My name is Jalal* and I live in north-west Pakistan. It is known as a hotbed of militancy and extremism, where militants run the streets and bombs destroy lives. When the Taliban began taking over our area, I didn’t know what to do. One by one, I lost most of my friends to the Taliban. They were used to carry out suicide attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan and Waziristan, just across the border from Pakistan.
The shortlist for Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders, our annual awards that celebrate the world’s most innovative locally-led peacebuilders, has been finalised – leaving 13 of the 244 applicants to pass through to the next stage of the competition. Three winners will be announced at a ceremony in December and will each receive $10,000 towards their project.
As a child Benjamin lost his family in the Burundian civil war. He grew up with anger and hatred, and at 12 years old joined a rebellion as a child soldier. At the beginning of this year, Benjamin attended a local campaign promoting tolerance and reconciliation. He sat in a room with those he called enemies, something he never thought possible. Now Benjamin wants to work to make Burundi a peaceful country, with opportunities for young people to thrive.
In a time when divisions, violence and attacks are increasingly making international headlines, we must continue to work for peace, and make it a practical priority. In the countdown to International Day of Peace on 21 September, share your #messageofhope and be part of a global movement for peace and justice.