‘‘Shalom’s continued support of our schools in Loiyangalani has enhanced interaction among our children hence lessening long-standing inter-communal animosity among conflicting communities in this area,”
Chief Sarai Fecha, Loiyangalani.
Shalom-SCCRR has, for the past four years, engaged communities in Loiyangalani in promoting sustainable peace and development in their area. Shalom has successfully implemented this through interethnic-community empowerment and institutional development, particularly inter-ethnic and inter-religious schools and institutions. Loiyangalani is the home of four different ethnic communities; the Rendille, Samburu, El-Molo and Turkana. In the recent past, there has been a cycle of dreadful violence between the tribes exacerbated by competition for natural resources, exploitation of those resources by a wind power plant, tribalism and political incitement. Communication between each community has often broken down and in some cases descending into overt violence as in January of this year. Shalom-SCCRR is on the ground persistently with the communities and has facilitated the resumption of negotiations/talks between the communities.
In the midst of all this are a number of schools supported by Shalom-SCCRR which are inter-ethnic and inter-religious and are providing a beacon of light, becoming an inspiration in helping the communities to re-engage in community dialogue with the expert guidance of Shalom-SCCRR. This is something which is replicated in other neighbouring regions as local communities find inspiration from their children and parents who are learning, playing and reaching out to each other within the school system. Of course, it also brings the parents from different sides into processes of dialogue and reconciliation as they are concerned for their children’s future. As the schools are being supported by Shalom-SCCRR, these school children are seeing a new future: one of peace, co-existence with others and the actualizing of their full potential. Shalom is engaging these schools and pupils in processes to embrace peace and delegitimize the use of force in addressing conflicts which in turn fosters a culture of reconciliation and development.
In the month of May 2019, Loiyangalani Primary school was provided with desks,mattresses and solar lighting systems. The desks will reduce the number of pupils sharing a desk in classrooms from five to two, hence making teaching and learning much easier for both the teachers and the pupils. The solar panels and mattresses, according to the school’s boarding master Mr. John Wangisa, will help in the improvement of boarding facilities in the school stating that:
“Majority of our pupils will no longer have to walk 8 – 10 kilometres a day to and from school because of lack of enough boarding facilities.”
The Board of Management, parents and teachers receiving the materials, lauded Shalom for supporting schools across Loiyangalani area. Chief Sarai Fecha noted that ‘‘we really appreciate Shalom’s presence in Loiyangalani… Their continued support of our schools has improved the face of our institutions and greatly transformed the schooling life of our children. The members of our communities can now see our children learning and interacting together, a clear indication that we as adults can also overcome our inter-communal hatred and promote peaceful coexistence amongst ourselves.’’
Loiyangalani Primary school has now become a symbol of unity bringing together children from the major conflicting communities in the area. According to the Head Teacher of the school Mr. Jacob Naikele, “The school’s diversity has promoted inter-communal interaction and integration among previously antagonistic communities.” His sentiments were echoed by the school’s head boy Nachake Akolong who stated that ‘‘our diversity is our strength and schooling together has diluted inter-communal animosity among our communities.’’
Shalom’s Inter Communal Cohesion Project in Marsabit will continue nurturing sustainable peace and development among communities in the area through facilitation and promotion of inter-communal dialogues and peaceful interactions. The organization prides itself in the recognition that ‘Peace is the bedrock for educational development which in turn is not only essential but inspires and stabilizes peace processes,’ Fr. Patrick Devine, PhD, Shalom-SCCRR’s Executive Chairman.
By Esther Kibe, MA, BA; Shalom-SCCRR’s Program Officer, Marsabit Project & Head of Communication Department