By Sarah Ooko, World Vision Senior Communications and Media Specialist, Kenya
Sounds of joyful singing and vigorous dancing fill the air at one of the church compounds in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya.
Children are gathered outside, singing their hearts out as they sway to the tunes of their favourite gospel songs.
These children are members of community bible clubs that World Vision in partnership with faith leaders is supporting at the camp through its Every Last One-Transformed Churches for Transformed Community (ELO-TCT) project.
The bible club meetings take place during the evenings, weekends or holidays when children are back home from school.
"They are enhancing the spiritual nurture of children and empowering them to be instruments of peace in their community," says Millicent, the faith and development specialist for the ELO-TCT project at Kakuma Refugee Camp.
The bible clubs have become valuable as they are bringing down the walls of segregation, hate and suspicion existing among different communities, which usually lead to conflict as well as violence among people of different cultures and nationalities at the Kakuma Refugee Camp.
"When we sing and pray together, we are like brothers and sisters, united by the love of God, our Father in heaven. So, we understand that we need to be united and live together in harmony," says 17-year-old Atomi.
Going by the teachings of Jesus Christ, which promote love and forgiveness, she notes that they have learnt to be more understanding and less judgemental of other people.
"This has helped us to stop having unnecessary fights and misunderstanding as children in this community. When there is a problem, we find ways of solving it peacefully among ourselves as well as seeking help from our parents and teachers," says Atomi.
Isaac, a parent whose children are among the many that are attending the community bible clubs notes that the sessions have saved children in the community from engaging in crime and other risky behaviours.
"Children are now very obedient. During their free time they participate in the bible club activities instead of staying idle and being tempted to start smoking, indulge in alcohol or be lured into crime," he says.
Isaac notes that the clubs have also built the confidence of children and inspired them to make a difference in the world.
"My children can now pray on their own, open up when something is troubling them and speak boldly about the importance of peace among fellow children and even adults," he says.
Sixteen-year-old Rejoice, one of the children who is an active member of the bible clubs notes that the songs they sing and bible verses they recite, have strengthened her faith and belief in God's love.
"I used to get really stressed and would have no peace whenever I encountered a problem or when things were not going as expected. But now I know that God is always in control so there is no need to worry," she says.
This strong faith has been helping her and other children to remain hopeful, amidst life disruptions and societal challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Arakuba, who is one of the community bible club teachers states that the initiative is transforming the lives of children.
"We are reaching out to them because God's message is for everyone and we should not just have programmes for adults. Remember that the promise of salvation was not given with an age limit. It is for everyone."