Sports leagues in Kenya facilitate
World Vision begins peacebuilding; activities planned
to encourage forgiveness, healing
Nairobi, Kenya, February 12, 2008
—As part of its long-term plan for peacebuilding and reconciliation in Kenya, Christian aid agency World Vision is establishing sports leagues to help address deep-rooted ethnic issues that have contributed to violence in the country for more than a month.
"Humanitarian and development agencies now need to focus on the issues that have divided this country over the years," said World Vision's emergency response communicator in Kenya, Patterson Siema. "One month without peace has pushed the country back years on the development track."
One way World Vision will provide social and psychological support to Kenyans affected by the recent violence is by organizing sports leagues. Designed to help heal deep community and ethnic divisions, these sports leagues will encourage reconciliation and promote tribal welfare.
"Right now, children are hearing messages of division and conflict, and we fear seeds of discord are being planted," Siema said. "These leagues will allow tribes to come together and find common ground by participating in organized sports." Music, arts and writing programs that promote messages of peace will also be developed and encouraged for those in displacement camps and local communities.
Since December 27, more than 300,000 people have been displaced and 1,000 people killed. World Vision has been responding to the immediate needs of the displaced in Nairobi, the Rift Valley, as well as the Nyanza, Western and Coast provinces. Distributions include more than $1 million worth of relief supplies such as food, blankets, mosquito nets, tarps and mobile toilets.
Due to an increase in cases of sexual abuse in displacement camps, World Vision is also providing emotional support and professional counseling to women and children. "Many people take advantage of vulnerable children," Siema said. "These children have witnessed untold suffering. Some have seen their parents being killed, others cannot understand why they are on the run and going without food."
World Vision staff in Kenya are available for interviews. Please contact Rachel Wolff at 253.394.2214 or RWolff@worldvision.org, or Casey Calamusa at 206.310.5476.