IRFF/RYS Build a Medical Clinic in Lugari, Western Kenya

by Twisibile Nthakomwa, Tanzania

Healing the body and spirit is integral to the medical field but it is also an important element in building an environment for peace. The human body requires a healthy way of life in order to maintain its fitness. For a nation to thrive in health, harmony among its people and among its neighbors is a prerequisite. The IIFWP’s 2nd Ambassadors for Peace initiative went to work with the IRFF and RYS in creating an international service project that would build a medical clinic but also pull together diverse ethnic and cultural groups in a program of community building. The following is a report from one of the projects participants.

From August 9th-22nd, the Kenya chapter of the International Relief Friendship Foundation (IRFF) in cooperation with the Religious Youth Service (RYS) organized the 5th Africa Rising Project with a the theme of ‘The Special needs of Africa: Implementing the Culture of Peace Through Health.’ Our peace building effort included working to construct a medical clinic, sharing various education activities and learning through inter-faith sharing.

This project is part of a continued effort to promote development and peace within Africa under the banner of Africa Rising. The project was also in part sponsored by the Ambassadors for Peace and served as a way to begin training young adults to step up to the responsibility of becoming Youth Ambassador’s for Peace.

The Kenyan participants were male and female youth leaders representing various institutions that included universities, youth organizations and churches. Faiths represented in the project were Roman Catholic, various Protestant denominations, the African Inland Church, and Islam. Similarly, all major and minor tribes in Kenya—Kikuyu, Kamba, Meru, Embu, Abaluya, Luo, Maasai, Kalenjin and Somali—were equally represented. Adding to the project diversity were international participants who came from Luxembourg, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia. In total there were 33 participants joined a 2-day orientation program in Nairobi.

The opening ceremony of the Africa Rising Project took place on the 9th of August at the Wida Hotel in Nairobi. It was attended by a number of leaders including the Honorable Mr. Isaac A. Ruto, the Minister for Labor and Human Resource Development youthful Minister of Vocational Training, Dr. Massimo Trombin, Executive Director of IRFF (Europe); Dr Chris M. Nyamai, Director of IRFF (Kenya), Reverend Yim Do Soon, the Continental Director of the Family Federation for World Peace (Africa) and Mr. Fred Wamisi, the Secretary General of IIFWP (Kenya).

In his keynote address, Mr. Ruto called for cooperation and unity among NGO’s who while working together should maintain strong moral standards. Kenya has become a nation filled with numerous NGO’s and the perception of the work of these organizations performs is mixed. The Minister warned that ‘non-government organizations must not be viewed as a journey for trade and economic benefit but should be recognized as contributors to society.’

The Minister noted with great admiration the volunteer participants who were gathered together from various countries and faith traditions. "You willingly give without pay, your own time, your energy and resources through service for the achievement of a health project. In order to have lasting peace, special individual interests should never overshadow universal interests as you are demonstrating through your work with IRFF. This work will stimulate individuals to live for a higher purpose."

Dr Trombin shared with those gathered the objectives of IRFF and with a special focus on the role it has in giving youth a greater opportunity to shape their destiny. He outlined the twenty five year history of IRFF and then shared the purpose of the RYS which has been an IRFF partner since in began in 1985. Both these organizations were inspired and in part funded by Reverend Sun Myung Moon to create an environment where peace could take root in the world.

Orientation in Nairobi

The projects orientation on August 10th-11th was held in Nairobi and served to prepare us for the upcoming work. An additional program component was guided by Dr. Trombin as he encouraged small teams to gather and take part in team discussions on issues affecting the youth of our world. These discussions touched a range of subjects including, ‘The role of youth in solving problems’, ‘Causes of conflicts in Africa and paths to resolution’; ‘Learning how to implement a culture of peace’. Various leadership and communication exercises were also woven into the orientation in order to help each of us have a better understanding on how to be a good leader.

Participants left Nairobi in order to travel to the project site in the Lugari District on the 12th of August. On the way we toured Lake Nakuru National Park and were inspired by the beauty of the pink flamingos and the wide diversity that exists in nature. Among the animals we saw were buffalo, black rhinos, elephants, baboons, zebra, monkey and antelope.

The Lugari Experience

The whole village of Marakusi in Lugari District warmly joined to welcome us on an opening ceremony at a local school. The ceremony was sponsored by the Women’s Federation for World Peace-Japan who have for years been running that school and were bringing in a medical team to help during the project. In typical Kenya style, the District Officer, Mr. Sam welcomed the participants and thanked IRFF for the medical health clinic project. He urged the residents of Marakusi village to cooperate with the participants for the successful accomplishment of the building project and this they did!

Construction of the clinic took 9 days with participants working extremely hard and managed to complete building to the lintel level and poured concrete work for the ring beam. The roof of the clinic was later put up by workers form the community.

On Monday the 21st, a team of Japanese members of WFWP arrived at the project site to offer free medication to the local residents. On the same day, a cultural program was organized for the participants which was very entertaining, inspiring and lively. The program included traditional songs, dances, sketches and poetry. In response, participants in their respective teams returned with entertainment of their own making. A local band from Lugari also played an entertaining the participants with such songs like Karibu Wageni wetu (meaning: welcome our visitors), Cinderella, Maraika and many more.

Apart from the community sharing during the cultural programs local residents jumped in on various sports activities. During the soccer games it was fascinating to see players share and cooperate in the friendliest way.

In the evening participants made presentations on issues of importance to the region. Talks varied and included titles such as: `How to practice sexual abstinence’; ‘Using your mind to control your body’. Presenters came from various religious backgrounds and they also shared their own experiences and beliefs. Through the process of taking part in presentations, talks, work and sharing we could come to an understanding that went well beyond the barriers of religions and ethnic origin. From our personal experiences we could realize how a culture of peace is to be implemented.