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).

THE TOOL BOX

Words like easy going, friendly, relaxed could never have been used to describe him. Instead, many found him rigid, stiff, unyielding. He was set in his ways, he didn’t like surprises, he liked to be in control.

So when news of his transfer to a remote place was received, many held their breath for the eruption that was sure to take place. But nothing happened. Some wondered if he was in denial, others argued that he hadn’t processed the news, but everyone was surprised at his apparent calm.

Next, his son who was in his last year of high school broke his leg a few days before he was to sit for his national examinations. His surgery was in fact the very weekend before. He was expected to travel to his son’s school, stand by his side during the surgery and organize for a medic to accompany his son to the exam room. We thought he would bulk under the pressure, but he stood firm; we thought he would falter with fear, but he stayed focused; we thought he would grow faint with anxiety, but he took it all in his stride. We could hardly recognize this new man!

His change was so dramatic, so unexpected, so bewildering that I grew extremely curious. I wanted to know what had happened to change this man’s character so profoundly. I wanted to know what had helped him withstand the blows life had dealt him at the same time, blows that would have felled the old him. His answer was profound. He said, “When a car breaks down on the high way, you take out your tool box, tinkle with the car until you find where the problem is. Maybe it’s a part that needs to be replaced, maybe it’s something lose that needs tightening, whatever it is, you fix it and proceed with the journey. I attended Wellbeing and Resilience sessions which gave me the tools to deal with life’s stresses and trauma. I learnt a lot of things which I have been able to apply hence the change that you observe in me. Without that training, I would be fighting with the system over my transfer and my son’s accident at the same time would have left me totally disoriented and overwhelmed. This is a new dawn for me.”

I walked away thinking that if these were the results then I too needed to attend those sessions!

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