conflict and violence in their areas. The organization also works towards the prevention and transformation of Radicalization, Religious Ideological Extremism and Terrorism in Eastern Africa through its methodology aiming at achieving Tolerance, Inclusivity and Positive Peace.
My desire is to understand the underlying causes of protracted conflicts locally, in various African nations and globally, as these conflicts have caused immense suffering on humanity. The conflict transformation and peacebuilding knowledge, skills and experiences I have acquired from Shalom-SCCRR, have reinforced my resolve to continue pursuing further education (Masters) in Peace Studies and International Relations. I appreciate this invaluable opportunity that will forever remain my guide.
Ms. Ilhan Ali Salah
(A Kenyan living in Nairobi, Kenya.)
Ms. Vivian Adhiambo Omondi’s Experience:
“The three months internship experience at Shalom-SCCRR was a time of intensive learning of new knowledge and skills from a diversity of interventions and far-flung contexts that the organization works.” It was a unique opportunity to work in the informal urban settlements (slums) of Nairobi and the semi-arid pastoral lands in very remote areas of northern Kenya. I was privileged to work with a very qualified and professional team providing training workshops that focus on capacity building communities with knowledge and skills in conflict transformation and peacebuilding.
Throughout my attachment experience, I was actively involved in tasks focused on conflict analysis and designing of conflict transformation and peacebuilding interventions. Other tasks included but not limited to: training workshops, community peacebuilding implementations, peace education workshops, monitoring and evaluation etc.
During the field work in very remote and marginalized conflict areas, I witnessed the impact of Shalom-SCCRR 12 years of community empowerment and schools/educational development. From the various testimonies from teachers, schools were now running with none or minimal interruptions arising from violent inter-communal conflict incidents. The consistently developing peace as a result of Shalom-SCCRR interventions had further resulted to improved school attendance and notable good academic performance.
My sincere gratitude goes out to the Shalom-SCCRR management and the entire projects team, under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Patrick Devine and Fr. Oliver Noonan for giving me the opportunity of a memorable and fruitful period at Shalom-SCCRR. I have not only grown as a person, but also as a peace and conflict professional. Borrowing from the words of Nelson Mandela, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…” My experience in Shalom and with communities challenges me to be open to learning to improve myself as I improve others. I now look forward to doing my Masters addressing issues of Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation.
Ms. Vivian Adhiambo Omondi
(Whose family is from the Western part of Kenya along the Kenya-Uganda Border)
Mr. Jean Norbert Uwimana‘s Experience:
My internship experience at Shalom Center for Conflict and Reconciliation (SCCRR) was amazing. I was extremely honored to get the opportunity to work as an intern for this organization. I undertook this internship project under the guidance of Fr Oliver Noonan, the Executive Director, Shalom-SCCRR. I’m grateful to the Shalom-SCCRR team for their patience and assistance during my internship. It was a good learning experience for me to work in the Research, Programs, Monitoring Evaluation & Learning and Training departments, offering a wide range of learning and field experience. Nevertheless, I got to learn more from the Monitoring Evaluation and Learning department where I assisted in tabulations of the results. Thanks to Shalom-SCCRR – It was truly a learning experience with its highly qualified team that became like a family to me in Kenya.
During my field work in Samburu County, Kenya I was fascinated by how Shalom-SCCRR has empowered the local communities in the process of Conflict Analysis and design of interventions that go beyond dealing with the mere symptoms of manifest violent inter-communal conflict or structural violence to exploring the root causes.
I observed that Shalom-SCCRR had significantly impacted the lives of the marginalized communities in very remote areas of northern Kenya and other volatile parts of Eastern Africa. This is the way that the organization is promoting a society free from physical violence and unjust social structures, hence building peaceful and reconciled communities.
It was a real opportunity to participate in Shalom-SCCRR trainings workshops on conflict transformation and peacebuilding, peace education for schools in conflict zones, and Shalom empowerment of women from the informal urban settlements/slums who live under extreme poor conditions and constant physical and psychological violence.
I believe the efforts of Shalom-SCCRR team in empowering communities with analytical skills will have a positive impact in preventing elections related violence.
My learning was more practical and in real-life given the broad framework of Shalom-SCCRR’s scope of work. I now have more enhanced skills in data collection, data entry, conducting of training workshops and engagement with grassroot communities in the conflict environment. I appreciate the support and help I received from the Shalom-SCCRR management and staff during my experience in their organization.
This internship experience at Shalom-SCCRR, has improved my understanding in the field of peacebuilding and conflict transformation. As a Student at Hekima University College the internship has benefited me with research knowledge and skills that I will apply in writing my academic papers. I am so grateful for Shalom-SCCRR for giving me the opportunity, it has enabled me get to know how to devise and implement different peacebuilding and conflict transformation strategies in informal settlements, as I develop my facilitation skills. I am so grateful for Shalom-SCCRR for giving me the opportunity, it has enabled me get to know how to devise and implement different peacebuilding and conflict transformation strategies in informal settlements like Kibera and Mathare, and I still need to build up my public speaking skills as well. Overall, I found internship experience to be positive, and I’m sure I will be able to use the skills I learned in my career later.
Jean Norbert Uwimana