From March 21st to March 24th CPI Kenya has carried out an Intercommunity Children’s Peace Camp in Isiolo County, involving the Turkana and Borana communities through the participation of the children from Daaba and Gotu Primary Schools. Gianmarco Bernabei has written about it in his blog article below
Written by: Gianmarco Bernabei
I never saw other Kenyan landscapes and contexts different from the slums, Nairobi and its surroundings, or touristic spots such as Nakuru and Naivasha. For the very first time, I get on a Land Cruiser towards Isiolo County. Francis, our driver and friend, is going to drive us towards the first Intercommunity Children’s Peace Camp of my life. While travelling, the view changes many times: from Rongai to Nairobi, from the super highway to the green countryside, up to the Isiolo’s dry, arid but windy heat.
My brain suddenly perceives the change: no more dense multitudes of metal sheets roofs but a horizon made of mountains and new colours; no more narrow spaces between housings but many acacia trees, bushes and never-ending rough roads; no more large groups of shops but just a few of them, reduced to the fundamental categories. And then camels, goats, heifers and multi-coloured birds. Loner and brave pastors. This is going to be the background of our Peace Camp, while the children from Daaba and Gotu Primary Schools are the main characters (representing the communities of Turkana and Borana).
It is Thursday and before reaching Daaba’s Primary School, which will host the whole Peace Camp, I decided to go with Francis heading Gotu. Our task, along with another driver, is to pick 34 children up (plus two teachers) that makes part of the program and then return to Daaba by the evening time. 60 kilometres of “non-road”, unscripted routes, paths out of nowhere, blazing sun and the feeling of the desolation of these places, almost forgotten.
It was a really long journey: on the way back we have loaded 31 matrasses, carrying 34 children with their bags and full of determination in cutting every single stinging branch obstructing our road.
It is evening and we are finally in Daaba. The children are literally over-excited. In the westernized world where I come from, I would have witnessed a scene of initial embarrassment, probably silence, followed by some shy greeting and few words came out by chance. They are already singing and dancing, they are happy, just like they knew each other since ever.
The following day the Peace Camp begins. From the first day to the last one, it was truly successful: many games, activities, prayers from different religions, shared meals, exchanges of experiences and daily life.
Watching friendships growing up from the beginning just as fruits on a tree was pretty touching. Realizing these children have to face the same examinations of those in Nairobi, a little bit more frustrating. Girls are exuberant and responsible, just like young women. Boys are vivacious and extroverted, but something is needed they are ready to help out. My mind travels to images of symbiosis between these two communities. I imagine how they could strengthen each other. But this might be a starting point, the goal of the Peace Camp is clear to everyone.
The evening is my favourite time. Millions of stars, the mother moon, fresh wind, no lights around, the children singing, belly full and legs tired. I close my eyes and I don’t know where I am. I don’t think that these places and people have been forgotten by God. Maybe He has just set aside a special patch of land, away from the chaotic life in town, waiting for them to meet or for somebody to guide them towards the right way. Children are our future and the purity of these strong bonds shows us how worth it is to believe in them, constantly and blindly.
Goodbye Isiolo, may you take care of these beautiful souls and give them a peaceful growth, in contact with their Mother Land and with the new ideals that are going to bloom starting from this new experience.