The Interfaith Experience; The Inception

It is a Sunday afternoon and the heat in Malindi in Kilifi County is unforgiving. Slowly participants from Tana River County start streaming into Mwembe Resort, as a stander by one can easily tell by the luggage they are carrying they are a group of people who are planning on being away from their homes for a while. The first participants stroll in and walk straight to where the Interfaith Experience banner is placed. A banner that had elicited a heated debate 20 minutes earlier when the staff and some visitors at Mwembe were trying to understand what an Interfaith Experience was.  

The interfaith Experience is a five-day experience that IRCK, KECOSCE and Mensen met een Missie have partnered to deliver to the people of Tana. It is an experiential learning program for peace-builders that aims at integrating personal reflection and awareness into tackling interfaith peace-building, in the community. This is the 2nd time the Interfaith Experience is being carried out in Kenya. The first time the experience was had was by the people of Kwale County. 

“I found myself reflecting about me – my faith, my tribe and with that I started thinking of the other person. When one experiences this, then one can be able to handle other people in their community because they know and understand who they are,” shared Hassan Kibwana who had attended the 1st Interfaith Experience in Kwale County. 

The experience is unlike any other kind of training or workshop or program– in its design, it promises moments of reflection by the participants and hopes to create a community of like-minded peace-builders who exchange personal and professional experience and develop their tools and facilitation skills for interfaith peace processes. 

One by one the participants registered for the experience and checked in for the night.

Trust Building

Early Monday morning the group was seated in the conference room and ready to start the day. First Activity – ‘Hello it is Me’ this is where a participant introduces themselves and accompanies it with a gesture. The group is standing outside, one by one they start introducing themselves, and one after the other they got to know each other better!

Pamela Reynell was the lead facilitator for the 5-day event – her first task was to get people to give a word that alliterates their name. It started at Passionate Pamela, Believer Bahola, Sociable Samuel, the names kept on being dropped, Amani Abdullahi, Religious Rashid, Elegant Edna, Jacob Judiciary around the room the names kept on flowing. At this point, the participants were chatting and bonding like they have known each other for a long time.

The Golden Rule

Next, the group watched a video on the golden rule and reflected on the contents of the video:

What is the Golden rule? What is your understanding of the Golden rule? This led to the first group breakaway session. The groups were to discuss their reflections, what they understood and took out from the video. As they came back they were handed golden rulers to symbolize and remind them of the golden rule.

Participants were paired and asked to draw a portrait of each other strictly on how the other person was describing themselves.

Monday was a day to build trust, through knowing each other, not only by name but by a creative word that alliterates ones name, through the golden rule of treating others like you would like them to treat you to describing who you are as your partner drew you.

Day 1, building trust with each other, established.

It was definitely going to be a great week.

By Mary Ndulili

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