On 27th December 2020, women beneficiaries from the Family Resilience project organized an informal meeting with children to enlighten them about the challenge of radicalization into violent extremism, and how they can protect themselves from becoming victims. The participants also commemorated the 20 years of interfaith collaboration for children by the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC).
A total of 200 participants, including 50 adults and 150 children and youth, attended the event. The Network and Programs Coordinator of the GNRC, Dr. Dorcas Kiplagat, graced the event. Other guests that attended the session included the Assistant County Commissioner, Mr. Henry Rop, Nyali District Peace Committee Chair, Ms. Shamsa Abubakar, and Mombasa faith leaders Sh. Khamis Aula, Rev. Kipruto Menego and Bishop Daniel Matho Fondo.
While opening the meeting, the local program coordinator, Rev. Maria Menego, noted that GNRC recognizes the vital role religious leaders and their communities play in fostering healthy values and supporting positive behaviors in their societies. She added that faith communities are important in preventing violent extremism due to their unique institutional resources and ties with communities and their capacity to facilitate, mobilize and organize members of the communities. Rev. Menego appreciated the support that GNRC in partnership with Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) and Goldin Institute have provided to the community, through the Family Resilience project. “The women from different faith backgrounds are provided with education on the nature of violent extremism and its prevention,” she stated. The project actively involves women working or living in informal settlements of Mombasa and Nairobi to prevent violent extremism (PVE) among children and youth.
“The Family Resilience project came at an opportune moment when most children and youth are at home and idle due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, children are vulnerable to engaging in gang crimes and violent extremism. Involving women in peace building processes is a major step towards ending radicalization and violent extremism since women can easily reach to children.” – Rev. Maria Menego, Program Coordinator, Family Resilience Project, and Faith Leader, Nyali Fellowship Mombasa.
During the meeting, Dr. Dorcas Kiplagat noted that women play a huge role in community empowerment and in peace building. She thanked the women leaders for fully embracing the project, offering valuable teachings to their family members, children and youth, and the wider community. She was pleased to learn that the empowered women, some of whom are teachers, others small business owners, community leaders, and mothers, have been able to reach almost 8,000 children with values education, peace building and coexistence among other virtues.
In his remarks, Assistant County Commissioner Mr. Henry Rop was pleased with GNRC’s recognition of women’s important role in peace processes noting that women faith actors and leaders can provide forums, through which the government can engage the children and youth, build capacity, partner with the government, train and disseminate information to the people. He reiterated that it was time for women to be actively engaged at all levels. He urged children not to be lured into gangs or extremist groups that perpetuate violence, instead concentrate on their studies and progress.
Ms. Shamsa Abubakar noted that the Family Resilience project brought a unique model of empowerment where it taught both women and children about peace, faith and development. She noted that due to the commitment the women demonstrated, the county government was ready to further equip them with peace building skills, to make them more effective in their outreach to the women and youth in their communities.
The meeting similarly celebrated 20 years of interfaith collaboration for GNRC that has focused on child rights; poverty eradication; ethics education; peace building; and network strengthening. Family Resilience Members, Ms. Margaret Gona and Ms. Eunice Amon led the participants in song and dance to celebrate the event. They expressed gratitude for GNRC reaching and transforming their lives.