Submitted by Community on Fri, 2012-09-07 12:49
- STORIES FROM MAAI MAHIU, KENYA -
This week, we celebrate Naomi Muthoni for being selected to attend the Global Youth Peace Summit in Austin, Texas. Naomi, who lives in Maai Mahiu, Kenya, jumped at the opportunity to travel all the way to the United States and had many experiences along the way. Among the twenty students who wrote an essay about peace, Naomi’s was selected as the best and she was awarded a certificate of participation. Above all, she was recognized for having the best Peace Delegate Interview out of the top three selected essays.
Having won the competition, she had a chance to participate in the 6th Annual Global Youth Peace Summit through The Amala Foundation. She shared her experiences with her family, friends and community. She acknowledged that being in The States was a dream come true for her. Prior to her travels, she had written of her wish to travel to the U.S in bold letters knowing that her wish will come true. And there she is, with her own experience and lessons she learned.
On the 8th of August, Naomi was escorted to the Jomo Kenyatta Nairobi International Airport by the CTC family as well as her own, where she left Kenya for the United States. Upon arriving, she was met by one of our CTC interns from the U.S. office, Olivia, who warmly welcomed her after travelling all the way from Maai-Mahiu, Kenya. While in Austin, Naomi had the chance to visit the Capitol, where she saw where the Texas House and Senate hold their meetings and debates. Naomi also enjoyed seeing the portrait of President George Bush on the wall.
Since she loves watching Walker Texas Rangers movies, she was surprised to see a monument at the State Capital dedicated to the Texas Rangers.
Olivia, who hosted Naomi for the week, was so kind to her and took her to all the marvelous places around Austin. "This is a great place, but there are many fantastic things to come. This is just the beginning," Olivia reminded her. "Tasting the Mexican food was not my favorite. But eating waffles, Oh! I miss it!!" Naomi said, recalling the different types of food she had tried.
Naomi’s initial view about The United States, was that she found it very pleasing in terms of the widespread population and the construction of buildings. Naomi described Austin, Texas as being the most clean town she has ever seen. She found it very surprising that the majority of the citizens have their own vehicles and that riding in buses is not as common as it is in Kenya.
In comparison to the Kenyan economy, Naomi noticed that the economy in Austin was not much more expensive. Austin is well developed and also has suitable infrastructure. This realization made Naomi feel pity for her own country and makes her wonder when Kenya will develop to the same level as The United States, a country that pleases most human’s heart.
Naomi feels extremely fortunate to have participated in the 2012 Global Youth Peace Summit due to all the great experiences she had while interacting with people from 28 different countries. She also learned that being at peace with the community, friends, families and to the whole country generally leads into a developing movement of unity and harmony. Despite being an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) who left Kisumu for Maai-Mahiu, Naomi has also learned that being at peace is very important. She believes that if peace was around the corner, the post-election violence would not have occurred.
“Nothing is impossible, being one's self is possible” says Naomi. She also believes that “rather than strictly doing and achieving, it is important to be willing to undo, to unravel, to return home to your true self. Many people fear to speak out, thinking they are alone facing heavy burdens, but once you speak, the fear and pain in you vanishes. Speaking from your heart is the medicine to your freedom.”
Naomi also stands firmly by the motto of The Summit which was recited after every talk or fire circle, “Love. Respect. Honesty. Community. One village.” Love entails not underestimating the power of the human heart, and being more curious when getting to know people. Also, the love in a village or community and family extends into all existences, so love is everywhere. Respect entails not practicing judgment, but listening to other people’s views no matter how young or old they are, just truly listen. Honesty includes having an open-heart, spreading the message of peace and love all over the world by standing to one’s own truths. Community brings communication and friendship, which is not a right, but a privilege that has no limit and no end to its trust. One village belongs to the families that we are included and play a role. One village teaches more about life and giving what you want most in order to be given what you need most, which you have to first find in yourself.
Naomi comments that the village circle made her to be strong and shared what she wasn’t able to share with anyone among her family, friends and the entire community. People may come through different paths and roads but the concerns within each individual's heart is something that can’t be taken from them.
Naomi’s next move forward is to encourage her friends in school to start a peace movement that will educate students and the community of the importance of peace within one’s self and also to those living around you. Naomi also wishes to return to the Global Youth Summit to further explore this whole new world!
ICT Specialist, Ruby Ruth