According to the UN (World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund, 2018) approximately, 1 billion children are imperilled to violence across the globe annually. The implication of these prevalent acts of violence are allied with effects such as; psychological well- being, brain function and sociological on the abused children. The UN study on Violence Against Children (2006) definition of violence is drawn from Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in which it states; ‘all forms of physical or mental violence, injury and abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation including sexual abuse’’.
In Kenya, the 2010 first national survey of Violence Against Children study (VACs) indicates that Violence against children is a solemn and predominant case. According to the survey 66% of females and 23% male experience physical violence prior to the age of 18.
‘’We must do all that we can to give our children the best in education and social up bringing for while they are the youth of today, they shall be the leaders of tomorrow’’ President John F. Kennedy (USA).
The effects of poverty in slums is associated with poor hygiene, educational inequality, malnutrition, vulnerability, most households are single headed especially by women, social inequality that precedes crime, violence and conflict. Children born and raised in such hostile environment have limited opportunities in life. In addition to surviving with their strenuous everyday life, some of these children contribute to the family’s income by collecting trash, selling various items on the road as ways of assisting their families in meeting their basic needs.
Shalom (SCCRR) work in the slum areas in Nairobi specifically Mathare, Kariobangi and Kibera is based and driven by the desire to transform conflict to positive peace. This is achieved through breaking down barriers that inhibit individuals and communities from fostering a culture of peace. These barriers range from the violation of human rights, environmental related constrains and lack of basic needs. Shalom impacts the communities with knowledge and skills in peace building, conflict resolution and transformation processes that transforms the conflict generating actors and structures into agents and instruments of peace in their societies.
Shalom’s participation in the 2018 peace annual event on the 20th July in Kariobangi provided an apt opportunity for the 600 pupils and students in attendance to learn on the value for peace in their schools and communities. The inter-ethnic and inter-religious event themed Violence Against Children lay specific emphasises on shielding children from all forms of abuse and violence. During the event the pupils from eight schools in the Kariobangi show cased their plight in songs, plays, poems, traditional dances. They lay specific emphasise on early marriage to the girl child, the right to education, discrimination due to gender and tribe, and the need to have peace in Kenya for the proper growth of children. The crowd was also moved by an orphan child who highlighted about the plight and burdens of orphaned children. She recounted how her and her siblings had to drop out of school and she was married off at a very ripe age, went through sexual and domestic abuse but she was later rescued by well-wishers who took her back to school. These experiences denotes the challenges of these pupils emanating from violation of their human rights and their hostile environment and in most cases end up giving up and resulting to conflict as a way of breaking from the cycle of violence.
Shalom’s Peace Education Program in schools is aimed at imparting skills that empower children in exploring creative non-violent and non-destructive ways thereby delegitimizing the use of force in solving conflicts. The Shalom team encourage and empower the pupils to develop pro-peace attitudes, skills and competences that helps them establish peace within and outside the school environments. The peacebuilding skills of problem solving, conflict resolution, empathy, assertiveness, sharing and cooperation will assist the pupils to respond to their personal, group, local, community and national issues and transform them for the peace and stability of their lives and that of their communities. In addition to that, Shalom (SCCRR) continuous to supports the provision and enhancement of education through Peace Education Development Projects in slums environs. In Kariobangi, for example St. Martin de Porres Primary School was provided with teaching and learning materials aimed at encouraging pupils to enrolment in schools as opposed to engaging in crime and conflict activities.
Shalom remains committed in proving hope to all the children by inculcating human and social values from conflict environs towards just and sustainable futures.
Author: Asha Awed, B.A., M.A Candidate: Intern