We were once children, we had these innocent like personalities –sweet, good hearted, forgiving, trusting, generous, and accepting – then life happened! Day in day out life bullied us and without realizing it we slowly buried these attributes and we let life expectations, religion, culture and society shape and define us and suddenly were withdrawn, judgmental, un accommodative, angry, bitter, suspicious of people who didn’t believe in what we did, who didn’t look like we did, or didn’t speak the dialect or sound like we did.
The Participants had had a full first day of building trust and getting to know each other. Now it was a day of reflection- of who they really were vs who they had become.
The concept of the diamond was introduced to the participants. The virtues that they had had been buried deep down and it was a time to find their way back to those virtues. They were sent in to group break-away to reflect on:
What/which 3 qualities do you feel you have lost?
Which life experience or belief has caused a change in your behavior?
Which quality would you like to work on this week?
It wasn’t easy for the participants, the traumas in their lives, the conflicts and clashes around them couldn’t just allow them to majestically walk back to who they were. Some of them had witnesses their families being butchered by people who they thought they knew and considered neighbors, others had been brutally beaten by their spouses – how could they just forget and walk back to their innocent virtues like nothing had happened? They all knew and understood that it wasn’t going to be easy but it needed to be done.
IF YOU REALLY KNEW ME…
“If you really knew me you would know that I am writing this in the middle of the night because that is when I function best…”
This activity was for the participants to get to know each other in a different way! The participants were grouped in pairs, then one person tells the other things about their life, be it social life, character, abut their family, careers, ambitions or life in general, that they felt stood out. They conversed animatedly around the grounds, you could see that their bond was deepening.
WELCOMING THE OTHER – THE ART OF HOSTING
Interfaith Leaders are slowly embracing the concept of ‘Welcoming the Other’ in places of worship. The participants went to World Wide Gospel Church – Malindi where they were welcomed by the lead Bishop. For the next 30 minutes people asked questions about the church, the services, the congregants and about Christianity in general. Next stop was Masjid Sayyidna A Bilaal Mosque, just in time for the 4pm prayers. First thing you should know about the Islam faith is that women do not pray in the same room as men.
“So if you really knew me you would know I am a lady…”
I keenly observed as the ladies did their ablution which is cleansing parts of the body, a type of ritual purification, this is done to prepare themselves for prayer. There was a curtain dividing the prayer rooms but we could hear the Imam from the men’s side leading the prayers and the ladies joined in the prayers from our side.
The prayers were followed by more questions on the faith.
The night was upon us, and we were gathered in a circle conversing about the day, ourselves and our communities.
“I was introduced to peace building by the NCCK, even though I am a Muslim the first group to embrace me, and guide me in to peace building and mediation was a Christian organization. It really defined who I am as a peace advocate”,
“I have never thought I would sit and have a sober conversation with Christians as I did today”
“We need to understand we are more that the conflicts, we are more than what divides us – that is why we need to stand for peace and join together to deal with the conflicts that threaten our county”
The participants went on and on in to the dead of the night.
The Tana River Peace builders were on their way to addressing what ailed their beloved County.
By Mary Ndulili