Kenyans have been urged to embrace counselling and mediation as a way of ensuring that they live peacefully.
Speaking to KNA at the sidelines of the training for local chiefs in Busia on Friday the chairman of the Peer Counselling Association of Kenya Prof. John Mureithi said that the two areas are very important when it comes to the welfare of the community.
“Majority of people are not aware that the court has already entrenched mediation in the Judicial Act and there is availability of those services in the judiciary,” he said, adding that locals should embrace mediation in cases of conflict other than criminal cases.
Prof. Mureithi advised citizens to go to court only after exhausting all avenues of mediation adding that it is faster, cheaper and it restores relationships.
“As you are all aware that there is a backlog of cases in our courts and I want to believe that most of these cases can be solved by people sitting down and solving them out of court,” he said, adding that most of the cases in court have been caused by the rise in stress levels.
He reiterated the need for members of the public to seek counselling services without feeling embarrassed just like they seek medical services when they are sick.
“We are appealing to the public to embrace counselling when they feel stressed and that way their judgment will not be affected,’ he said.
“Going to court is not an answer, it should be the last step after you have tried reconciliation,” he said.
Prof. Mureithi said the Peer Counselling Association is currently partnering with institutions which offer training in counselling to train more counsellors.
“We already have youth being trained here in Busia, we have pastors being trained to be counsellors in almost all the counties so that we have professionals who can offer such services to the public,” he said.
He urged chiefs to refer cases of depression to identified counsellors within their areas of jurisdiction.
“We also urge County governments to train counsellors and create therapy offices near chiefs’ offices so that any time there are issues in the community, the public can have a place to turn to,” he said.
The head of Counselling Services in the Ministry of Interior, Ruth Buluma stated that chiefs who have been trained on mediation will be registered by the judiciary to help as mediators.
“Even when they retire, they still can remain relevant in the community because they will still be discharging justice as mediators,” she said.
The programme has already been conducted in eight counties in Eastern, Nyanza and currently Western and is targeting to reach all the 47 counties.
The forum was organized by the Ministry of Interior in collaboration with the Peer Counselling Association of Kenya.
By Salome Alwanda