Monday, February 18, 2008

Feb 18, Solid progress, David Zarembka

Dear All,

I'll not repeat any of what I have been sending in my "Reports from Kenya." Since the Kenya situation is taking most of my time and thought I will report on it first.

AGLI has already received over $16,000 for our Kenya Relief and Reconciliation Fund from the US and almost $7,000 from England. (Note that relative to size, we are doing much better in England where I have made no special effort. You can draw your own conclusions.) With these funds (and hopefully more) we have lots of plans.

We are just finishing the 42 one-day AVP-style listening sessions with the Center for Disease Control. They seem to have gone very well even though many were during most difficult circumstances--participants showed up, an MP was assassinated, and the workshop was in turmoil as the people didn't know how and if they would get home. I will be reading the daily workshop reports soon. I am expecting to have a "surplus" from these workshops as the CDC paid us for our services. These will be used to further the AVP program.

The US Institute of Peace (who have twice given AGLI grants and we have another under consideration) hooked us up with Kuki (mother) and Sveva (daughter) Gallmann who run a 100,000 acre game preserve near Lake Baringo. They were bringing 40 youth for a week from the slums of Nairobi and they really needed help with the peacemaking component of their project. So we dispatched Getry Agizah (AVP coordinator who is only 28 years old), Peter Serete, and Martin Oloo. They did essentially the basic AVP in the morning and in the afternoon the preserve had art, drama, music aspects (which is what they do, besides nature conservancy). It went really well. So USIP has asked us to submit a joint grant application for up to $50,000. I have sent Kuki and Sveva a general plan. This application would be separate from the one we have in the pipeline (we are supposed to learn by the end of March).

We have done AVP at Friends Theological College. Half the students have gone through advanced. We have a plan to have all the 80 students (and some staff) complete through advanced by Easter break (almost a month long). Then we will do 4 Training for Facilitators at one time, with as many apprentice workshops in their Quaker churches as we can handle afterwards. This should then give us a large group of beginning facilitators. Half will graduate in June and so we can start using them in our regular workshop.

There is a place near Kakamega called Takatifu (Holy) Gardens which is a small retreat center. Starting on Monday Feb 25, we will be doing two AVP workshops there per week, hopefully mostly with youth. The Gardens will supply the site, food, and accommodations when necessary, while AVP will supply materials and the facilitators. We will continue with this as long as it continues to work out.

Then our regular AVP facilitators will be doing at least 100 AVP workshops (basic and advanced) with youth at various sites where we can organize. I am hoping to do one or more here in Lumakanda where a distant relative of Gladys's (a young Luhya man) was attacked by a Kikuyu with a machete and badly cut in the arm. (Was this an ethnic attack or a dispute over a girlfriend?) I hope I can get both sides to come to a workshop. I am also going to try to arrange for AVP workshops in the IDP camp where the Lumakanda Kikuyu went--when I go I notice many youth just hanging around doing nothing.

To do all of this for this year we have hired two assistant AVP coordinators, Peter Serete and Bernard Onjalo, and a part-timer, Eunice Okwemba (who is my sister-in-law, but one of the most active AVP facilitators). The funding for these will come out of the Kenya Relief and Reconciliation appeal.

Malesi Kinaro has been in the forefront of peacemaking here among Quakers in Kenya. She was the first to visit the IDP camp in Kakamega (when others were still too shocked and afraid to go), did listening sessions with the youth in Kakamega who participated in the violence, arranged for
> peace-making sessions between the Kipsigis and Kisii elders where 10 to 20 people were killed and hundreds of houses, shops, and schools were burned, and helping with the first 8 day of our listening project at the CDC. AGLI has agreed to make her a released Friends (which is a new concept here in Kenya) to continue to pursue her peacemaking endeavors as the way leads her and her support committee. AGLI will be raising specific funds for this from the Kenya workcampers, AVP facilitators who have come from overseas, people she met on her 2004 AGLI tour in the US, and others who know her work.

This past week Gladys and I went to Bududa, Uganda to see the situation there and visit/support Barbara Wybar who is there for 8 months. The technical institute has moved to a new site and given the name Bududa Vocational Institute. It opened on Feb 4 and has 32 students (plus two more the day we were there) which is more than the low 20's the school had in December. The new head, Paul Balidawa, has hired two new qualified teachers for the three programs--nursery school teaching (the most popular), tailoring, and bricklaying. They are hoping to get electricity (perhaps with a diesel generator) so that they can start teaching computer skills and a secretarial course (these will be extremely popular). The capacity of the building is 80 students so they have to start thinking of how to plan for the future.

The Children of Hope orphans program (which will be given a new name) is under "new management." They had there first session on Feb 9--I have reported on this in my regular reports. The most significant innovation will be rather than have the hierarchical all-powerful head (the "big man" method of administration so common in Africa and the cause of much mismanagement including the Children of Hope program), the staff (mostly school teachers) will run the program cooperatively with everyone having an assigned duty. If this works, it will be a good model for others.

Fortunately we have great, highly functioning staff in Rwanda, Burundi, and North Kivu because I have been unable to give much attention (and focusing on the other countries is difficult for me at this time). They are just continuing with their work. To put it another way, since there are no problems, I don't hear much. Both the Burundi and Rwandan programs have bought small cars as getting around to remote areas is difficult and frequently very expensive. Adrien's tour is turning out very well and he will be with us at the FPT meeting in Portland. Gladys and I will be there too. We will arrive in the US on Feb 29 and I have a lot of speaking engagements until we leave on March 17.


David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams

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