Kenya has been shaken to its core by violence that rocked all corners of the country following the announcement of the 2007 presidential election results which were released after a flawed vote tallying processes. This violence is unprecedented in Kenya which has always been regarded, by the international community as well as by Kenyans, as an oasis of peace in a unstable region of the world. This violence has resulted in people being injured or even killed and property worth billions of shillings destroyed. Large numbers of people, and indeed whole communities, have been affected by the violence with some ending up in Internally Displaced Persons camps across the country.
UZIMA Foundation is playing an active role in the efforts to restore peace in Kenyan communities. UZIMA Foundation is uniquely placed for this work for a variety of reasons.
1, UZIMA Foundation is a youth based youth-serving organisation focusing on youth empowerment that stimulates young men and women to define, plan for and act to experience improved quality life for themselves and their communities. As most of the violence is being perpetrated by young men, albeit on the instructions of older men, UZIMA youth can relate directly to the concerns and attitudes of those perpetrating the violence and thus can help identify approaches which have a higher chance of succeeding.
2. UZIMA Foundation, in its more than 10 years of existence, has always highlighted the importance of having positive relationships between UZIMA youth and their families and communities. UZIMA Foundation has always worked with the youth in their communities. This means that UZIMA Foundation is deeply embedded in many of the communities which have been affected by the violence. Rather than having to start form scratch to build up effective relationships through which to work, UZIMA is already in a position of trust in many of the affected communities because of the work it has been carrying out for over 10 years.
3. UZIMA Foundation has been running a very successful Alternative to Violence Programme (AVP) for the last 8 years. UZIMA Foundation members have travelled as far as Rwanda and the Middle East to assist in peace efforts in communities rocked with violence. This training and international exposure means that UZIMA Foundation as an organisation has the skills, expertise and experience to carry out effective peace and reconciliation work in communities shaken by violence.
4. UZIMA Foundation, as a national home grown Kenyan foundation active in many parts of the country and with a leadership drawn from all over Kenya, understands the concerns, fears and angers of local communities while retaining a national “big picture” outlook on the crisis.
During the Kenyan crisis, UZIMA Foundation has been working in the Rift Valley province, which was the epic centre of the post election violence, in Western and Nyanza provinces as well as in the heart of Nairobi. Please click here to read a summary of the initial report.