Thursday, October 18, 2012

This year the Nakuru Initiatives of Change (IofC) team marked the International Peace Day in style. This was the launching of the ‘Peace Bench’. The team, led by Samuel Muiruri, had been working closely with the Peace On Earth Bench Movement led by Brennan Bird from the USA. The movement has been launching similar benches across the world. James Gitonga reports.

Samuel Muiriru and friends collecting discarded bottles and polythene garbageThe amazing thing about this project is the impact it has on individuals and the community at large. It involves the use of used plastic bottles and polythene garbage to make building blocks. The polythene bags are inserted into the bottles until it becomes full. It’s a clever way to dispose of polythene bags as one bottle can hold a considerable amount of polythene. This makes it environmentally friendly.

Prior to the event the Nakuru team and the Rhonda community, a slum in Nakuru, worked hard to make it happen. They went round collecting plastic bottles and garbage to build the bench as a sign of solidarity and unity. It was also the same with the building of the peace bench.

Samuel Muiriru creating the peace benchOn 21 September, International Peace Day, various delegates arrived at the Rhonda estate to celebrate the day and to witness the launching of the bench. Members present were the IofC team, religious and political leaders, representatives of Armani Communities Africa and the elders from Manyani, Kaptembwa and Barut - the neighbouring slums. Also present were different media houses who had come to witness the 'wonders of waste'.

Peace was the main topic of the day, with each group having a chance to address the crowd. Stephen Kimaru, representing IofC, said it was amazing how the community could transform garbage into bricks and reduce pollution at the same time. He emphasized the need to work together to bring peace and harmony to the society. A member of parliament said, 'They are truly patriotic and great statesmen who bring Samuel Muiruri in front of the Peace Bench blessings and peace to the society wherever they are.' The various elders also called for peace particularly during this election period. 'The bench shall always remind us of the need to honor our differences, explore commonalities and create in the village values of respect, honesty, community and service that will build peace among us,' Samuel Muiruri said.

The Peace Bench will symbolically serve as a space where people from all walks of life can connect with each other on a human to human level, celebrate unity in diversity and share experiences of peace. It is a place where people can meet and lay foundations of community peace which requires that they live in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. The communities agreed that for the first time ever they had celebrated the day in style.

The day was also celebrated by the rest of the Kenyan population and broadcasted by different media stations.

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