It has been 5 days…
So again, what is the Interfaith Experience?
The Interfaith Experience a collaboration of Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, Kenya Community Support Centre and Mensen met een Missie, which had taken weeks to plan for had come to an end.
An experiential program that had involved peace-builders from Tana River County they had integrated their personal reflection and awareness and were ready to embrace interfaith peace-building, in their communities.
The five-day Experience had different Religious Leaders – clergy, women and youth represented and was unlike normal workshops or conferences but a process of reflection by the participants about their lives, faith and community.
Through the five days, the participants had build trust with each other; visited each other places of worship; asked questions about each other’s faiths; talked about conflicts in their communities, homes and their lives; and managed to reflect and write down their next steps after the Interfaith Experience.
In the five days, the participants had visited a church, the mosque, Vasco da Gama and the oldest chapel in East Africa in Malindi.
They had reflected who they are, what defines them and what qualities they had as children but had lost as adults and what they needed to work on to get back these qualities.
They had designed and created ‘talking stick’s that permitted them to speak, they had drawn their partners and shared who they were through ‘if you really knew me’, they had talked about their faith, asked about each other’s faith, and talked about conflicts in Tana River County.
They had sat around in a ‘Wisdom circle’ – round a bonfire and talked about their roots, they had woken up at 6 am to have a quiet meditation – ‘Vision Quest’ – before the day started. They had drawn what was their next steps were after the Experience and finally earned their certificates.
And I couldn’t help but ask just as a few of the participants what they had to say about the experience?
“Matarajio yangu nikitoka nyumbani ilikuwa nitakuja kubambana na mjadala…”
“Matarajio yangu nikitoka nyumbani ilikuwa nitakuja kubambana na mjadala wa mgogoro kati ya dini mbili, lakini nimejifunza jinsi ya kuleta watu wa dini ya Uisalmu na Ukristo pamoja, pia jinsi ya kusuluhisha vita na kudumisha amani katika jamii yangu.” (My expectation when leaving home as I was coming to just debate over the conflicts between the two religions, but I have learned how to bring the people of Islam and Christianity together, as well as how to handle clashes and maintain peace in my community). –Sheikh Barisa Said Wale
“From this experience, I will educate my community on trust-building…”
“From this experience, I will educate my community on trust-building. I will also educate women back in Tana River and create small youth groups in schools and the community then take them through ‘The Interfaith Experience’. After the ‘Market Place’ experience, I am determined to fight for children’s rights for we need to protect the rights of our children for they have their dreams and ambitions. Therefore let us stop early marriages and advocate against this vice among our communities!” Hagana Chagasa, Women Leader
“I feel privileged to be part of the leaders selected…”
“I feel privileged to be part of the leaders selected to represent Tana River County in ‘The Interfaith Experience’. It was more than a workshop, I was able to internalise and reflect through the process and from here I can be able to be an ambassador of peace in our community. Thanks to ‘The Interfaith Experience’ during the ‘Ask me Anything’ I was able to better understand the ‘other’ faiths doctrine and teachings.” – Rev Daniel Nzomo Masavi, Garsen JCC Church
“As a youth, I feel privileged to have participated…
“As a youth, I feel privileged to have participated and taken part in this workshop because it has given me the concept of understanding and being informed more about the interfaith communities and how we can advocate for peace in our communities thus be able to live in unity and promote a peaceful co-existence in the society.” – Claudia Douglas, Tana River Youth Leader
Till the next Experience…
By Mary Ndulili