The focus of the next carol singing campaign 2022/23 of the Dreikönigsaktion (DKA) is in northern Kenya, in the regions of Marsabit and Samburu. In this desert-like region, 80 percent of the people live as pastoralists. Attacks on cattle herds by rival tribes, child marriage and genital mutilation are still social problems in the region, reported a group of “Yarumal Missionaries” from the Samburu region in an interview with Kathpress.
The DKA partner organization aims to improve the living conditions of women and girls through education and empowerment work. The project leader of “Yarumal Missionaries,” the priest Fr. Guillermo Alvarez, who comes from Latin America, is currently on tour in Austria with staff members to present the organization’s work. Education as the basis for sustainable development is the critical factor here, Alvarez said. For the shepherd children who looked after the herds during the day, he said, a total of nine evening schools have been set up throughout the region, where they learn English, Kiswahili, reading, writing and arithmetic. In addition, the children are given a meal before classes begin-for many; it is often the first after a long day in the heat, Alvarez said.
Social worker Irene Naanyu Lenawuatoop, who comes from the Samburu region, said that in particular, the marriage of young girls – on average, they are no older than twelve – too much older men, but also female genital mutilation is still deeply rooted in society. The goal of her work with women and girls, she says, is to empower them within a patriarchal society to take charge of their own lives. Women are raised from childhood to organize themselves and take care of families, “Africa is on the shoulders of women,” Lenawuatoop said. But they lack formal education, he said, with very few having the opportunity to attend school. He said the illiteracy rate is more than 80 percent among women in the region.
In addition, the women are educated about the negative consequences of child marriage, and genital mutilation, explained project worker Victoria Njeri Wanjiku. They would be encouraged to save their daughters from such a fate and to stand up against their husbands and families. This works exceptionally well when the women are independent and have their incomes, Wanjiku said.
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In the case of boys and young men, the focus is not only on literacy but also on peacebuilding; reports project staff member Silvester Tukai Adero. This is achieved through peace groups in schools and villages, training courses for different target groups and organizing sports events that bring people together. This still includes the notorious “cattle raiding,” i.e. attacks on the cattle herds of rival nomadic tribes. Father Alvarez reported that this is declining because young men are targeted with the above measures.
The Horn of Africa is one of the regions most severely affected by global warming. The country is currently experiencing the worst drought in over 40 years. For the nomads, this means they have to travel further distances ever to reach fertile areas for their herds, said Alvarez. It also means that there are more frequent conflicts among the nomadic groups, for example, over claims to fertile land.
- source: dka.at
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