Celebrating Mama Shamsa on International Women’s Day

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” 

— Mother Teresa 

We had the privilege of meeting Ms. Shamsa Abubakar Fadhil, a Kenyan peace mediator, community mobilizer, and winner of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity 2023. Popularly known as Mama Shamsa, she joined GNRC through a programme funded by Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), aimed at empowering vulnerable women in Kisauni, Mombasa. Mama Shamsa facilitated children’s forums held in places of worship, the most common being Elim Church Nyali led by Rev. Maria Menego, a member of GNRC Kenya, and secretary of the GNRC Kenya committee. 

The news of her visit to Arigatou International – Nairobi office was received with great excitement. As soon as she arrived, she got to know everyone, and her laughter warmed the room. 

Mama is a great storyteller! The same warmth that her laughter carried, is the same warmth that our hearts were filled with as she shared the humble story of her work. Her effort in countering violent extremism is inspiring. To her, a little goes a long way. “Anyone aligned to humanitarian work should do it with an open heart, expecting nothing in return” Mama Shamsa.

The issue of violent extremism is not abstract. It has been on the rise in East Africa in recent years, causing anxiety among peacebuilding communities. Due to a lack of dedicated tools, The Goldin Institute, Chicago, and Arigatou International – Nairobi supported the development of the Community Resilience Against Violent Extremism (CRAVE) Resource Guide to fill that gap. Preceding the CRAVE Resource Guide, was the Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism (BRAVE) Training Manual and Resource Guide, by the Center for Sustainable Conflict Resolution (CSCR), aimed at addressing the rising radicalization and violent extremism, focusing on violent manifestations in Kenya. 

“The process of rehabilitating those who have fallen victim to violent extremism is not easy – it is a long and slow process” Mama Shamsa stated. She explained the importance of demystifying narratives used by violent extremists to radicalize the youths, empowering, and encouraging them to find easy and sustainable means to fend for themselves.

According to Mama, the issue of violent extremism is a thorn in Mombasa. She explained that the leading causes of radicalization and violent extremism in Mombasa were a lack of education, a breakdown of the nuclear family unit, misguided ideologies, and religious differences that many religious leaders refrain from addressing.  

“I am happy to have met the Arigatou International – Nairobi team, I feel very welcome and at home here,” she said as she departed.

We were all left inspired and motivated. 

Oh! You might wonder why we refer to her as Mama, well… before she left, she warmly said “I now have additional children at Arigatou International and you are welcome to call me Mama.”

“Be selfless. You end up getting more than you anticipate when your soul is giving.”

Thank you MAMA, we celebrate you.

Signed off,

GNRC Communications,

Stacy Ndungu and Tracy Memusi

Children Gangs in Kenya: A Faith Leaders Perspective 

“In my community, there are about ten known gangs that have recruited children and youth. They get attracted to gangs because of different factors within their environment. Through the GNRC, I have learned a lot. I now recognize the challenges of children in society and embrace them without judging or condemning them. Faith leaders should connect with their communities and educate them on the importance of maintaining spiritual resilience to overcome these challenges.”

– Rev Maria Kipruto,

GNRC Kenya

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