The Kusafiri query

Kusafiri is the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts’ (WAGGGS) ‘Fifth’ World Centre for the Africa Region. But where is it? Well, that depends...

Helen Beecher Bryant
13 Oct 2015

If you've ever learnt anything about WAGGGS, you'll be familiar with the four World Centres of guiding

There's Pax Lodge in the UK, Our Chalet in Switzerland, Our Cabaña in Mexico and Sangam in India. Members of WAGGGS' 146 member organisations can visit any of them and take part in all sorts of programmes, community initiatives and more, for both long-term and short term visits.

These four places are all location-specific centres - actual buildings, made of bricks and mortar.

Kusafiri is different

Africa is the fastest growing WAGGGS Region and has experienced massive growth in recent years. Yet there has never been a World Centre in Africa - all the World Centres are thousands of miles away from the continent. Travel costs are often prohibitive, plus the complications associated with securing visas mean that a World Centre experience is out of reach for many.

The idea of the Fifth World Centre was to challenge the concept of what a ‘World Centre’ is. Instead of sourcing a location, the Fifth World Centre evolved in a series of locations in Africa, over a five-year period, making use of existing facilities, such as community centres, conference venues and hotels.

A series of events were organised across the African continent, each event around a different theme - a community development initiative in Kenya, a funding development event in Nigeria, plus events in Ghana, Benin and South Africa. Each event was geared to a different audience and they were open variously to all WAGGGS organisations or just those in Africa Region.

I attended a Fifth World Centre pilot event in Rwanda

The event took the form of a Stop the Violence conference, where participants from over thirty countries across Africa and beyond gathered to learn about WAGGGS’ Stop the Violence curriculum.

The Girl Guides of Rwanda are an inspirational organisation. In 1994, there was a genocide in Rwanda and over a million people lost their lives. You can read more about this in the event blog. Less than 20 years later, Girl Guides of Rwanda became a thriving, rapidly developing organisation which works in partnership with various NGOs to support community groups, such as women affected by violence.

At the WAGGGS World Conference in Hong Kong in 2014, which I attended as part of the UK delegation, the Fifth World Centre concept was accepted and it is now becoming a reality - meaning that Africa now has a World Centre!

There was much discussion and speculation as to what the Fifth World Centre would be called. A countdown took place on social media and the name was announced on October 10 - 'Kusafiri', meaning 'to go on a journey' in Swahili.  This reflects exactly what a World Centre is - a place of self-discovery, of friendship and adventure, and embracing new experiences.

So there we have it - The Kusafiri query - let's go on a journey.

Want to know more?

Visit the WAGGGS’ website to learn more about Kusafiri and the other World Centres.