In Kenya's capital, Nairobi, one organisation is trying to put healing and love at the forefront of their work. Introducing, Peace Labs.
We could all agree the world would be better off without conflicts of any scale. We can work on preventing them from happening at all, or work on peace-building after they occur.
Who else could prevent or build peace better than young generations?
Re-Imagining New Communities (RNC) understands this completely and they invest on this with their Children-Led Community Peace Labs (CLCP Labs), that are being piloted in Nairobi with possible up-scaling across Kenya and region.
CLCP Labs provide a safe space for children (7-13 years of age) living in conflict-affected communities in which they can learn and practice peace-building skills on a weekly basis.
The programme supports, mentors, and equips children with the skills needed to be more resilient and aware of unpredictable chronic and political violence that erupts in these communities.
Youth Time spoke to Mukami Mungai, RNC Communication, who exclusively for your readers share more on this program’s goal, how it benefits the community and children in particular and how it aims to shift the perceived role of children living in low-income communities from vulnerable victims of conflict to agents of change in their communities.
Passionate about telling strong human-interest stories, in this piece, Mungai, among other things, elaborates on why when peace education starts in the family unit and extends to school, we can raise responsible children who can diffuse conflict within their communities.
Peace Labs in a Nutshell
The Children-Led Community Peace Labs is a programme that equips children of ages 7-13 with peace-building and conflict resolution skills and knowledge to achieve solid change on individual and social levels which would allow them to face and overcome the constantly escalating external threats within their communities.
“The current cohort comprises 15 pupils and five teachers drawn from five primary schools in Nairobi’s informal settlements of Korogocho, Babadogo, Mathare and Pumwani.
“We hold the training every Saturday where the young peace-builders are taught about social harmony and prevention of violence.”
The mentors and trainers use storytelling, conflict theatre, dance as tools of learning for easier comprehension.
Children Offering Solutions
As we mentioned, these labs seek to shift the perceived role of children living in low-income communities from vulnerable victims of conflict to agents of change in their communities.
But how do they achieve this?
“Persons living within the informal settlements are more at risk; especially the poor in the urban areas who are prone to violence and crime. We have attributed this to several factors such as unemployment, scarce education opportunities, overcrowding and inequality.”, Mungai explains.
She further adds, whenever there is violence, particularly during elections, children from these informal settlements bear the worst brunt.
“Some are killed and others lose their caregivers and parents. The Children-led Community Peace Labs programme provides such children with a platform to chart their destiny.
“The voice of children in peace-building has been overlooked, yet they are the greatest sufferers of war that is why the program’s approach is focused on allowing children to identify local causes of conflict within their communities and offer solutions.”
After the training, they match the participating children with mentors who help them in continuous development.
She talks about how this works, and in what areas children are mainly trained.
“Mentorship is a very fundamental aspect of our training and that is why once the children complete training, we connect them with mentors to create an all rounded and balanced adult.”
Besides, CLCP Labs’ mentors are committed to foster continuous improvement through simple programs such as creative writing, photography, dancing and public speaking.
A Programme Helping the Whole Community
Although this program targets children specifically, its benefits lie broader than simply this, as its primary aim is to ensure that children own and lead peace processes.
“They [children] do not have to see it as a foreign or strange concept that is only discussed by adults,” she adds.
Conclusively, Mungai recalls they want the children to internalise the concept of peaceful coexistence.
“This is because we believe that when peace education starts in the family unit and extends to school”.
In this way, she believes they can raise responsible children and adolescents who can diffuse conflict within their communities.
Photos: Peace Labs
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