... and the Winners are?


Below is the list of the winners of the Unsung Peace Heroes Competition (in alphabetical order) and a short description on their extraordinary actions during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2008:

Alfred Sakwa Sabatia (Eastleigh, Nariobi)

Alfred Sakwa Sabatia Alfred is 23 years and grew up as an orphan. Since 1996 he lived under sponsorship of the St. Teresa's Catholic Church in Eastleigh. He got hurt while bringing a friend's child to school. He decided to help others during the crisis. He took food, clothes, and utensils given by friends, churches and organizations to Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps in Mathare, Air Force and Huruma. He organized peace talks, composed peace songs, verses and plays, started a peace self help group to keep the youth engaged named "High hopes", "The jaws" and "Joapapes", he joined organizations like Eastleigh Youth Network. Currently, he is recording three new peace songs.

Maureen 'MKenya' Auma Obonyo (Kibera-Kisumu Ndogo)

Maureen 'MKenya' Auma ObonyoWhen others were too afraid, 'Maureen Mkenya' went out and helped the weak in Kibera. When Kibera started 'burning' there was a sudden shortage of food. She witnessed the anger and despair from close by. Uzima Foundation received food donations and Maureen distributed food and food vouchers for them to the sick and the old. Maureen hid her Luo identity by calling herself Maureen MKenya. Some people thought she was a Kikuyu and she was beaten up three times for this reason. She furthermore facilitated peace sessions and organized football tournaments and drama festivals.

Joel Cheruiyot Sigei (Bureti)

Joel Cheruiyot Sigei Joel is a 48 year old Kipsigis who hid 18 people, 4 Kisii families, for 2 weeks in his compound. He did this secretly to hide them from the community. He gave them maize from his stock and milk from his two dairy cows. Furthermore, he helped children in an IDP camp by bringing them 40 litres of milk every day. When the violence ended, he arranged transport for the 4 families.

Esther Wanza Muisu

Esther is 42 years old of the Akamba tribe and married to her husband of the Agikuyu tribe. During the period December 28th - January 15th she helped people with food and shelter, a total of 25 people slept overnight at her place. "I know what it means to lose so I had to everything I could to help others," says Esther.

Ann Wangari 'Mugeci Damiano' (Kasarani, Nairobi)

Ann Wangari 'Mugeci Damiano' Next to her own three children Ann (39) takes care of 15 orphans in the age 6 to 15 years. During the post-election period she went to Muranga district and found 59 children from a burned children's homes, children from Molo and Narok who needed help, she chose the youngest and brought them to her home in Kasarani. One is Luo and the rest are Kikuyu. All children are now in school. She receives support from friends, church and family.

Family Pabari (Kisumu and Nairobi)

Family Pabari (Kisumu and Nairobi)This Asian family has been active in charity work for twenty years. During the post election violence they paid for transport for Kikuyus and Kisii who fled Kisumu. They assisted Luos who returned to Kisumu area with food, seeds, farming equipment and medical support. Mrs. Pabari is the driving force behind their charity work, especially through her organization 'Ladies in Action' supporting orphans and elders. Mr. Pabari retired in 2007 and dedicated his time to charity. Son Dipesh Pabari and his wife Elodie Yard actively support their parents and raise online funds for GBP 5,000 through their organization Sukuma Kenya during the post-election violence.

Kamakei 'Freddy' Ole Sangiriaki (Narok)

Kamakei 'Freddy' Ole Sangiriaki Freddy is a 28 years old Maasai who wanted to protect his Kikuyu friend from an angry group of Maasais looking for 'enemies'. He got beaten up and decided that this could not be accepted. He and his neighbor friends formed a group called 'Kenyan Initiative - by Kenyans for Kenyans' consisting of mostly Maasai together with Kikuyu, Kisii and Luo men. They went out at night to follow and find the angry mob. By talking to them they convinced them to stop the violence and killing after one week. As they went around Narok area, other groups copied their example and set up similar 'peacekeeping groups'. As a result, (Freddy claims) the violence ended much sooner in Narok area than in the rest of the country.

Paul Omukaya Ayodi (Kawangware, Nariobi)

Paul Omukaya Ayodi This 39 years old pastor took immediate action after the election violence broke loose. He took orphans and people who lost their homes to a school for shelter. He helped a total of 20 families of which 5 families are still supported by him, mostly with contributions through the church. One family is Luo, two Kikuyu families, some Luhya and other tribes. Every day he works in a bar in Nairobi from 3pm to late and the rest of his time he dedicates to charity.

Kenyan heroes are ordinary people who did extraordinary things. They saw a human in danger and didn't care from which tribe or community her or she was. When everyone around them told them to accept the status quo of blood and brutality, these Kenyan heroes chose to listen to their internal voices. These are the heroes this initiative seeks to recognize. We wish these people can form role models in the Kenyan society of today.

The jury did a great job in selecting these 8 heroes, knowing that all nominees are heroes in their own right. The jury consisted of:

Sharad Rao (chair) - Legal advisor, former Director of Public Prosecutions
Dekha Ibrahim - Respected Peace Maker
Mildred Awiti - Former Kenyan Model and Corporate Trainer
Yasvin Shretta - Lawyer and former Kenyan Lawn Tennis Champion
Elizabeth Mwangi - HR consultant, experienced the post-election violence first hand

the peace heroesFrom left to right - top to bottom: Sharad Rao (chair of the jury), Elizabeth Mwangi (juror), Mr. Pabari (peace hero), Kamakei Ole Sangiriaki (peace hero), Alfred Sakwa Sabatia (peace hero), Mildred Awiti (juror), Ms. Pabari (peace hero), Joel Cheruiyot Sigei (peace hero), Ann Wangari (peace hero), Paul Omukaya Ayodi (peace hero), Yashvin Shretta (juror)
Bottom row: Dipesh Pabari (peace hero), Elodie Yard (peace hero) and their daughter, Maureen Auma Obonyo (peace hero), Mime Pabari (peace hero)

The criteria the jury used were; Does the project or action contribute to social cohesion in the community? Was it a courageous action; did someone act against all odds? What was the overall impact of the activity? Did the activity contribute to positive change? Is or can this hero be an example to others? Where did the action take place? The jury selected heroes from the various conflict area's.

On February 26th 2009 a prize giving event was organized for the peace heroes. They received a certificate and a money prize of 30,000/=. The Kenyan media was invited to the cover the event. Furthermore, the 8 stories of the eight hero's will be published in the The Standard newspaper in Kenya on March 6th 2009.

ButterflyWorks   Media Focus on Africa Nairobits

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