Friday, April 17, 2009

Kenyan Peaceworker Visits TMS

Kenyan Peaceworker Gentry Agizah Anguva visits The Meeting School

On April 16 Kenyan Friend and peaceworker Gentry Agizah Anguva visited The Meeting School as part of a United States tour in which she has been speaking to people about the recent violence in her country and efforts to restore peace and prevent further violence.

Speaking to faculty and students this 27-year-old woman talked about her country and its political, class and tribal divisions. The East African country has a history of peace during recent times when other African countries like the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda have been torn by violence.

Her country is a good and attractive place with wonderful people and tracts of natural forests, she said. “We are proud of what we have there.”

Every five years the country has elections and the 2007 election became a catalyst for tribal revenge and violence that included arson, rape, looting, killing and the displacement of people..

“Kenya as a country was torn apart,” she said. “There was violence for over three months.”

During this violent period and since Getry has been at the center of an effort by Quakers and the wider Alternatives to Violence (AVP) Project to help people heal from trauma, restore communities, mediate conflict, and build a durable peace. She spoke about her part in providing humanitarian and medical relief for those forced to flee their homes; trauma relief for people on all sides of the conflict; and mediation and reconciliation efforts. She has coordinated AVP workshops that reach across the divides of tribe and ethnicity.

The mother of a four-year-old daughter, Denah Khasiala, Getry is a member of Kakamega Yearly Meeting in Western Province, Kenya. As the Program Coordinator of Friends in peace and Community Development, she is in charge of organizing and coordinating AVP Healing and Rebuilding our Communities workshops. She has coordinated more than 200 such workshops and also coordinates summer workcamps at the Peace Center facilitated by the Africa Great Lakes Initiatives of Friends Peace Teams. Getry has also volunteered with the Uzima Foundation documenting and training youth about reproductive health and gender-based violence.

The formation of a coalition government and work to revise the constitution has brought stability to the country and peaceworkers are focusing on reconciliation and training on how to resolve conflict without violence. The focus is on a 2012 election that she hopes will be “an example to other nations.”

Rebuilding trust is a hard road, she said. “It’s about forgiveness and this is a difficult road.”