AGLI Releases Malesi Kinaro for Peace Building in
At the beginning
of the conflict in Burundi in October, 1993 and the Rwandan genocide
in April, 1994, Malesi Kinaro was General Secretary
for the Friends World Committee for Consultation—Africa Section
(FWCC-AS). She visited both Burundi and Rwanda a number of times becoming
a rare Kenyan who saw and understood the horror of those times. Unlike
many Kenyans who thought that Kenya was an “island of calm” in
the region, Malesi realized that Kenya could undergo the same types of
ethnic conflicts. When AGLI proposed introducing the Alternatives to
Violence Project (AVP) in Kenya, Malesi was one of the first to see the
real need for the program.
After Malesi left FWCC-AS she founded two organizations. Before and
during the 1992 Kenya elections, there had been substantial violence
in the Rift Valley province with perhaps 1000 people killed and hundreds
of thousands displaced. Malesi and her husband, John, were among those
displaced as they had purchased a small farm near Turbo in the Rift Valley.
Their house was destroyed, their animals killed, and crops looted. This
led Malesi to spearhead the founding of Friends for Peace and Community
Development (FPCD) in 1994 to work on the issues that underlay the violence
at that time. FPCD became the AGLI partner in western Kenya for the introduction
same time, the UZIMA (Wellness) Foundation was started by Miriam (Malesi’s sister) and Humphreys Were which focused on empowering
Kenyan youth to live beneficial, constructive lives. Malesi was appointed
the first Director “to put the dream into concrete programs.” Over
the years, the UZIMA Foundation has reached at least 20,000 youth. In
the last two years as part of its Peace, Justice and Leadership program,
she has introduced the UZIMA youth to AVP and has developed a number
of youth AVP facilitators.
Malesi made a speaking tour of the United States where she raised sufficient
to buy a plot of land and with the help of AGLI
workcamps has now turned it into the Friends Peace Center—Lubao.
For over ten years Malesi and her family had not returnd to their farm.
Recently they began cultivating it again. In the violence this year,
she lost her house, maize store, toilet, the fence that had just been
replaced, and the trees that had survived the previous crisis.
violence struck Kenya on December 30, 2007, many peacemakers in Kenya
and paralyzed. Malesi, on the other hand, was visiting
the displaced Kikuyu in the camps in Kakamega within two days. She implemented
the idea of having peace T-shirts with “Friends for” on the
front and “Peace” on the back. She quickly arranged a number
of listening sessions for youth, UZIMA foundation employees, the staff
at Eldoret prison, and elsewhere. She helped develop a one-day listening
program for the Kisumu and later the Nairobi staff of the US Center for
Disease Control. Forty-two sessions were held in Kisumu for 500 staff
and three in Nairobi for 60 staff. She helped support the Peace Dialogues
described on page 5.
now laying down the responsibilities as Director of UZIMA. Since the
the ones who participated in the violence after
the election and with AGLI’s current focus on conducting AVP with
youth, the goals of these two organizations have become very similar.
Malesi leadership and creativity in this time of crisis in Kenya, the
Group of the African Great Lakes Initiative decided
it was appropriate for Malesi Kinaro to become a released Friend. This
concept had not been introduced among Quakers in Kenya previously, but
it clearly seemed to fit this situation. Malesi has been released to
pursue her peace making activities as she feels called to do for the
2008 calendar year. A Support Committee in Kakamega has been appointed
to help her with her activities. If you would like to support her release,
please mark the memo line of your check “Malesi Kinaro’s