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Towards Better Indo-Pak Relations
Sep 10-16 2011
Nairobi, Kenya

 

Toward Better Indo-Pak Relations
WCR AND ICP WOMEN’S EXPOSURE VISIT TO NAIROBI, KENYA,
10th-16th SEPTEMBER 2011

REPORT


 

An interfaith delegation of 14 women from Interfaith Coalition for Peace-India (ICP) and World Council of Religions - Pakistan (WCR) representing Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities from India and Pakistan, led by Rev Packiam Samuel (ICP) and Qari Roohullah Madani (WCR) traveled to Kenya for an exposure visit to meet the local women’s groups involved in conflict resolution and peace building.

The program, supported and organized by Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) was aimed at introducing the women to the concept of Peace Building in general and for sharing the experiences of faith communities engaged in peace building in Kenya with a particular focus on the role of women in resolving conflict and restoration of peace.

This visit also provided opportunities for the two delegations from India

and Pakistan to share with each other information about the activities of ICP and WCR and their experiences of peace building in their respective countries. And based on their experience of Kenya, to develop recommendations on how women representing faith communities could be engaged in peace building in general and in India and Pakistan in particular.
 
 
The two delegations were also expected to develop recommendations on how ICP and WCR could contribute towards the normalization process between Pakistan and India in general, and in what ways women in particular could participate and contribute to the process of normalization of relationship between these two countries.
 
The venue of the meeting was the Windsor Hotel situated on the outskirts of Nairobi.
 
Day 1 - September 11, 2011: 
The first working session involved introducing the members of the delegation from ICP and WCR to each other. The ICP team greeted their counterparts from WCR in the Indian tradition by gifting to them ‘Anga-vastrams’ – specially designed handwoven cotton scarves. This gesture was very much appreciated by the members of WCR.
 
This was followed by a workshop on Peace Building and peace work in Kenya by Dr Agnes Abuom who has a long experience in working with the faith communities in peace building in East Africa and Kenya. She spoke to the delegation about “The role of civil society in peace building and women participation”. Dr Abuom gave a brief Training on Peace Building and introduced the participants to the UN Resolution 1325 on women’s participation in Peace Building.

     

    

Day 2 – September 12, 2011: 
On the second day the participants got an opportunity to visit a few Kenyan organizations involved in peace building. The first visit was to the office of the African Council for Religious Leaders (ACRL) which is the largest and most representative multi-religious platform in Africa with Truly Multi-Religious identity, Representative Multi-Religious Structures and Multi-religious Cooperation at Multiple levels. The mission of this interfaith structure which is led by Dr Mustafa Ali, is to mobilize African religious communities and their leaders to build peaceful, just and harmonious societies in common action. The visiting delegation got an opportunity to meet with regional body and the Kenyan chapter and to hear about their involvement in peace building in East Africa and Kenya. The delegation also met with the Women’s wing of ACRL.
 
For the next exposure visits, the participants were divided into two groups. One group interacted with the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya Justice and Peace Commission (AOSK-JP) that is missioned to create awareness of the dignity of the human person, to promote a safe and healthy environment, to uphold Human Rights and Freedoms and to encourage the exercise of personal responsibility in order to bring about a more just an peaceful society.

The other group met with two organizations known as PACT KENYA and COPA-K. PACT KENYA builds the capacity of local people, organizations, networks and coalitions working in one or more of 4 strategic platforms that PACT KENYA believes are crucial to reducing poverty and to attaining sustainable development in Kenya. These platforms are in Democracy and Governance, Conflict and Peace, Environment and Natural Resource Management and in Women’s Empowerment.
 
COPA-K is a professional body. It is an association of social development workers whose main concern is community organizing as a key to genuine people’s empowerment, transformation and sustained development.
 
At the end of the day, the participants got a chance to make a short trip to the Nairobi Safari Walk.
 
