Highlights from the URI Youth Training

24 September 2010, 3:50 PM

Dear All,

The young people from the steering committee will be giving you a comprehensive report on the event of the youth training here.  However, I wanted to shared with you a few things from my perspective of how the days were.

We had a total of about 30 young people in attendance with representation from Somalia, Kenya, UK and Uganda.  We really had a good time during this training because of the way it was segmented.  There was alot of interaction in small groups, humorous energizers, and serious discussions and presentations by youths and the different partners. Apologies from Sarah Talcot Blair and Kiran were also shared and noted.

We had interfaith prayers and during my welcome remarks and sharing on the local and global URI work and existence, I also shared the global wishes from everybody for a successful function. We later had very informative presentation from Rev. Patrick from the MI project. From this training we realized that peace work is really a process that takes time and patience and that it requires alot of creativity. Respect for one another in the community you are serving and working with leaders in this process is also a key thing.

Mathew led the "world cafe" discussions which were conducted in groups.  These were structured around our faith values, practices, and wisdom from the different faith traditions, indigenous traditions and spiritual expressions. These discussions were a clear emphasis of principle 4 of deepening each one of us in our traditions. One wouldn’t be relevant in this process if they didn’t know or take time to know something about their faith. We were challenged to give out the positive and negative side of what we felt about our faith basing on facts from own tradition.  The negative was a challenge to many as expected and there were many positives.  Nonetheless some of the negative practices that came out from some groups were: Religious extremism, misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures by some Religious Leaders, Male dominance in some faith groups, and stringent barriers for non participation of the "non believers" of a certain faith yet most religious traditions speak of love. Mathew also conducted the community mapping session which challenged the young people to look at their surroundings identifying those issues and later devising means for a personal, group or organizational intervention. This exercise made the youths look at issues differently because it meant that they are fully involved in the design and implementation for a problem to be addressed. 

Mathew and Hannington also shared about the Young Leaders Program in detail giving its history and current activities and later called on youths to get involved further. Youths were pleased with the program saying that this is quite very practical for them and provided a connecting mechanism for sharing and learning on a global level.

The Youth Ambassadors Aynte from Somalia and Nyambura also presented their projects. Anyte and Nyambura intend to work on building broken relationships among the people in the region especially after the continuous Al Shabab threats and killings.  Nyambura conducted a blood drive. This drive helped her to foster relations with different individuals and organizations as most contributions came from these categories. Hannington shared on the steps for non violent communication and Ayinte shared on Al Shabab conflict, history and effects and both presentations stimulated a number of discussions.

I also requested a friend of mine Hajat Nageeba from the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council who coordinates the women’s desk to come and present something on Islam and tolerance. This was so because almost all the Al Shabab suspects in the July 11thcity bombings in Kampala were youths and yet our theme for this year was Youth Peace and Development.  I wanted her to present a harmonized view in this regard. The young people further asked questions more so the Muslim youths and how sometimes they feel discriminated against because of their faith and yet they have no extremist tendencies.  An example was one youth Mohamed from Mirembe Kawomera CC who had recommended several youths to travel abroad but when he tried to go himself one day with those he had recommended he was denied.  Hajat Nageeba however, advised the youths that it is not good to carry on with such grudges.  The best way to iron out such a situation is to request for audience with the relevant authorities in the offices and have a chat with one of them.  Islam doesn’t allow mistreating others or even killing them however, Islam calls for defending those who may be oppressed and their rights denied of.

We had a key note address from Mr. Joseph Agula from the Prime Ministers Office and he and those he came with were impressed with our unique and strong strategy for peace building of which I had informed them that we do emphasize religious values in our diversity for promoting peace including the use of the Golden Rule. He said that religion and faith has a way of humbling and guiding people thereby bringing out the goodness in them. This was taken to be a good strategy for promoting peace alongside other interventions from other civil society organizations. He further said that most conflicts in the region had been rooted from religious differences but also some had used religion to champion wars because of the allegiance that people have to their faith.  He also informed the youths that a National Peace Policy shall be presented next year to Parliament.

We had entertainment from the Bahai Choir and the youths from Twekolere Women Development Association CC. Sunday was also a day for the youths from outside Uganda to visit some nearby sites both religious and recreational.

In his concluding remarks, Bishop Ocholla called on the youths to take charge of events.  He said that youths can make change because they are the majority.  He also said youths should not dwell much on the past mistakes of their elders but simply look at those mistakes as learning lessons for building a better future. He later handed out certificates to each youth participant and we concluded with interfaith prayers.

I take this opportunity to thank the young people here who worked tirelessly to accomplish this event mainly Hannington and Paul. Thank you for your voluntary spirit.

Thank you all for your prayers.

In peace,