GSN launched its first impact report “Growing Connection, Resiliency and Agency: The impact of community-led trauma-informed peacebuilding in response to violent extremism in Kenya” at the second annual Paris Peace Forum (12 November 2019).

Maria’s Story

I’m very proud of my heritage. It is what makes me who I am, it’s what makes me unique. I come from a family of police officers. By many people’s standards, I have really excelled at my career and am now part of a specialist squad. 

Growing up with in the police service was quite a positive challenge. The community had certain expectations of me: I felt that my teachers expected me to be disciplined, honest, conscientious and hardworking. I felt the need to show to my school mates that I was tough but fair, firm but friendly, aggressive but helpful, confident and assured. Our parents expected nothing but the very best from us- their belief was that to be perceived as leaders in the community the children needed to be models of good behaviour.

Joining the police service after I completed my formal education was a given. Being a policewoman had been my dream for as long as I could remember. I thought I knew what it took to excel in this field. I was physically fit, I was resilient, I was disciplined, and I was hardworking. What I did not know was that I was a rescuer and that meant I was hindering from taking responsibilities and thereby , disempowering them. 

When I was selected to attend the Mwamko Mpya training, I expected to learn a lot of things. But I got even more than expected. At the training, I got a much better understanding of myself. While studying the effects of trauma and stress on one’s life, I learnt that having a strong support system can help one weather the storms of life and come out victorious. This was exactly what I had enjoyed all my life- a strong support system! 

Following my training, I was able to shift my sympathy to empathy, gain mindfulness and through mindfulness gain gratitude.  As a counsellor, I now encourage more of my colleagues to pursue a mindful journey that helps them towards building strong family units which can then act as their support systems and help them weather whatever storms life throws at them, while encouraging them to take responsibility.

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