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Editorial Comment

Why We Should “Love Thy Neighbor”
By Angela Forcier

Why I Do What I Do: Life in Bududa, Uganda
By Barbara Wybar

HROC and the Batwa Ethnic Group in Rwanda
By Theoneste Bizimana

Living Abundantly
By Deborah Dakin

A Bumpy Road to Mediation By George Brose

Applying These Teachings: Testimonies from Congo
By Zawadi Nikuze

By David Zarembka

Reaching a Common Reconciliation
By Adrien Niyongabo

Welcome Back
By Dorcas Nyambura



By Dorcas Nyambura, Kenyan HROC facilitator

Supported by Chace Funds of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, the Healing and Rebuilding Our Community(HROC) program in Kenya has conduced 25 workshops. One of these was in a community called Majitamu (meaning “sweet water”). This area is in the middle of the Rift Valley where local Kalenjin and Masai people and the Kikuyu people who had moved into area had severe conflict, with the Kikuyu fleeing during the unrest. This is a prime example of concrete (or at least “muddy”) effectiveness of a workshop as the HROC participants agreed to rebuild three houses that had been destroyed during the conflict so that the Kikuyu could move back into the community.

This mini work camp was decided upon during the HROC basic workshop that was held in the area on 10-12 August 2009. On the first day of the workshop, most of the participants from the Kalenjin community gave their expectation was to have all their neighbors who had run away during the post elections violence return home. They stated they were ready to welcome them back. On the last day after Mr. Francis, a Masai man, stood up and said that they are ready to welcome all who had fled the area. He was very remorseful and he reminiscenced about the good neighbors they had and how they lived in peace with one another. He also said that the area had never had any tribal conflict even when other areas in the country experienced the same during earlier elections. He appealed to members of his community not to ever do what they did again. Then, Mrs. Lucy Njambi, a Kikuyu, who fled from the area to the Internally Displaced Persons camp, stood up and said, “I am willing to come back, but I have no where to come back to. My house was burnt and all my property stolen.” There was a heated debate and then people began to pledge what materials they could give in the shortest possible time. They were able to get iron sheets, posts, and nails to build three small mud and wattle houses. August 22nd was the date set for when they will all come together and help to rebuild Jambi’s house and two others. On this day I was there to help out and see if they were going to live up to their word. When I got there at the time they had agreed upon, I was shocked to see all the three houses—Jambi’s and two others--standing waiting to be bomwad, (to put mud in the walls). They had already fixed the posts and the iron sheets to all the three houses.

The day that everyone had waited for had finally arrived and people arrived in Majitamu in time to start the day’s work. I had heard that the men had come very early. Almost all the participants in our last HROC workshop were present and those who could not make it sent their spouses or children. All tribes were represented.

(Author, Dorcas Nyambura [on the right] with Lucy Njambi, in a red head scarf). We are very busy putting mud on the walls. This was my first experience in building a house, let alone put mud on the wall of any house. The participants were very happy to see me back so soon and helping them in rebuilding their neighbors’ house.




Francis, the Rongai contact person, was there too to help out in the community. In this photo, Francis is with Kalenjin women, who were very active the whole day.




The youth mix water and soil to make the mud mixture that is used to build the walls around the houses.




“This was my best photo,” states Dorcas. “It shows how the people who were enemies could come together and help.” In the photo are Mr Maina, on the right, and Mr Vincent, on the left. They are Kikuyu and Kalenjin respectively. “The people were of opinion they be the ones to start mixing the mud because they did a superb work as a team. They were working together throughout the day.”




Men at work




“The day could not be over without me (in white t-shit and a cap) trying my hand in mixing the mud.”




After a whole day of work every one was happy about how the day has been. In this photo was one of the completed houses. It was decided that after some days they will come and smooth the walls of the house ready to welcome the family back. After finishing the work we were given lunch and tea. During the meal Njambi was very happy and could not stop saying thank you to everyone. She said, “I first thank Mr. Francis for inviting me to the HROC workshop. It has made me realize regardless of what happened, I still have good neighbors who want me back. My husband didn’t believe that this house will be made for me by my neighbors, but I now know he is very happy.” The day was great for me because I was able to witness great love between neighbors. They showed real commitment and said it was a sign of good relations returning in their community.