Fred Nyabera, the Director of Arigatou International’s Interfaith Initiative to End Child Poverty, begun the 2018 Youth In Action by welcoming all participants and encouraging them to take advantage of this opportunity to learn from each other. Remarking on the theme of the forum, “Media and Preventing Violent Extremism”, Rev. Nyabera stated that,
The media is like a double edge sword which can be used for good or bad.
The value of social media depends on who is using it. He stated, “Social media is a neutral communication platform that can be used for good or for bad.” In as much as many believe that the social media is bad, the social media can be used positively to counter, prevent and transform violent extremism and build peace. Rev. Nyabera concluded his remarks by challenging young people to use the tools available to them, to change the status quo in the Great Lakes and East African Region by building peace.
Mr. Richard Rowe, the Executive Director of the Opening Learning Institute, argued, “Technology is just like a hammer; you can build things using a hammer and you can also destroy things using a hammer; it depends how you use it. Let us build and create safe spaces for our children and youth to live in.” Richard encouraged the youth leaders to initiate programs in their communities that will bring meaning to the lives of many and in the process reduces the chances of youth radicalization.
Shk. Ibrahim Lethome, the Secretary General of the Centre for Sustainable Conflict Resolution (CSCR), further debunked the common perception that radicalisation is a religious phenomenon. He argued that radicalisation is not limited to any particular community, political party, religion or individuals. He reiterated that the process is nonlinear, highly individualized and very unpredictable. Shk. Lethome noted that indeed, media can be used in this process of radicalizing an individual towards violent extremism.
Youth In Action 2018 is the 3rd Regional Youth Forum on Peacebuilding organised by Arigatou International—Nairobi (AI—N) and the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), held from 3rd – 7th September 2018, in Machakos County, Kenya. The forum seeks to catalyse and empower young leaders (youth, youth influencers and young adults) towards peace building and conflict transformation. Youth In Action presents opportunity for dialogue, reflection, action planning, shared learning, exchange visits and networking, among young leaders from 12 countries in the Horn and Eastern Africa region. The existence of peace in the region consequently ensures a region that children and the wider society will live free of poverty and violence against children.