The winners — from Syria, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo — were announced at the Alliance for Peacebuilding annual conference, PeaceCon, on 3 October in Washington, D.C. Each received a $10,000 grant to contribute to their work.
“We’re happy to highlight and support the work of these local peacebuilders, because they know best how to tackle problems in their communities. The leaders of these three organizations are providing practical and creative solutions, and directly improving people’s lives,” said Peace Direct CEO Dylan Mathews.
Youth for Homeland, founded in 2014, works in rural areas of Yemen to engage communities in peacebuilding efforts, working mainly with young people to develop skills and find alternatives to violence. For example, when one community was fighting over limited water resources, the organization helped establish reservoirs to contain water over longer periods.
The organization plans to use the award to train more peacebuilders. “The main objective is to rehabilitate young people to become peace ambassadors and urge their colleagues and friends to not participate in the war anymore, so that we can contribute to the end of the war in Yemen,” said Abdullah al-Suraihi, founder of Youth for Homeland.
Many children in Syria have known nothing but war. Three women, two of whom are artists, founded Open Art Space in the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2016. Their work connects children and young people inside and outside of Syria through peacebuilding.
Children participate in free weekly workshops, which offer a safe space to play and connect with one another, a chance to express themselves, and a way to learn about peace through art. To reach children more widely, the women created a website where children anywhere in Syria can practice drawing and art exercises to help process the violence they have experienced.
For co-founder Roula al-Khatib, this award enables the organization to “reach out to more Syrian children affected by the war in remote places to implement art and peace in their daily life. This is an opportunity for us to tell the world that despite the sad war in Syria, there are many people who are working very hard to retain peace back.”
The Amani Institute, founded in 2016 in North Kivu, DR Congo, uses theater to help young ex-combatants process trauma they have experienced and reintegrate into their communities. The technique of theater enables former fighters to interact with others, and acts as a springboard for dialogue, reconciliation and tolerance.
“This is an acknowledgement that our effort in the Democratic Republic of Congo is being recognized internationally,” said Joseph Tsongo, founder of the Amani Institute. “It will help us continue our work for the next generation and bring peace to the country.”
We celebrate this year’s winners, and all peacebuilding efforts taking place around the world.
We thank our sponsors: the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Away, the Bluegrass Ambassadors, the Pickwell Foundation and Humanity United for supporting this year’s awards and award ceremony.
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