As a widow and mother of three children living in Kenya, Mary Oyier works hard in every area of her life – from family to community – to create a world where people not only understand one another, they care for each other in meaningful ways. After losing an investment in a retrenchment settlement as a result of post election violence in 2007, Mary vowed to start a movement that focused on building peace, understanding and trust within communities. ONUG-PWANI, a community based organization, was born and has been leading peace movements in Kenya ever since.
ONUG provides platforms for dialogue, deliberation and critical learning to enhance peaceful co-existence and collaboration with other groups and cultures within communities. To date, in most of the areas where ONUG has partnered with local organizations, communities did not experience any form of violence at the outcome of elections, instead people participated in constructive dialogue.
Mary believes that one of the greatest ways to promote peace among people is to share information. When people shared concerns about local government or issues within the community, she sought to find answers for them. Now, she helps them to understand how to gather information, share with others and move to action.
“When I said never again to post election violence, I knew that information was power and for misinformed persons that can tend to be dangerous. That’s why I love sharing information, knowledge and links that I believe are beneficial. I just feel good when I put a smile on another’s face and help them. To me that’s a great achievement,” said Mary.
It is in the small acts of kindness that Mary finds the greatest strength. For she believes those acts have not only transformed her and helped her to become the person she is, they have allowed her to be seen as a leader. Mary spends much of her time helping people to understand that when you use will power and confidence as your guide, you can accomplish anything.
“When I received $1000 from The Pollination Project, I celebrated and I remember one member stating I was overreacting because she assumed it was $1,000,000 from my screams. To me it was more than a million, for it was my first grant and it was of such great help. It was people believing in me the way I believe in other people,” Mary stated.
In 2018, Mary was celebrated for her exceptional work and crowned Mombasa County Peace Champion by the County Government of Mombasa on Women’s Day. Since that time, Mary has expanded her focus and is working toward both a peaceful world and a healthy environment. She’s sharing valuable information with people about the nutritional value found in plants and believes that every home should have at least Moringa green and Chanca Piedra powders on the table.
“The best thing about my TPP grant is that I got empowered and I met leading Climate Change trainers at 10billion Strong where I gathered more information on climate action. Through the same connection, I am now an Alumni of Auschwitz Institute who happens to have the same slogan as mine – NEVER AGAIN – to injustices. This blended together is enough for me to keep on growing and seeding change,” Mary explained.
As Mary and her team continue their work with heart and dedication, she has a message for the women of the world.
“Women worldwide should not give up. Stay strong. Think of something small you can do, believe in it and you will be surprised what you can accomplish. ”