|Law student works for peace in Kenya|
|By RITA POLIAKOV, Staff Reporter|
|Thursday, 12 August 2010|
|Adam Hummel is trying to change the world, one soccer tournament at a time. Hummel, a University of Windsor law school student, is the founder of Youth Ambassadors for Peace, a grassroots group that aims to unite three Kenyan tribes through workshops and soccer tournaments.
Adam Hummel, 25, started up several initiatives to promote peace in Kenya, including a soccer tournament that brought together players from several tribes.
Hummel, 25, who was born in South Africa, has always had clear goals.
“It sounds cheesy, but whenever anyone asks me what I want to do, I say, ‘I want to make peace in the Middle East,’” he said.
But, on a summer trip to Kenya, Hummel saw the opportunity to create a different sort of peace.
Several summers ago, Hummel volunteered with a small organization in Africa dedicated to forging peace on the continent. When he arrived in Kiptere, a village in Kenya, he realized that, apart from someone from Japan who spoke no English, he was the only volunteer.
“When I got there, I asked where the other volunteers were. They said, ‘This is it.’ I panicked for the first couple hours,” he said.
But Hummel enjoyed the trip, in which he toured the area with some locals from Nairobi and learned about the civil war that broke out after the December 2007 general election in Kenya, which left about 1,300 people dead.
“What I ended up doing (on that trip) was being able to forge relationships over there, to make some good contacts,” he said. “At the end of the trip, I thought, ‘Maybe I can do my own thing here.’”
So before he left, Hummel came up with the idea of a soccer tournament. But instead of organizing it himself, he gave the job to local young people.
“The one thing I saw which really stuck out (in Kenya) when I was there, especially in these little rural communities, was that idleness is a big problem. Youths don’t always have anything to do,” he said.
“As a result, they turn to drugs and alcohol. I tried to get a few youths who weren’t doing anything to take charge of this tournament,” Hummel said, adding that he funded the initiative out of his own pocket.
In May of 2009, Hummel returned to Africa, this time with a larger goal.
“I decided I wanted to make (a soccer) tournament about the peace project,” he said, adding that its goal was to unite young people from the three tribes that fought against each other in the civil war – the Kalenjin, Kisii and Luo tribes.
“That tournament in particular was to bring together youths who were not willing to step up and take leadership positions, but were passionate about sports, and to get them to participate with people in other tribes, to get them to play together to show they’re all the same,” he said.
The tournament, which ran over two weekends and attracted about 2,000 spectators, was only part of Hummel’s initiative. While in Kenya, he also ran a workshop that brought together 25 young people, aged 16 to 30, from the three tribes. The workshop, which was run with the help of Courtney Toretto, a friend of Hummel’s, was where the Youth Ambassadors for Peace was created.
“They were charged with being ambassadors to their own communities and to break this idea of tribalism,” he said.
At the end of the workshop about peace, shared values and the civil war, Hummel helped the participants draft a peace treaty. This group still exists in Kenya and is committed to encouraging peace throughout its members’ communities.
Right now, with the help of donations from friends and family, Hummel is helping Kenyans lead their own initiatives, most of which they have named after him.
The initiatives include the High School Peace Club, where youth ambassadors travel to schools to speak about the dangers of tribalism and racism and set up peace clubs, and Adam’s Poultry Project.
“The last time I sent (the youth ambassadors) money, basically they had a bit of extra money,” Hummel said. The group used that money to buy chickens and gave out their eggs to villagers living with HIV/AIDS.
“Eggs are really expensive there. These people don’t have anything at all… and chickens are so cheap,” Hummel said.
Hummel’s next goal is to take Canadian students and help them facilitate similar workshops in Kenya. He has been in talks with the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students about this project and his organization.
Noah Kochman, the CFJS’s adviser for communications and government relations, is impressed with Hummel’s projects.
“We’re definitely still looking to see how we can get engaged in the project. Adam has already done some amazing things, including education in villages and bringing students together to play soccer games,” Kochman said.
“It’s one thing to have politicians stand up for peace. Yet the key is to have young people, the next generation, believing it. (That’s) what Adam is doing.”
For more information, visit www.kenyapeaceproject.com.