Freedom of Religion or Belief Youth Exchange; Mombasa County

It’s a Monday, the weather at the Coast has not decided on its appropriate mood. There is an air of excitement among the youths; the Mombasa youths are already up and about preparing the hall for the first meeting, the Indonesia team is excited to be meeting the rest of the team, and soon the Netherlands team joins in – completing the entire team. There is anticipation of the first meeting as a whole group; at this point the youths don’t know how the other group will react, will they be receptive or will even the chemistry work. The specific youth groups had traveled together so they had bonded, now the real test would be if the chemist from the various groups would be in sync.

“Form two lines, tell us your name, where you are from and do for us a special walk”, that is all the introduction activity the youth needed. They took to the floor showcasing their catwalks, their high fives, their queen waves, their ‘you see me not” move, their dance moves, running and even moonwalks across the hall. This bonded the groups immensely, with their joy and laughter bonding them instantly. Phyllis Muema, Executive Director of Kenya Community Support Society (KECOSCE) officially welcomed the group to Mombasa.

“Youth are the majority of population in the world. Youth need to demand their space, youth need to claim their space, and the youth can change the world in the spaces that they are in.”– Phillis Muema, Executive Director KECOSCE

It is my responsibility and yours to change the world – let us change the world.

Stephanie Joubert, the Program Manager, Freedom of Religion or belief (FoRB) program took this opportunity to mention this was the start of this great journey of Freedom of Religion or Belief exchange project. Mentioning that this was the first of the exchange visit of the cluster and was looking forward to the rest of the exchanges.

“I am looking forward to youths interacting, learning and exchanging ideas,” said Stephanie.

The executive director of the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya Dr. Francis Kuria was also present at the inception meeting of the exchange.

“We have shared problems. We need to reach out to the rest of the world so that we can address these issues together,” Dr. Kuria

The youth visited the Mombasa County Commissioners office. The Commissioner, Mr. Gilbert Kitiyo welcomed the visitors to Mombasa County. A County that is strategically located to cater for the needs of its neighboring countries, one that has the most beautiful beaches in Africa making it a major tourist destination.

“Mombasa is the main tourist attraction site in Kenya .The visitors should explore the nature,” advised the Commissioner. “Kenya is strategically placed and its economic stability has attracted a lot of interest from other countries thus increasing its vulnerability in terms of peace”, continued the Mombasa County Commissioner

Mombasa has its fair share of problems, the youth are easily swayed and lured to illegal activities due to unemployment. Most of these youths find their way back home and are rehabilitated in to the society.

Mr Kitiyo continued, “Mombasa has been peaceful, thanks for broadened partnerships between state and non-state actors in preventing radicalization,” then he added that, “Kenya is promoting public participation in reporting and information sharing on security issues”,

 “Economic stability of an area is dependent of the Security of that area. Let’s embrace peace,” Phyllis Muema

The day couldn’t end without visiting Mama Ngina water front. This was day one of the Freedom of Religion or belief youth exchange program.

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