At Peace Direct we are always on the lookout for new partners that would benefit from our funding and advice, and as you may know, last year we ran the Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders competition, designed to find the best new peacebuilders. The competition panel of international experts looked at 244 applications from 54 countries before making their decision. After some searching discussions, they chose four winners: Kapamagogopa Incorporated in the Philippines (KI), Peace Solutions International (working with Congolese refugees in Uganda), Community Network for Social Justice (Uganda) and Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó (Colombia). These were chosen because they were grassroots-level community projects led by local people, and offered innovative ways to promote peace. Each winner was awarded a prize of $4,000 to enhance and develop their work.
Now is the exciting moment when one of the winners, KI, will join our Grow Peace Fund. They are based in Mindanao, southern Philippines – a mainly Christian area that has been affected for years by Muslim separatist guerrillas. KI run cross-cultural volunteering programmes, aiming to bridge the divides that foster this conflict by placing Muslim volunteers for long-term placements in Christian and Muslim organisations across Mindanao. With our support, KI have now expanded to cover the Visayas region, an area where the population is 95 per cent Christian and prejudice against Muslims is particularly high. They are now preparing to train a new group of volunteers.
Asmin Monib (Ash) and Nafisah Radiamoda are two Muslim volunteers who have been placed in this region. They have been working at the Gualandi Volunteer Service Programme (GVSP), a Christian organisation that focuses on issues faced by the deaf community, so learning Filipino sign language was an essential requirement. Then, in the aftermath of the earthquake and later typhoon that struck the Philippines, Ash and Nafisah were required to provide emergency relief to survivors. They both played active roles in ensuring donations and aid parcels were distributed successfully, as well as offering translation services for deaf people caught up in these disasters.
The remarkable aspect of their experience is that neither of them had been outside Mindanao before enrolling with KI. Hopefully the image of Muslim volunteers aiding their Christian neighbours is one that will carry great weight in the battle to break down the cultural barriers that motivate violence in certain areas of the Philippines.
Ongoing support is vital to the success of all of our partners like these. Here are the quarterly highlights from the other Grow Peace beneficiaries: