In 2013, Play for Peace trainers Thozi Ndlazi from South Africa and Lolo Evans from the United States conducted a series of Play for Peace trainings in Kenya. As a result, groups in the areas they visited began practicing Play for Peace activities, using the power of play to bring people together in the area, despite conflict that existed. While Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963, the country still feels the effects of colonialism today; struggles around land and access to resources remains a source of conflict. People in Kenya have dealt with ethnic conflict as well—the most serious ones arose in 2007 and 2008 from disputed presidential elections.
Children in Kenya are often the most affected by conflict. Since many experience or witness violence on a regular basis, they often don’t know how to resolve conflicts, or avoid them altogether. As a result of the introduction of Play for Peace activities, teachers in the schools Thozi and Lolo visited reported that they saw much improvement in the children’s academic and co-curricular development. The constant fighting stopped and the kids developed their own voices and learned how to resolve their differences.
In early 2019, Tacoma, Washington-based trainers Sam and Sarah Towers visited Kenya, where they knew the concept of Play for Peace had been introduced. They hoped to learn more about the needs and accomplishments of the people there in order to offer support, much like they had done in Burundi during the same trip. Everywhere Sam and Sarah went, they felt the desire to continue Play for Peace. The groups they encountered displayed a great commitment to peace and to Play for Peace as an organization. This was especially true of the older children they met. Kenya provides free, mandatory education until children are in the 8th grade, but due to poverty, only about five out of 80 eighth graders go on to secondary school—even though many more have the desire and ability. So for children of this age, Sam and Sarah’s visit sparked the desire to learn and grow and expressed strongly that they would welcome more training and peace education from Play for Peace.
After conducting practice peace sessions in six different Kenyan schools, one of them recently formed a Play for Peace club in the city of Kisii. Since the beginning of this year, the new club, led by mentor Innocent Maina, has organized several activities and even participated in Earth Week! The Play for Peace global community is excited about the future of this new club and its potential to bring laughter, compassion, and peace to children in Kenya.