• Several Somali youth crowd around U.S. Air Force Capt. Walid Habash following a meeting with 37 Somalian young adults May 3. Habash, a Muslim chaplain, traveled with two other military chaplains to represent an interfaith delegation meeting with community leaders during a trip across several countries in East Africa.

    U.S. military chaplains visit East African leaders

    Several Somali youth crowd around U.S. Air Force Capt. Walid Habash following a meeting with 37 Somalian young adults May 3. Habash, a Muslim chaplain, traveled with two other military chaplains to represent an interfaith delegation meeting with...

  • (Left to right) U.S. Navy Capt. Rob Young, U.S. Air Force Capt. Walid Habash and Lt. Col. Gary Snyder listen to one of 37 Somali youth as they present their concerns for the future of their country during a meeting May 3. The Muslim and Christian military chaplains visited community leaders during a trip across several countries in East Africa.

    U.S. military chaplains visit East African leaders

    (Left to right) U.S. Navy Capt. Rob Young, U.S. Air Force Capt. Walid Habash and Lt. Col. Gary Snyder listen to one of 37 Somali youth as they present their concerns for the future of their country during a meeting May 3. The Muslim and Christian...

  • Capt. Walid Habash, a U.S. Air Force Muslim chaplain, leads a sunset prayer for several Muslim Djiboutians who work on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 24. He arrived that morning in preparation of several planned religious leadership engagement throughout countries in East Africa.

    U.S. military chaplains visit East African leaders

    Capt. Walid Habash, a U.S. Air Force Muslim chaplain, leads a sunset prayer for several Muslim Djiboutians who work on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 24. He arrived that morning in preparation of several planned religious leadership engagement...

  • U.S. Air Force chaplains, Capt. Walid Habash (left) and Lt. Col. Gary Snyder (center), greet U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Marion Cavanaugh while visiting the Dire Dawa Civil Affairs Team in Ethiopia May 5. The team members assisted the chaplains with meeting several leaders in the local area.

    U.S. military chaplains visit East African leaders

    U.S. Air Force chaplains, Capt. Walid Habash (left) and Lt. Col. Gary Snyder (center), greet U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Marion Cavanaugh while visiting the Dire Dawa Civil Affairs Team in Ethiopia May 5. The team members assisted the chaplains with meeting...

  • Children of Shumba Mjini Village gather to meet Chaplain Walid Habash during his visit April 29. Habash, a U.S. Air Force captain, traveled throughout East Africa to strengthen relationships between the U.S government and Muslim communities.

    U.S. military chaplains visit East African leaders

    Children of Shumba Mjini Village gather to meet Chaplain Walid Habash during his visit April 29. Habash, a U.S. Air Force captain, traveled throughout East Africa to strengthen relationships between the U.S government and Muslim communities.

  • Sheikh Ali Mataan (left) speaks with Muslim chaplain Walid Habash following a meeting between several Somali Imams and U.S. military chaplains at a restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya, May 2. Imam Habash, a U.S. Air Force captain, traveled throughout East Africa to strengthen relationships between the U.S government and Muslim communities.

    U.S. military chaplains visit East African leaders

    Sheikh Ali Mataan (left) speaks with Muslim chaplain Walid Habash following a meeting between several Somali Imams and U.S. military chaplains at a restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya, May 2. Imam Habash, a U.S. Air Force captain, traveled throughout East...

  • U.S. Air Force Muslim Chaplain (Capt.) Walid Habash is interviewed by Radio Reporter Ahmed Abdi Walieh and Journalist Rahma Mohamed Omar April 26. Imam Habash visited with several community and religious leaders during a trip across several countries in East Africa.

    U.S. military chaplains visit East African leaders

    U.S. Air Force Muslim Chaplain (Capt.) Walid Habash is interviewed by Radio Reporter Ahmed Abdi Walieh and Journalist Rahma Mohamed Omar April 26. Imam Habash visited with several community and religious leaders during a trip across several countries...

NAIROBI, Kenya- Imam Walid Habash, a Muslim chaplain for the U.S. Air Force, joined other military chaplains for a recent trip to strengthen relationships between the American people and Muslim communities in East Africa.

U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Gary Snyder, U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Habash, U.S. Navy Chaplain (Capt.) Robert Young and U.S. Army Chaplain (Col.) David Colwell met African community, religious and government leaders in four countries during the 13-day trip.

The interfaith delegation quickly found that they demonstrated a first for many in their audience - how people, of more than one religion, can live and work together peacefully anywhere.

"Everywhere we went, I was told that it was the first time they had seen a Christian and Muslim sitting together peacefully during a meal, religious discussion or any event," said Habash, who is an Islamic chaplain for the 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. "That alone started discussions about the possibilities for diverse people living together peacefully."

During a lunch with five Somali Imams, the chaplains' respect for each others' views and their ability to work closely together quickly led the discussion in the direction of how to foster peace, respect and understanding.

The chaplains also had an opportunity to exchange ideas for a peaceful future with a number of tomorrow's younger leaders. Thirty seven Somali youth attended a meeting in Eastleigh, Nairobi, to discuss the challenges they face in reaching a peaceful future through education and economic opportunities.

One student named Mohamed stood up to speak about the youth of Somali as "raw material that can be turned into any product" and that all they lacked were opportunities to become useful products for the future of Somalia.

"Early on I could already see a huge impact whether we are connecting with key leaders or the average person," Habash said. "I think we are going a long way to building bridges [between our respective nations]."

The chaplains met with more than 200 leaders during the trip. They traveled to diverse communities including the remote village of Micheweni on Pemba Island, Tanzania, held a religious leader conference in Moroni, Comoros, and visited community centers in Dire Dawa and Harar, Ethiopia.

At every engagement, the chaplains were invited to return as an interfaith model for future opportunities to discuss and promote peace and stability in the Eastern African region.

Page last updated Fri May 21st, 2010 at 13:11