Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Meet this 26-year-old Kisumu girl who eats, breathes and sleeps peace

At 26, any typical young Kenyan would be focusing on shaping their career paths.

But that is not the case for Grace Orao.

Her dreams are bigger, and her focus is wider.

Her daily meal is dreaming of a peaceful society.

When peace lacks, the young people suffer more

Grace Orao

“When peace lacks, the young people suffer more,” she says.

When Lake Region Bulletin caught up with her, Ms Orao was working on a peace building concept ahead of the forthcoming polls.

In less than two months, Kenyans will be facing the ballot.

Signed peace commitment during a past WOVOP event.

Kisumu violence

Kisumu is one area which has been synonymous to political violence.

A mention of Kondele, Obunga or Manyatta elicits a picture of smoke and burning tires.

But Ms Orao wants to change this picture.

She is the Executive Director of the Women Volunteers for Peace (WOVOP).

This is a Community Based Organization that focuses on building the resilience of women through peace initiatives among other interventions.

I saw these things as a small girl and also an adult and I asked myself what I could do to ensure those younger than me do not have to grow into the same culture and vicious circle. That was the birth of WOVOP

Ms Orao

Ms Orao is famously known for her peace work in the greater Lake Basin region.

Here, she hosts PEACE TALKS, a Monthly program that facilitates dialogue amongst the  young people.

She facilitates women in identifying challenges and risks that undermine peace and security in their villages.

She places the women at the apex in playing a critical role in identifying, mitigating and responding to conflicts in the community.

WOVOP volunteers pose for a photo during a past event.

Women voices

This provides an opportunity for uplifting their voices to be active participants in the prevention and peace building in the seven sub counties of Kisumu County.

“Together with other like minded Kenyans, we just said we had had enough of violence as women and made a decision to do something about it,” she said.

Through her efforts under WOVOP, there have been several initiatives targeting residents of Kisumu and the region to shrug of the tag of political violence.

I have a duty to ensure women and girls are safe regardless of the political period prevailing be it in Kenya or any country in Africa

Ms Orao

She says her passion for peace was driven by the frequent violence circles witnessed in every electioneering period.

“I saw these things as a small girl and also an adult and I asked myself what I could do to ensure those younger than me do not have to grow into the same culture and vicious circle. That was the birth of WOVOP,” she said.

Today, Kisumu and the region is enjoying relative peace in an unprecedented manner and many players are hoping it would remain so even after the August 9, elections.

Plan International’s Nancy Okoth (left) congratulates Grace Orao during a past event.

Feted

Ms Orao has been feted severally in recognition for her efforts in peace building and working with women.

She is a young women mediation ambassador and was recently certified as trainer of trainers on negotiation and mediation by Clingenadel Netherlands Institute of International Relations.

As part of some of her achievements, she was awarded a certificate of excellence as Top 15 young girls with innovative Covid-19 response ideas globally by GIRLRISING GLOBAL CAMPAIGN in 2020.

She was also named and awarded among top 25 under 25 young women creative feminists in Africa and Diaspora under SAUTI BLOG by Africa onion, office of youth envoy 2020.

“I have a duty to ensure women and girls are safe regardless of the political period prevailing be it in Kenya or any country in Africa,” she notes.

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