Updated: Oct 18
Romano Iluku, a peacebuilder in Nairobi, Kenya, with SIA Partner Empowering Communities as Actors for Transforming Societies (e-CATS), is sharing his skills in south Seattle public schools this month. His good work was highlighted on the front page of the Seattle Times in an article by
Romano and his team are teaching the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), which helps people respond to conflict in helpful and peaceful ways rather than with violence. The Highline School District in Washington State is investing in these conflict-resolution workshops to reduce violence in their schools without increasing the presence of security guards or medical detectors.
When AVP got the call to do the workshops, they reached out to their trainers around the world, and Romano was delighted to get a US visa to come and co-lead the training. Romano first learned about AVP in 2008 in Kenya, and since then, he has worked with the program in different communities in Kenya, as well as in South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia.
Alternatives to Violence in Kenya
This year, funded with a SIA grant, e-CATS ran a series of AVP workshops around Nairobi, Kenya. In a short video about the project, e-CATS leaders, including Romano and SIA African Advisory Board member Wambui Nguyo, tell us about the impact of this program in the ethnically diverse and low-income neighbourhood of Mwihoko Githurai.
An Enriching Experience
When I asked Romano about his experience, he wrote: “My experience of doing the same program here in the USA and in East Africa, in the community and in schools, is enriching. The most important aspect is creating a safe space for young people to start feeling a sense of belonging and respect. That builds their self-confidence and allows them to connect with the inner self and the surrounding environment.”
Worldwide, we can all benefit from learning new ways of interacting, communicating, and solving conflict in new and peaceful ways.