knls Kibera Library Develops a Peace initiative to promote Peaceful Coexistence

Kibera library is one of the 60 branches of knls network in Kenya. The library is situated in one of the most densely populated informal settlement areas in Nairobi and was opened in the year 2012. The library has 7 staff who are assigned to work in two main sections i.e. Junior and Adult. The library provides the following services: tablet hour program, registration of members, lending, user education, outreach to primary schools, special programs i.e. mentorship for pupils, tinga-tinga services, talent shows, language programs through book clubs, tablet clubs, storytelling sessions, debates, spelling bees, public speaking, and reading culture promotional workshops to teachers, students and the community. The library provides a cohesiveness programme using tablets and computers. The programme branded as 'Kibera Library Peace Ambassadors' was started after 2012/2013 elections to promote long lasting peace and harmonius co-existence. This library chose to use children and youth through educative approach since they are the next generation. 

The initiation of the program was inspired by the need to promote peace after dissatisfaction that arose after the general elections. Children and youth are always caught in the middle since under most they are not involved in the voting exercise. The literacy levels in the slum are low, a factor that has led to many youth being involved in crime. The peace initiative aims at contributing towards reduction in the rate of violence and crimes through training youth on how to use tablets and computers. The library has played a big role in promoting cohesiveness within the slum.

The programme started in April 2014 when the library realized that the slum consist of more than 20 ethnic groups. The librarian got concerned after realizing that school children group themselves in their ethnic origins when they come to the library. Mostly, during the tablet lessons they didn’t want to be mixed with others who were not from their ethnic origin.. The knls Kibera Library uses the tablet and computers to educate the children and the youth on peace building cohesion and conflict resolution. The library has wi-fi connectivity that helps the youth and children to search for information from various websites with the help of librarians. They also get in touch with various agencies that promote peace in Kenya. The youth get social media trainings and workshops which are organized for them on cohesion and peace building. The children trainings blends well with the school curriculum because they touches on basic units of social studies a subject which is examinable in Kenya certificate of primary education.

The librarians conducts the trainings in collaboration with organizations such as Amani Kenya, Action for people in conflict and Africa peace initiative whose objective is to train people on peace building. The organizations also provide information materials. The tablets and computers are used to search for more information and show videos. Participants also acquire skills on ICT and civic education. The ICT skills help them to browse and search for answers to question online. The youth also learn to search for jobs online, CV writing, networking among others. Among the ambassadors the library has assigned them different regions.

Participants are able to access details on democracy, peace building, good governance and effects of lawlessness in the society. The youth are now proud of the trainings because the programme gives them a platform to share experiences, ideas and interact in open forums. They own the programme since it has shaped lives and enhance good relationships among the children, youth and community at large.

 

One of the residents of Kibera slum by the name Linet said, “I have realized that whenever there are chaos in Kibera at the end of the day the common man and especially the children and the youth are the ones who suffers. Mostly, the youth are used to cause chaos. I will never be involved’’.

 

The people’s lives have changed because the library has transformed their way of thinking and they are living in harmony. They always come to the library to seek for information from the tablets and computers.

 

The program has achieved its major goals of disseminating computer skills, utilizing e-resources to enhance peace, being innovative, able to interact with the tablets and creating awareness of knls Kibera library to the entire slum community. The success of the program serves as a model for implementation of e-resources in other libraries hence assist the children and the youth to concentrate, be motivated and enhance their social interaction and intellectual skills.