Benjamin Munyao, a sophomore at Colorado College, has received a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant for his proposal, “Vijana Amkeni Sasa Initiative: Creating a Peaceful Society in Kenya.” Munyao’s project, is literally, a “Project for Peace,” in that it recognizes the post-election violence in Kenya and aims to help break the cycle of youth involvement in election violence.
Munyao’s proposal to the Projects for Peace committee includes this background: “In 2007, Kenya’s disputed presidential election triggered an explosion of violence that killed more than 1,000 people and displaced an estimated 500,000 others. Youth were highly involved in this violence both as victims and as perpetrators. As the country braces for another general election in late 2012 or early 2013, experts are already predicting violence and signs of renewed tension are evident.”
Munyao, who is from Nairobi, Kenya, is the project leader and will be working with Collins Mukaria, a sophomore at Nairobi University; Joseph Munyambanza, a first-year at Westminster College, Mo.; and Nicholas Kithama, a Kenyan radio talk show co-host.
Their project is threefold and involves partnering with the existing Vijana Amkeni Sasa Initiative (VASI), an organization that aims to engage the young population and communities in Kenya and beyond by creating a powerful, informed, economically empowered and motivated youth generation.
Munyao’s group will sponsor a workshop on creating a peaceful society at the organization’s annual youth conference. VASI recruits from 210 districts in Kenya and already conducts workshops on youth leadership, youth empowerment, and entrepreneurship. Second, they will sponsor a guest speaker who will address the elements necessary for a peaceful society at the conference. Third, they will launch a nationwide “youth for peace” media campaign, scheduled for Aug. 16-31, as the presidential campaigns are underway and in anticipation of an election in late 2012 or early 2013.
Now in its sixth year, the Davis Projects for Peace continue to support and encourage motivated youth to create and tryout ideas for building peace. Philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis launched Projects for Peace on her 100th birthday in 2007 and has renewed her commitment every year since. This year nearly $1.25 million will be awarded in the form of $10,000 grants to students who submitted winning proposals for projects to be completed during the summer of 2012.
"Competition is keen and we congratulate the students whose projects have been selected for funding in 2012," said Philip O. Geier, who runs the Projects for Peace initiative. Projects which address conflict resolution, reconciliation, foster understanding, provide opportunity, and unleash human potential to build community are among the successful projects to date.