North Kenyan football project presented at Geneva Peace Talks 201320 September 2013
Geneva, (UNOSP) - On the eve of the 2013 Geneva Peace talks (19th September), it was the UNOSDP’s pleasure to welcome and exchange experiences with one of the guest speakers, Ms Fatuma Abdulkadir Adan. She overcame the barriers and prejudices in her country to implement her very own sports project, HODI (Horn of Africa Development Initiative).
Having spent most of her life in northern Kenya, she grew up with her mother and local high school teacher father. Fatuma is one of the few north Kenyan girls who went on too further education completing a law diploma at Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya.
Fatuma was raised in a considerably unique family, her mother and father originated from two warring tribes, that are currently still at war in northern Kenya. From this unique relationship, Fatuma gained valuable experience, and a deep sensitivity to the variety of social issues affecting her region.
For several years now, northern Kenya has been facing perpetual conflicts raised by the coexistence of different tribes, the lack of food, the presence of armed rebels, and the silence of the political powers. In response to that, Fatuma decided to focus on childhood development and provide them with programs that use football as a tool for development and peace. Despite social clashes and ongoing conflicts, she has devoted her life to HODI, promoting the ideals of development and peace, leading to positive and sustainable social change.
HODI started in 2003 in Marsabit, Fatuma’s hometown. She implemented a reflective program called “Shoot to score, not to kill”, where boys and girls from different tribes take part in football training. The objective is to get boys and girls off the streets and away from their unavoidable destiny and participate in sport. To prevent violence, a very common behavior amongst these boys, Fatuma and her team created a set of fair play and peace cards, a green card representing fair play for each player, and white highlighting peaceful team play. This innovative method has been met with positive reactions from players who encourage team mates to play fairly and peacefully.
“In my village the children are so used to celebrating violence, that through the introduction of the green and white card, finally fair and peaceful play can be rejoiced.” explains HODI founder Fatuma Adan.
Another characteristic of her football programme, is that at least three different tribes must be represented in each team (Teams of 7). This is an essential feature of this programme to encourage the cooperation and the teamwork between tribes. So far, the programme has been successful in gathering 248 teams, with 36 girl teams in different villages.
Fatuma Adan’s peace building programme is a big step in educating the youth to foster harmony and cohesion in northern Kenya. This is what Fatuma calls “breaking silence using football”. She wants these kids to have a voice, and the choices she had. They are the future, and they are even “teaching the parents about peaceful social coexistence”.
Fatuma closed her speech at the 2013 Geneva Peace talks with the following words:
“Peace is like an egg, if you don’t nurture it, it can easily break”.
You can find Fatumas presentation from the 5th minute onwards (5.00- 13.03).