Peace Education Training in Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement

Amala’s Peace Education Training Project began in April 2022 in Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement in Kenya, following the receipt of a grant from The Edith M Ellis 1985 Charitable Trust in February 2022.

The project aimed to reach 50 young refugees through peace education training, and Amala advertised the opportunity widely within the refugee community in the Kalobeyei Settlement.

An overwhelming number of 223 applications were received for the training which demonstrated both the need and demand for this type of programme within the community.  To increase their impact and reach more students, a total of 105 students were admitted to the programme, more than double the initial aim. Yet it is only 1% of the population of young people in Kalobeyei whose everyday lives are affected by violence and conflict. To ensure quality education, the students were split into three classes, and each class had two facilitators.

The first class ran from April to June 2022 and the last two classes began in late July and lessons concluded in October 2022. In the first half of the training, students explored topics such as identity, building community in the classroom and what it means to them personally to be a peace-builder. They also looked at concepts such as ‘positive peace’ and ‘negative peace’, and how barriers to peace can be overcome. Moreover, they put their learning into practice by identifying examples of violence in their communities and identifying ways to enact positive change. One student used themselves as an example and how a mind-shift change can be a powerful catalyst for positive change within both the individual and the community. The student said: “I was so violent because I never allowed anyone who wronged me to explain himself or herself but since I joined Peacebuilding education training at Kalobeyei Initiative (KI4BLI) I have solved two conflict cases successfully in my neighbourhood. I feel like I am now a good leader ”.

In the second half of the training, students focused on different ways of understanding serious disagreements or violence and various ways to review the actors and causes of such conflicts. To enhance their understanding of both the reasons for conflict as well as practical ways of solving them, students used community engagement forums and organising cultural events such as a talent competition as a medium to solve inter-tribal violence.

Finally, students worked on a project in which they had to use the tools and ideas discussed throughout the course, choose an actual ongoing conflict that they identified in one of the
communities that they are members of, and come up with a plan on how to resolve it. During the graduation ceremony, they had the opportunity to present their plan to peers as well as a
few members of the community that the facilitators invited.

Here are examples of two of the student projects:

Youth empowerment: This is a project by James and Aneya, who are both 21 years old and from South Sudan. The purpose of this project is to empower youth with the knowledge that makes them discover various opportunities and not engage in harmful activities such as drug abuse which was identified by the students as one of the root causes of violence in the camp.

Peer counselling: This is a project by South Sudanese students Aneta and Boiki who are aged 19 and 18 years respectively. The purpose of this project is to reduce mental illness and suicide in the community caused by conflicts and trauma. The students will set up stress management and basic counselling sessions in the community. They will also conduct community outreach on mental health and psychological first aid.

The impact goals of this project were to enable participants to improve their own lives, and the lives of others and drive wider, systemic change to create sustainable peace. There has been a magnificent transformation in the students who have participated in this course. For example, one of the student’s parents said “My son is no longer arrested by the police because of drug abuse since he started coming here, I came to say thanks for changing him.”

According to the facilitators who were trained by Amala to run the training, the student’s understanding of different nationalities and tribes has changed. They mentioned that students from different backgrounds now collaborate positively with each other and many have taken on leadership roles within the community and now lead peace and conflict resolution processes.

Additionally, twelve of the students have also secured incentive jobs with international aid organisations in Kalobeyei and four have been accepted to continue their secondary education studies through the Amala High School Diploma Programme. The Kalobeyei Settlement community members have expressed their appreciation for the course as they have observed positive change driven by the students. Desire, one of the community leaders in Kalobeyei, expressed this in her speech at the graduation ceremony where she said: “The Peace Education programme being studied at the Kalobeyei Initiative (KI4BLi) is making positive changes in the community as many youths are now enrolled at school and reduce early pregnancies, drug abuse and violence in the community.”

Amala thanks The Edith M Ellis 1985 Charitable Trust for investing in improving the lives of young refugees in Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement and promoting sustainable peace in the
community and the world at large.