This year, URI Malawi Country Coordinator, Geoffrey Manasseh has been a participant of the KAICIID African Fellows Programme. The KAICIID Fellows Programme brings together leaders and educators from different religious backgrounds from around the world, for training in dialogue facilitation, intercultural communication and promoting social cohesion. As part of this fellowship, Geoffrey had the opportunity to visit Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia, where he joined a cohort of 34 participants from 11 countries to engage and learn more about the transformative power of interfaith peacebuilding.
As part of this fellowship, participants are given support and guidance to initiate projects of their own. Wanting to share the knowledge and information he learnt through the KAICIID training, as well as continue to strengthen the work of interfaith peacebuilders in Malawi, Geoffrey initiated a 3 month training programme for 20 young peace ambassadors.
As Geoffrey says,
“The purpose of implementing this interfaith/intercultural youth intensive training is to enhance and sustain peace by equipping them with knowledge of dialogue, interfaith leadership skills, conflict resolution and peace building. This training will help people learn about the importance of interfaith dialogue, respecting diversity and step forward as peace ambassadors by challenging conflict norms and discouraging the implementation of policies which fuel violence in communities.”
Of the 20 participants, the group is representative of the faiths of Christianity, Islam and Rastafarianism, with 6 women and 14 men. The programme also brought in two lecturers, Sheik Ahmed Chiyenda from the Muslim Information Office and Rev. Fr. Pililanin Jonas from Lake Malawi Anglican University, to help facilitate the programme and share their knowledge.
The group has had three sessions, one in July, one in August and one in October, all that went extremely well. The programme will end with a graduation ceremony on the 12th November.
This training opportunity comes at a really poignant time in Malawi, where a recent incident surrounding a controversial billboard message has brought the conversation of interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding to the main media. This has amplified the need for dialogue and engagement on issues of interfaith understanding and cooperation.
The training that is being delivered seeks to:
- Increase the number of faith leaders with improved knowledge on peace building
- Increase the number of community and faith youth leaders with improved knowledge on dialogue
- Promote particularly interfaith young women leaders, who can engage and participating in decision making at local levels
- Increase the number of religious leaders who feel courage and confidence to become peace ambassadors
Local media have also captured the stories of the trainings, and their impact on the community.
The significance of this training has been greatly felt by participants:
"I grow up trained in religion from parents but surely this training has taken away a certain blind layer in my eyes which has been avoiding me to see other sides of religions"
Ishmael Amin said.
"I think these kinds of trainings give us a template of peace since it promotes the knowledge of respect, deep understanding and love, of which to me I call it a window of hope"
Shira Malango echoed.
We are grateful to all who have made this training opportunity possible!