Uganda is a beautiful and interesting country – and Kampala, the capital city, is always full of commotion. It’s jam-packed with people, cars and the “boda boda” – the motorcycle taxis. Its markets are constantly full of human traffic, and its night life is considered one of the wildest in African cities. Prostitution is widespread, so is HIV/AIDS.
Uganda has a sad history of civil wars; over the last decade there has been terrorism, kidnappings and serious criminal activities. The country – like many other African countries -battles with poverty and gross economic inequalities. The good news is that Uganda has some of the best educational centers, an educated population, intelligent people and strongly religious people. It has many civic organisations dedicated to fighting poverty in its various forms.
African countries are so diverse and different. When I landed at Entebbe Airport in Kampala early May 2019 to facilitate a 3-day Conflict Transformation Workshop I knew I had a rich, new experience ahead of me. I come from the Southern part of Africa, and Uganda is in East Africa. The difference in terms of culture and cuisine is distinct. I always love to learn new things. From my travels in Africa I can say that Uganda has some of the best cuisine. I really enjoyed the street “rolex”; this is not a fancy watch, but an egg fried and wrapped in a chapatti – so delicious! “Matooke” (cooked bananas) is also a delicacy.
Ildephonse Niyokindi from Burundi invited me to co-facilitate this workshop with him. He is a graduate of the Egypt ‘Training of Conflict Transformation Trainers’ (TCTT) 2017. He is a hard-working young man and was happy that I came along to “mentor” him as he learns from me and I learn from him. I am a 2013 TCTT Kenya graduate, and I have acquired some experience over the years through co-facilitating TCTTs with Dan Buttry – in Nigeria (2014) and the Ukraine (2015). I have led workshops in over a dozen African countries and in Italy, the US, and Thailand.
Dan Buttry established the Global Mentoring Peace Fund through International Ministries. This fund has been instrumental in mentoring young, inexperienced trainers (like me!) Eventually I was able to mentor others, including Ildephonse Niyokindi, Sango Silas Shila from Democratic Republic of Congo, Ketivani Murusidze of the Republic of Georgia, Boaz Keibarak of Kenya, Anthony Fabrice Kettemalet of Central African Republic, Philip Mudzidzi from Zimbabwe, the late Crispinus Ouma Pamba from Kenya who lived and worked in Italy. All these are graduates of the TCTT program. Therefore this workshop in Uganda was supported by this fund along with local support and the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America.
Ildephonse is one of the best organizers I have ever worked with. He linked with Alice Norah, (a Ugandan graduate of Kenya TCTT 2013). She is the leader of Anti-Terrorism Coalition Uganda which became the host organisation. In the process I also took responsibility to mentor her to be an effective trainer. In our trainings our vision is to have sustainable, measureable, attainable, realistic, and timely outcomes, and we did this. We trained a total of 25 young leaders from different organizations such as ANTCO Uganda and Amaana Consult Center, as well as a military war veteran, Uganda Girl Guides and university students. Participants came from Uganda and Burundi. This was an interfaith training with Christians, Muslims and traditionalists in the workshop. The purpose of this workshop was to prepare participants with knowledge of how to resolve conflicts in a non-violent manner in their community. The other objective was for them to train others to be peace-loving people. What we realised is that participants already have the resources for conflict transformation; our role was to facilitate processes for effective activism. We nailed it!
The participants are sending us reports, pictures and stories of how they are practicing these skills. Ildephonse and I set up a platform on WhatsApp and Facebook where we are doing one-on-one coaching. It is really amazing to see that attitudes are changing. Participants are realizing that a better society starts with them. I learned a lot, and was inspired.
After our workshop we received invitations from the Amaana Consult Centre to train counselors, from a Pentecostal Church to train their youth, and from the Girl Guides to create a peace program for their curriculum. We accepted these invitations and hope to do the work this year (possibly in October). Thank you so much for your support, which continues to change lives and enables this peace and justice work to continue…!
Christina and Lance Muteyo