Now that they temporarily cannot continue their in-person trustbuilding work, what do their online activities look like? An interfaith prayer and sharing between Muslim women are some of the online activities the Kenyan trustbuilding team has organized due to COVID-19.
Interfaith prayer and sharing
A Zoom meeting with 16 participants from Mombasa took place 16 April. It was an open session in which the participants shared stories about their situations. The participants, each of different religious backgrounds, held an interfaith prayer in which they prayed for their families, good governance, the sick and the future of humanity.
The team have organized a sharing session between Amina Khalid and Muslim female students of Somali background who are studying at Garissa University. Amina, Project Manager of Initiatives of Change's Sustainable Communities Program in the United Kingdom, shared the story of her journey from Somalia to the UK. Project Manager Dan Mugera had asked her to mentor the girls, because they are shy, and did not immediately feel comfortable sharing their stories. With Amina sharing hers story, the young women began to open up more. Amina also shared her experiences regarding the stigma and racism she faced when coming to the UK, and how she has navigated those challenges. She shared that IofC has helped her to take responsibility and become a changemaker, by making changes in her own life first and foremost.
Sharing from the heart
As Amina pointed out, the language of the heart makes it so that we can speak with people of a different race or religion. Balqesa shared about the challenges she encountered because of negative cultural practices that have been misinterpreted and made to look like religious beliefs. This misinterpretation subjected her to harsh judgment. She said that she used to focus on surviving, instead of thriving.
One of the students, Hafsa, also mentioned that ‘culture has at times been merged with religion, which makes things difficult.’ She experiences this at the University as well, and she told the group that gender discrimination is widespread. She believes that because she is a woman, she is seen as unqualified to take on a leadership position.
The other female students shared their stories with Amina and the group. Aisha, who was brought up in other parts of Kenya said that going to Garissa was a different experience for her, as some people would consider it strange that she interacts with people of other religions. Zalikha shared that one of the things she’s experienced is extreme judgment, after interacting with non-Muslims. Mumbi shared that she faces the same difficulties, but also told the group about how the values of IofC have helped her to have better interactions with people of different faiths, without judgement and with absolute love.
Helping Amina to mentor these young women is Balqesa Abdi, who works closely with the project in Kenya. She is a peace ambassador, plus a youth & women empowerment expert and trainer. Amina and Balqesa will continue to mentor the young Somali students, with the aim of the women mentoring girls back in their own communities as well.