13 December 2012

Rwanda: Children and Youth Meet to Discuss Peace in Region

Peace means farewell to poverty and is a way to development, said, Alfred Karekezi, analyst in gender and family at the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion. He said this during the closure of the four day World Vision's Empowering Children as Peacebuilders (ECaP) learning and networking forum yesterday where he was the guest on honor.

Mr Karekezi said, "It's good to have children participate in such activities because it's them who can easily be manipulated to engage in violence."

The forum that was organized under the theme Our peace in diversity, give peace and get peace, brought together 24 children and 15 adults from three East African countries to discuss how the region can live in harmony despite their differences.

Citing Rwanda as an example, Karekezi said that as a country, they have learnt to treasure peace because of its background in regard to the 1994 genocide.

"We have learnt so many lessons from the past and it would be great to have peace for all of us." He said. "I hope the children that have attended this forum will be like a lamb and let light shine in their respective communities."

Mr George Wamushiyi, director, Finance and support services, World Vision, said the use of the youth to promote peace in the region is a good idea because they are the future generation. They raise awareness to transform leading to development.

He argued that conflicts can develop from anything beyond language. Thus, he applauded the participants for looking at other factors that can lead to conflicts like stereotypes, discrimination and intolerance.

"Bringing them (young people) together enhances their attitude and also learn from each other," he said.

The forum is an annual event, which was first held last year in Nairobi, Kenya and five countries; Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan participated. This time around only three countries participated.

"We had scheduled this forum to take place in August but because of the ebola break out, we pushed it to December. Unfortunately, it collided with the other countries calendars where some students are doing their exams," Vat Kamatsiko, regional peace building advisor, World Vision East Africa, explained.

The forum rotates in countries depending on the participants' choice. Kamatsiko, said since this is the children's and youths' program, they are given a chance to choose where they want to hold the next one.

She said the discussion of peace doesn't stop at the forums. The participants have to go ahead and promote peace in their communities. In the period before the next forum, they share ideas among themselves on what they are doing through journals.

At the forum, the journal for children titled Journalling for Peace: Children's Energetic Voices on Peace Conflict and Peacebuilding was launched.

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