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KAICIID Team and Fellows posing for picture

Interfaith Dialogue as a Tool to Build Peace and Cohesion

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Above: Group Photo with KAICIID Team and Fellows from the African Region during Orientation and Capacity Building Training in Ethiopia in February 2020.

My experience at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) was transformational in my career as a peacebuilder and shaped my world view. I participated in MPI in 2018 where I first attended an Islamic and Interfaith dialogue-reflection and three-weeks peacebuilding training. The Islamic and Interfaith reflection brought together peace actors from Mindanao from different faiths including Muslims, Christians, and indigenous communities, also known as lumads. There were also participants from India, Kenya, the Netherlands, and Uganda. The reflection’s main goal was the sharing of insights and experiences that would provide pointers for an interfaith toolkit.

Harriet Ahalo facilitating
Facilitating the Interreligious dialogue training with security officers, religious leaders, and the youth as part of the Fellows initiative.

With the experience at MPI, I knew the time was ripe to explore more of this new approach and how I can now share the same information with the communities I serve. During the reflection-meeting, I had the opportunity to interact with participants who brought with them their diverse experiences in interfaith dialogue. In those interactions, I learned about the KAICIID Dialogue Centre. KAICIID is an international center that seeks to promote the use of dialogue to prevent and to respond to conflicts and to enhance cooperation and understanding. The center has an annual fellows program where peacebuilders, teachers of religious studies, and religious leaders from different faith backgrounds get skills about interfaith and interreligious dialogue so they can become active peace advocates in their communities.

Small group discussion 4 people sitting in circle
Group discussion during the interreligious dialogue training.

Last year, I was selected as a 2020 fellow, along with 21 other fellows from Africa, representing Kenya under the Fellowship Program. As part of the program, fellows are given grants to implement initiatives in their community. I am currently implementing an initiative dubbed “Building partnership for cohesion in Kilifi County through Interreligious dialogue.” The initiative recognizes the role religious leaders from both Muslim and Christian faiths play in peace and conflict resolution. It also leverages the influence of cultural leaders as critical people in the community. The initiative has targeted religious leaders (Muslim, Christian, and cultural), security officers, and youth. It uses capacity building training, sensitization, and dialogue approaches. Currently, the initiative has reached 52 people out of the targeted 115.

Even as I continue with my peacebuilding work, I am always grateful to MPI for providing the platform where I learned about interfaith dialogue, mainstreaming peace in communities and schools, using culture as a resource for peacebuilding, and human-centered security. Also, I became part of an immense networking opportunity through their programs.

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