Letter from Peace Initiative in Baragoi, Kenya


This letter was sent by Fr. Daniel Lorunguiya, a Kenyan Consolata missionary who works in the DRC. Here he writes about a peace initiative begun by the women of Baragoi, Kenya where violence and banditry have disrupted lives for the past generation. Daniel and I worked together in Kenya in 2005/06.

“Receive my greetings and best wishes from far Kenya. I would like to thank you and your colleagues of PASOS PEACE MUSEUM for the good initiatives of making the voice of the voiceless heard. Without peace there will be no understanding, tranquility, and happiness “It is always hard to construct a house but very easy to demolish it.”

I am in Baragoi in the Northern part of Kenya. Being a war zone, Baragoi has some similarities with Democratic Republic of Congo where I have a mission. The difference is that in Baragoi there are no mineral resources like in Congo. Ever since 1996, cattle rustling between the Samburu, Turkana and the Pokot tribes have affected the Baragoi area. This has caused a lot of suffering among the people: deaths, increased number of orphans children, poverty, rise in school dropouts, increased number of girl mothers, increased number of displaced people and spread of contagious diseases due to overcrowding of people in one area.

Due to this experience women were the first to take the initiative, also being non-partisans in cattle rustling and being the first to feel the pinch of carrying the burden of the family at large. It is true as this proverb states that, “He or she who knows the pain of a child is the mother.” One beautiful morning in November 2011, these lovely mothers sat down under a cassia tree to reason a way forward. It was in that day that “BARAGOI WOMEN OF PEACE, RECONCILIATION AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION” was formed; the group comprises women from different tribes. They already are registered with the Kenyan ministry of culture and social services. The group has engaged itself in so many activities as follows.

  •     Creating awareness on how women can bring peace in the District at large
  • Reconciling the fighting tribes through organized home and communities visits
  • Targeting the youth: recognizing that idleness promotes cattle rustling, they linked the youth with developmental organizations where that connect the youth with income generating activities.
  • Encourage different programs that can mix women and the youth from different tribes
  • Starting evening school programs in different villages around Baragoi such as: Ngilai, Bendera, Nalingangor, Allamano, Nachola and Logetei. The majority of the youths in these villages are herders, who go every day to look for pastures and water for their animals: goats, camels, sheep, donkeys and cows. In the evening the youth go to a nearby primary school where volunteer students teach them. All these groups do meet frequently in the parish hall of Baragoi Catholic Church, to do evaluations and seminars concerning peace and reconciliation, organized by the women, the Church and government leaders
  • Women and youth carry out 5 projects: buying and selling of animal hides; bread baking; making uniforms for school children; selling well water for drinking and agriculture; offering micro-credits to back village projects

Positive result of the project:

Although there are so many difficulties to reach all the villages due to lack of funds. The project has shown positive result in Baragoi. Cattle raiding has reduced. It is true as they say, “Idleness is the workshop of the devil.” In Baragoi, where a majority of the youth are now very busy with their small projects, they no longer think of cattle raiding as before. Well-known cattle rustlers are now transformed into good promoters of peace, reconciliation and development in the area. There is still a lot to be done in order for peace and reconciliation to prevail in Baragoi area, but the initiatives are already there.”————Fr. Daniel Lorunguiya

By William Repicci

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