Monday, May 16, 2011

Mike Muikia, a young Kenyan who recently came back home after the intensive Action for Life programme, shares his experience and learning during the programme.

Mike Muikia Looking at Frank Buchman’s idea of ‘world changing through life changing’, I am every day finding clarity in the possible ways on how I can positively impact my immediate surrounding by having the ability to identify where urgent action is needed, engaging the right people, creating answers and eventually meeting the world’s needs. Before travelling to Panchgani, the Initiatives of Change centre in India, for Action for Life 5 (AfL5) in October 2010, I was not clear on what initiatives I should be involved with in Kenya, a country still struggling for justice, corrupt-free and tribal-free and now preparing for another political transition. 

The experience of living with people of different cultures and beliefs, sharing from the deepest part of the inner self and working together to inspire change was a turning point in my life. The uncomfortable truth by Gandhi, ‘my life is my message’, was a big struggle for me at the beginning of the programme and I felt everyone was watching me. I therefore decided to be open and transparent with my mentors, fellow participants, friends and the AfL core team. Through this I got a great sense of how my life can be used to make a difference. I learnt that honesty was good but ‘action’ is better. In India I met some people who, in many ways, have given so much to their country without taking anything in return. I was challenged to forgive unconditionally and listen more than I talk. At some point I felt powerless as I slowly discovered that I was a totally different person from the one I thought I was.

Living in Armagh, a community house in Australia, brought another spectacular moment in my journey. This was a home for change-makers. Rob Wood, who works with Initiatives of Change and is based in Armagh, was one of those who mentored me and taught me what service meant. Through him I met other fascinating people who constantly ignited my passion to change my countrymen by living the example. One man, Jim Coulter, said to me that ‘we have a challenge of raising our moral standards as well as our countries.’

In Fiji and Solomon Islands, I came across people who are day by day struggling to do the right thing despite political constraints. By advocating for justice, they have been threatened and others have been maimed. but they still went on helping people to understand how things should be. One lady. Jacky Kalumu from Suva, Fiji, has dedicated her life to giving hope by enlightening women on the role they can play in their country, which is politically undergoing a hard time following the 2006 military coup. She is a visionary woman of the 21st century whose power of thought towards her country is beyond her personal interest.

Living in villages with plenty of natural food like fish and coconut, but rarely having sanitation facilities, gave me an idea of how problems in the remotest parts of Africa’s can be answered. The spirit of sharing and value of community norms and traditions has for a long time united the Solomon Islands. 

Action for Life has given me a unique feeling of love towards my country. The personal growth through deep introspection, honest sharing and using my story to inspire change, is one lifetime experience I will value and live for. Apologizing to a friend whom I stole a thousand shillings from was a big struggle but, following my first action to put things right, I felt relieved of a burden that I had dragged along with me for more than a year. This gave me a clear way to mend relationships, say sorry, forgive and let go of the pride in me.  I now feel that in this troubled world, it is possible to give, listen, engage others in doing what is right and finally create answers.

Now, I am back in my country and there are a lot of things that need to be put right. Having elections next year, I will play a part in the Clean Elections Campaign and in the meantime do Life Matters Course workshops for young people in my hometown. Other projects, such as providing clean water to my people in my village, are also in my thoughts. My sheer gratitude to India, Australia, Fiji and Solomon Island for hosting me and giving me a chance to learn.