Ireland’s Overseas Development Minister Joe McHugh joined Irish Ambassador to Kenya Dr. Vincent O’Neill on a special visit to see the work of Shalom this past week. The Irish Independent covered the story in full, with a detailed feature by reporter Greg Harkin on the meetings with Shalom, and the work of Fr. Patrick Devine and his team, including a trip to the field to meet with villagers:
AN Irish priest is being hailed for a conflict resolution project which is helping to end centuries of hate between rival tribes in Kenya.
Father Patrick Devine leads the multi-faith Shalom Centre in the capital Nairobi from where peace efforts are co-ordinated in nine rural conflict zones.
In the tiny village of Tuum, in the northern county of Samburu, children of former combatants now go to school together for the first time as a result of the initiative.
Through funding from private donors in Ireland and from the Irish Government through its overseas development wing, Irish Aid, the Irish-led centre has expanded or built 120 inter-ethnic schools across thousands of kilometres of rural Kenya.
Fr Devine and fellow SMA priest, Cork city native Fr Oliver Noonan, have been training 5,000 community leaders and village elders in resolving often ancient land and cattle disputes.
The story quotes Raphaela Lelaono from the Samburu Women’s Group in northern Kenya, who told Irish readers that her people no longer live in fear.
“It was bad here. One community would attack the other and then there would be a revenge attack and people lost their lives.
“It was very sad,” she says.
“Father Patrick and Shalom have shown us a new way and it is working.”
Minister McHugh praised Shalom’s work and the dedication of Fr. Devine and his team to lasting peace:
“It was incredible to see two communities united in such a short period of time,” says McHugh.
“But the peace building has to continue and it’s important that Ireland continues to support Fr Devine in his work here.
“The Irish missionaries have left an incredible imprint on Kenya through health and education work for generations.
“Other communities around the world in similar situations could benefit from the best practice being adopted here.”
The minister had dozens of engagements during his four- day trip to Kenya, addressing an international development conference and helping cement relations between companies which will see Irish potatoes grown here on a wider scale.
Read the fully story at the Independent here.