Youth Addressing COVID-19, Peace and Security in Mombasa County

Inter-Religious Council of Kenya in partnership with Religions for Peace held several Maskani visits in Mombasa County, Nyali and Kisauni Sub counties in Katisha, Likoni Ferry, African Bar Boda Boda Base, African Bar Kongowea, Boda boda stage in Kiembeni, Homeboys Maeneo, and  Kwa Hero Mogokaa base. Maskani is a platform that brings youth together giving them a platform to discuss issues affecting their communities. The youth discussed matters of sensitization among the community members on the effects and prevention of COVID-19 , and peaceful co-existence.

During the Maskani at Katisha in Nyali Sub County the youth addressed the challenges that they believe are contributing to the raise of affected people, such as the pandemic is a source of funds for the Government. Adherence to some of the MoH guidelines such as lack of water in government offices and the political rallies only emphasizes their skepticism on the existence of the pandemic. The youth pointed out that trainings and resources would help in combating the spread of the pandemic. The youth in Katisha noted that when it comes to security lack of information and empowerment; and illiteracy causes a spike in insecurity in the area. There is need for the youth, security agencies and stakeholders to collaborate, and address issues that cause friction among them such as threats and harassment of the youth.

The youth noted that support, connection and linkages that boost businesses will go along away in ensuring their livelihood is safeguarded.”

The youth at Likoni Ferry held their discussions with fishermen, vendors and Boda boda riders. They addressed the various challenges they are facing such as lack of information and involvement from the County and the national Government. A percentage of the youth at the Maskani did not believe in the existence of COVID-19, due to lack of awareness, and sensitization on the pandemic. The lack of masks, soaps, and sanitizers were some of the additional challenges highlighted by the youth. Everyone in the community is at risk of COVID-19 therefore proper awareness and sensitization is needed in collaboration with the key stakeholders. With the pandemic, most businesses have been affected and the youth noted that support, connection and linkages that boost businesses will go along away in ensuring their livelihood is safeguarded.

At the African Bar Boda Boda Base, riders were sensitized by representatives from Mombasa Women of Faith as well as Interfaith Youth on the importance of masks while riding and when waiting for passengers. When it comes to security the Boda Boda Riders were advised, in case of an accident they should not take matters in to their own hands by harming the person involved or burning their vehicles but should help the casualty and escort the person involved to the nearest police station. This would go a long way in changing the community perceptions about them.

The youth that held a Maskani at African Bar Kongowea Nyali mentioned that the challenges in security were caused by lack of employment, income and idleness. This contributes to idle groupings of political differences, which brings intolerance, hatred, and distortion of cultural norms and religious beliefs. Some challenges identified were due to closure of schools as part of curbing COVID -19, such as children being introduced to drugs, increase of juvenile gangs and child labor. The restrictions put in in place by the government such as curfew affected some businesses and gave an avenue for harassment by rogue police officers.  

There was apparent need for a Baraza with parents to discuss the welfare, position and role of their children in the community. Through the CDF office Boda boda members can be given bursaries to join driving schools to enable them get licenses. The youth were advised on different ways of earning through service provision and starting businesses with a small capital.

At the Boda boda stage in Kiembeni the issues raised were riders are accused of crimes they had not committed by police and the larger community. The youth noted that with the decline of the economy it makes them work, long hours hence do not have time with their families; which makes it hard to address issues of well-being with their families.

Another Maskani was held at Homeboys Maeneo, where the youth were urged to take the COVID-19 MoH guidelines seriously as the disease is now infecting even more Kenyans across the nation. People are succumbing to the disease and hence the need to be serious about following the given guidelines. The youth addressed issues on behavior change and becoming socially responsible citizens. Matter of emphasis was put on their unity of purpose, they discussed on group formation and management dynamics. Financial discipline was also encouraged especially to those currently in Kazi Mtaani initiative.

Representatives from Mombasa Women of Faith and the Interfaith Youth in Mombasa led the 4-day Maskani engagements.

By Mary N.

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