Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Maendeleo kwa vijana: Youth Development for Peace

Project #
Harvard College
  • Jonathan Kosgei

Maendeleo kwa vijana: Youth Development for Peace

The lack of formal education and limited technical skills leaves many young Kenyans vulnerable. As a result, Jonathan Kosgei writes, many girls “end up taking jobs such as brewing of illegal liquor and prostitution,” while boys often get involved in criminal activities, political violence, even terror organizations. Jonathan’s project aimed to train young people, instead, how to grow and market agricultural products through a pilot project, with peer support and expert coaching.

In Kesses, a large town in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley where families often own farmable land, Jonathan, who grew up in rural Kenya, recruited 27 participants whose ages ranged from 17 to 26. The program’s early sessions included team- and trustbuilding exercises, plus soccer games, to encourage participants to see past their tribal affiliations, political enmities, and skepticism that small-scale farming could succeed. Participants were encouraged to plant commercially viable crops, such as salable produce, on land their families owned. Once they were well-launched on growing crops that promised a good harvest, the group tackled challenges around marketing and distribution.

Jonathan decided to buy a motorcycle taxi, so that produce and other crops could be delivered fresh to buyers such as area schools. Making the purchase was a difficult decision, but “it turned out to be a saver,” he writes, as the new farmers became more serious and motivated about continuing their enterprises.