Harriet Adong, peacebuilder and Executive Director of FIRD, shares her experience of receiving the Digital Inclusion funding. Here, she explains how the grant has helped to make an impact.
“Before this grant we worried about continuing our peacebuilding work given that we are a post conflict community. Our worry was what would happen if no one reached out to those in need. When COVID-19 happened, our phones were ringing like never before. Women and children under attack, cases of violence rising at a very high rate, land conflicts increasing every minute, and we had no way of reaching out to them or helping them. We had no phone credit, let alone any way of raising our voice and helping the mediators continue with their work. Mediators, myself and the team were experiencing mental and emotional breakdown.”
When Harriet confided in a fellow peacebuilder from the U.S about the challenges she was facing, she found out about the Digital Inclusion Fund.
“The grant from Peace Direct was the only grant that we received in this time. Many of the funds said they were open to everyone, even community–based organizations, but the reality is that most of the funds were for the big and well-connected organizations which we could not compete with.
When I received this grant all I remember was that there were tears in my eyes. I knew I was able to stay connected and help women and girls in rural communities who were experiencing sexual, physical and mental violence and trauma.”
“Through radio we were able to hold awareness sessions and provide mental health support programs.
Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, female clan leaders are delighted to be able to reconnect peacebuilders through interactive discussions. They talked about the need to engage female peacebuilders and strengthening their contribution to addressing land conflict, reducing domestic and gender-based violence and enhancing women’s rights in rural communities.
Female peacebuilders and clan representatives also held an interactive radio broadcast on domestic violence during the coronavirus outbreak. They also spoke about increased child marriage and teenage pregnancy, and the need for local communities to join together to protect vulnerable women, children and girls in rural communities.”
“All I can say is thank you Peace Direct. Thank you for believing in small community–based organizations and supporting us to continue peacebuilding in unknown spaces and communities, created by unknown peacebuilders. Thank you for trusting us and helping us when we had no one to turn to for support.”
“If it weren’t for this fund, we would have shut down. This funding contributed to our sustainability and ability to continue reaching the community. It meant our voices continued to be heard, not just in the small communities but around the region. Using the radios showed us that this is a great avenue to reach other communities, places we struggle to access because of transport challenges.”
The Digital Inclusion Fund was created as part of the “Shift Power for Peace” collaboration from Conducive Space for Peace, Humanity United and Peace Direct. Through the initiative, peacebuilders collaborated online to access learning tools for digital peacebuilding and to apply for grants to purchase technology. A total of 233 grants were awarded in 2020, enabling local organisations to transform their work in this trying time.