“What is peace?”

Laureta Madegwa works for CAFOD in the city of Nairobi, Kenya.

I met Barry, Margaret and Danny Mizen in 2011 when they visited my home city of Nairobi. I work for CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) and was the Mizen family’s guide here. I took them to see the peace initiatives being carried out in the slum villages of Kibera and Korogocho. I met Margaret again recently and thought of her work when I had a bad experience of my own.

I was walking my sister Janet to a local university to deliver some documents. This university is about two to three kilometres away door to door. I took this chance to have an evening walk as exercise and relieve my brain from the daily stress of work.

But my evening was disrupted when on our way back from the university three men accosted us and two other girls ahead. This happened in a split second. I almost collapsed out of fear, but the urge to fight back engulfed me. I ran off into the middle of the road waving at cars. I then screamed at my sister and the two girls to run towards me. Luckily in the chaos the two muggers then took off on a motorbike.

Lack of peace means fear, anger, anxiety and much more! Maybe the muggers lacked peace and the opportunity to make a decent living. What if a life was lost in this incident? It left me feeling helpless and furious. At the same time I learnt that in a minute, one’s life could change for better or worse. Life is so fragile. It can just be snatched away from you.

I have met the Mizens only twice. Reading Margaret’s book about Jimmy, I feel their family life has a similarity with the peace you can find in our villages in Kenya. Their work to make young people safer and try to intervene before anger, anxiety and fear take hold is what I think peace means.   

You can read the online version of Stories For Jimmy here.

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