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Kenyan peacebuilders join forces to boost positive interfaith relations

22 December 2017

Participants of the first ever Faith in the Commonwealth training workshop have pledged to lead the charge in building strong, positive interfaith and intercultural relations.

Twenty-eight dynamic peacebuilders from 16 Kenyan districts joined forces during a 2.5 day training programme, jointly initiated by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Khalili Foundation. The diverse group of young people included community development workers, youth workers, university students, musicians, artists, social activists and representatives from civil service organisations. They explored effective ways to facilitate and support dialogue and drive positive change within their communities. The ultimate aim, facilitators say, is to develop and promote deeper respect and understanding of different faiths, cultures and beliefs.

 “The training that focused on interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue and global citizenship could not have come at a better time,” said participant Keith Andere from the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network. “Kenya has just come out of a long electioneering period following the Supreme Court’s annulment of the 8 August presidential election. The country is now focused on dialogue and ways to reconcile, as the politics left the country divided. In my view, the training provided an opportunity to capacity build the youth with skills that will see us take the lead in facilitating dialogue among the young people.”

Balqesa Abdi Sheikh added, “Facilitation is not about teaching, but about generating and guiding conversations. During this training I learnt how facilitation, learning, training and fun can be blended to deliver a workshop.”

The participants received practical training in facilitating dialogues and group discussions using a method that explores difference while building respect and understanding. It prepared them to facilitate groups that deal with potentially divisive issues in a way that focuses on appreciating their own and others’ identities, beliefs, realities and aspirations.

“These young people are joined by their shared passion to make a change in their community, and a commitment to building lasting peace in their country and Africa at large,” said Faith in the Commonwealth project manager Michelle Callander.”

“They can now return to their communities not only with new skills, but with a project to deliver and a new multi-stakeholder network of practitioners to partner and collaborate with. Their projects draw on the skills, resources and broader networks of the young trainers. In many cases there are co-facilitation workshops led by trainers from neighbouring districts, working together to mentor and coach each other as they develop their facilitation skills. The group is already connected on social media channels and is maintaining the momentum and energy they generated in Nairobi.”

Layne Robinson, Head of Social Policy Development, Economic, Youth and Sustainable Development Directorate added, “Creating sustainable, local change that’s led by young people is the ultimate goal of the training. The Faith in the Commonwealth’s monitoring and evaluation framework connects this new network of young trainers with both the Commonwealth’s existing youth networks and with the Kenyan government’s youth officers. This provides ongoing monitoring, mentoring and support to the trainers and creates the best possible opportunity for their training to make a difference at the grassroots.’ 

The next Faith in the Commonwealth training workshops will be held in Trinidad and Tobago and Bangladesh.