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).

“Overcoming loss”

If there had been a word that would have described my son, then anger would have been it. He was angry all the time, angry at everyone and everything, angry at how I dressed, angry at what I watched, angry with his siblings, angry at the community, angry that we weren’t devout enough-angry, angry, angry. But he hadn’t always been like this…
I remember feeling relief when my son suddenly became devout. I remember also feeling a sense of pride in his reform. I was happy that he was turning to his faith while he was still young. My son had been disinterested in faith but once he started attending prayers at the mosque, his behaviour changed. His prayers were punctual, his friends were devout, he was frequently seen in the company of the imam, he even changed his wardrobe!
The imam was a charming young man who had led a revolution in our very own mosque. He had ousted of a team of older leaders by claiming they were corrupt.-He took charge of the running of the mosque and the youth with his energy and vivacity- – my son soon fell under his spell.
That was when his anger started. My son suddenly became secretive and withdrawn, refusing to share what he was learning at the mosque under Ahmed Iman Ali. This is when alarm bells should have started ringing in my mind. It was not that much of a big surprise when he disappeared. I would later learn that Imam Ali had facilitated his journey to Somalia along with many other young men in the community to join Al-shabaab. It broke my heart that he had left behind a young wife and young daughters – people who loved, looked up to him and needed him.
Sometime later, I started hearing rumours that my son had surrendered to the security forces about the same time when the Anti-terror unit stopped the continuous raids my house. I was relieved that he had seen the light and had chosen to cooperate with the authorities. Little did I know that this was but the beginning of the end.

After being in custody for a year, he was released and warned to avoid Majengo. I wish they had warned him of more for he was now a marked man. The assassin’s bullet found him one day at the barbershop when he had gone in for a shave – that’s how I lost my son, to two men who had been sent to punish him for being a traitor.
You can imagine the avalanche of emotions that I have been experiencing.. I have blamed myself for not seeing the danger, I have felt angry and bitter with the government for not protecting him, I have felt hatred towards Ahmed Ali who ordered his death, I have lived in fear of the Anti-terror police unit – my life has been a mess.
All that was before I attended Kumekucha sessions. In the workshop, I learnt all about trauma, it’s sources and causes, how to deal with it and how to help others. The kumekucha sessions were a time of inner healing for me, a time to reflect on the past and let go, a time to confront my loss and move on, a time to make peace and face the future confidently. I wish my son had lived long enough to hear about Kumekucha.
Now I help my fellow women in the community tackle their own stress and trauma using the tools I learned from Kumekucha. We meet at my house every month. Our main agenda is healing, we also visit families affected by violent extremism. Apart from healing, we contribute a few shillings every month for our savings kitty – our healing group is all about all rounded wholeness.


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