Experts Explain How Mentorship Helps Counter Violent Extremism in Kenya

Greg Schira, Mentorship Manager at RUSI's STRIVE programme in Kenya, discusses how mentoring programmes are helping young people from being drawn to violent extremism in the country.

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As part of the EU-funded STRIVE programme facilitated by RUSI, more than 200 at-risk youth from urban communities in Kenya are being mentored in life skills to reduce the risk of radicalisation and prevent them being drawn into violent extremism 

The mentors are volunteers from the same neighbourhoods as the youths they support. After receiving training they lead 1-2-1 meetings and small group discussions, and seek to improve critical thinking, self awareness and self esteem amongst select at-risk youth.

The absence of purpose, belonging and meaning have been shown to be amongst the factors that drive at-risk young people towards violent extremism. Peer support seeks to change those factors and model values such as tolerance, respect and forgiveness. Mentorship is a part of a broader CVE programme in Kenya which seeks to measure impact of a number of interventions through a process of learning by doing.

Youths who are selected to become mentees in the programme are from the poorer neighbourhoods of Nairobi and Mombasa. A referral system, involving teachers, parents and social workers, identifies and assesses youths for mentorship. 

Speaking in June this year at the European Development Days in Brussels, Kamilo Mohammed, the Lead Mentor in Nairobi, and Greg Schira, the STRIVE Mentorship Manager explain more how life mentorship can help counter violent extremism. 

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