I rubbed my eyes because I couldn’t believe what I was just seeing. I closed my eyes and opened them again. Never would I have expected to find what I just did – an empty house; I had been robbed.
Like many of my colleagues, I had always lived in the camp. But then things have changed and now more police officers are finding themselves living outside the camp alongside the community.
The experiences have been varied. Some have found members of the communities where they live friendly, warm and welcoming. Others, like me, have found the community suspicious, hostile and cold. My relationship with my neighbours is a mirror of the community and the police relate.
I did not understand what made my neighbour’s hostile. I often wondered whether they had had negative prior dealings with law enforcers; had they been mistreated? Had they been ignored? Did they feel unseen? Had they been victimised? All these questions floated daily on my mind, but I had no one to ask for the very people with the answers were the very people who did not want to have anything to do with me.
It should not have come as a surprise that I had been robbed. I was sure that my neighbours might have witnessed suspicious activity but since they felt no loyalty or camaraderie towards me, no one had bothered to raise the alarm and save my property. How was I ever going to change my frosty relationship with my neighbours?
This question was answered when I attend a Muamko Mpya workshop. At the workshop, I came to understand why my neighbours treated me with hostility and suspicion – learning about the cycles of violence was a huge eye opener for me. Even better for me was learning different positive coping strategies one of them being constructive actions.
After the training, I designed and executed various community outreach programs that saw the community warm up towards me and other members of the uniformed service. We organized community clean up exercises, we held public barazas to address the challenges the community was facing and we even made friendly door to door visits to get to know our neighbours better and to introduce ourselves thereby, building their confidence in our goodwill and our approachability.
Thanks to the Muamko Mpyaworkshop I attended, I now enjoy a very warm and cordial relationship with the community that I serve and we are all working together towards a safe and secure community.