Day 3 – September 13, 2011: 
The day began with reflections and review of the visits of the previous day followed by a workshop conducted by Mr Arne Saeveras, Advisor from NCA on the theme of Conflict. The participants from WCR and ICP were then asked to work in their country groups to list some of the conflicts in their respective countries and to make recommendations about the peace building activities and interventions that WCR and ICP could undertake to address these conflicts. They further discussed about the role of women in interfaith peace building with special reference to the constraints that prevent women in playing an active role in such efforts. Also how WCR and ICP could contribute to the normalization process between the two countries.
In the later part of the day, the delegates visited the office of Nairobi Peace Initiative-Africa (NPI). This is a peace organization whose mission is to serve as a resource and facilitator in the transformation of conflicts and the work of Peace building in Africa. Its strategies include direct initiation of processes, capacity building and accompaniment of other organizations, individuals, communities and processes of peace building. NPI-Africa also creates spaces for reflection, documentation an dissemination of ideas, lessons and issues emerging from conflict scenarios and peace building practice.
 
Day 4, September 14, 2011: 
The entire day was devoted to a field trip to Nakuru, a rural area about two hours’ drive from Nairobi. This field visit was facilitated by the National Council of Churches in Kenya (NCCK), the national network organization for all the Protestant Churches in Kenya. During this visit the delegates got an opportunity to meet with the local women representing the faith communities who have been engaged in community level peace building. It was a very emotionally charged meeting as the women despite the utter poverty and lack of civic amenities in their neighborhood, were full of enthusiasm and positive energy. The danced and sang for the delegates and shared their experiences of how most of the widows present there lost the men in their families in the conflict between the groups fighting with each other. Yet they did not loose hope and women from across the conflicting groups reached out to each other for trauma healing, listening to each other’s stories of pain and suffering and then drawing strength from one other. They shared their stories of how they managed to rebuild their strengths and lives by cooperating with each other by forming self-help groups for income generation. They were encouraged to work harder for the future of their children and to keep hope alive by looking at the other women in the group.
 
This was indeed a living example of how women can resolve conflict and usher in peace so that their children could have a better future.
 
Day 5, September 15, 2011: 
The first part of the day was spent in WCR and ICP working in country groups to plan a future course of action. The groups were asked to make a list of activities of peace building for the next 1-3 years that WCR and ICP could take up in their respective countries and how the group could participate in these activities as women. Also the groups were encouraged to make recommendations about what activities could be undertaken as a follow-up of the meeting in Nairobi, especially in view of normalization of the relationship between the two countries.
 
At the end of the meeting, the delegates from WCR and ICP came up with a joint statement that affirmed that this meeting in Nairobi was a very good opportunity provided by NCA to bring the women’s groups from India and Pakistan closer to each other. The delegates resolved to share their experiences with other women and different organizations after returning to their countries. They further resolved to commit themselves to engage in activities that would bring the people of both the nations closer.
Inspired by this visit and working sessions of WCR and ICP women’s groups mutually resolved to undertake the following to contribute to the normalization process between Pakistan and India :
i) Implement mutual visits by ICP & WCR delegations to participate in various interfaith peace building programs.
ii) Conduct advocacy work of commonly held issues at different levels.
iii) Continue the cooperation between the WCR & ICP women’s groups on peace building by holding a joint meeting at least once a year and by establishing a joint working group.
 
Day 6, September 2011: 
Departure after the closing ceremony.
 
This Exposure visit to Nairobi was a great learning experience for all the participants who enjoyed the interfaith journey immensely. During the free time the women had a chance for personal sharing and there was a lot of laughter, joy and fun that they all enjoyed. Each evening was dedicated for personal sharing and reflections of the day where one person spoke on the behalf of all the participants. All the participants got a chance to speak and to share their innermost thoughts with every one and irrespective of the barriers of faiths, ages and professions, at the end of the program an interfaith sisterhood emerged that resolved to work together for Peace Building.

   

  

      

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