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Knitting, painting, writing—shut your noisy mind down and allow your hands to take over ~Michelle Obama

The award ceremony on December 7th, 2023, was truly something else – a fancy affair in this classy venue all decked out to celebrate the winners of the 2023 Spear of African Peace Essay Contest. So, what's this contest all about? It's an annual writing showdown, advancing Sustainable Development Goal 3, with a special nod to refugees. We give them a stage to pour their hearts out, share stories, passions, and dreams for the future. We want refugees to connect, swap stories, and feel empowered. Our intention is to challenge conventional models of support for refugees.

Nairobi hosted the 2023 shindig, pulling in people from Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia, Congo – you name it. Our VIP guests rocked some serious glam – everyone looking sharp. The event wasn't just about awards; it was a mix of entertainment and some real talk. Madam Christine Naishorua, a solid psychologist from Windle Trust Kenya, was there from the get-go, always ready to lend a hand. Harun Mwadena Muyesi, the jack-of-all-trades behind the Network of Grassroot Organizations and Movements, brought his A-game. Rutere Njeru, our friend and a mental health ambassador and Psychological First Aider, also joined in on the tech and storytelling chat about healing, hope, and resilience. Christine Karanja kept the convo smooth as the moderator.

The stage? Oh, it was a feast for the eyes, with a setup that'd make you go "wow" and a backdrop screaming of importance. Awards went out like clockwork to the deserving Yar Malel, Mamuch Bey, Tasneem Alhaj, Karauna Mwai, Sudi Omar Noor, and Merveille – in that order. These six stood out from 124 entries from East Africa and four of them managed to join us for two days in Nairobi.  The whole event oozed unity and celebration, bringing a bunch of different stakeholders together to toast to excellence.

As Michelle Obama wisely put it, "Knitting, painting, writing—shut your noisy mind down and allow your hands to take over." Writing was our weapon of choice to paint some real pictures with words. 

The dinner? Gourmet vibes all around, catering to even the pickiest eaters. Networking opportunities were everywhere, letting leaders, creatives, and enthusiasts connect, mixing art and passion. The ceremony nailed the vibe of December 7, mixing history with timelessness. And as everyone left, they carried memories of a perfect celebration that stamped The Spear of African Peace as an organization worth remembering.

Thinking about the next ceremony? Theme and location are still up in the air. Any suggestions? We're all ears. Be a partner and stand a chance to sponsor our next competition and event. Reach out however you can and help us keep the mission alive.

~By Sarah Kuony. The communication and Research officer.

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