2018 has been a year of growth, successes, challenges and learning for Peace Direct. We’re proud to have continued supporting local people to build peace in 12 countries around the world, and to shine a light on the efforts and resilience of grassroots action in many more.
At the heart of all our successes has been our belief in non-violence and the power of local action. Despite the devastation and violence that makes the headlines, we come across inspiring and hopeful stories every day, and we have the privilege of working with brilliant peacebuilders making a difference on the frontlines of conflict.
Our Head of Fundraising and Communications, Gemma Britton, looks back on 2018 and says thank you to all those involved in the efforts to build peace. Here is her pick of seven things she’s thankful for in 2018; brought about by hope, support, and working together to make peace possible.
Our supporters who believe in peace
Peace wouldn’t be possible without those who believe in it, which is why your continued support and commitment to our mission tops our list of things to be thankful for in 2018.
Every donation (however big or small), every share on social media, every person who signs up for our newsletter and every fundraising event that you organise is helping to build peace and raise the voices of people working tirelessly every day in areas of conflict. We thank each and every one of our supporters for your contribution.
There have been many, but just a couple of our fundraising highlights from this year include:
- Christmas is a time for giving, and we can’t express our gratitude enough for your generosity during this year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge – a UK-based match funding campaign. With your support we raised more than $40,000, which means that in just one week, we now have the funds which could train up to 140 peacebuilders in 2019 – that’s 140 more people who will dedicate their time to resolving conflict and rebuilding lives around the world.
- Rob Pope’s epic run across America and record-breaking marathon was magnificent! Rob ran over 15,000 miles (starting in September 2016 and finishing in May of this year), raising well over $53,000 to date for Peace Direct and WWF. And if this wasn’t enough, he went on to break the Guinness World Record of fastest runner in a film costume (as Forrest Gump) at this year’s London Marathon!
Rob Pope running 15,000 miles across America dressed as Forrest Gump.
From all of us at Peace Direct, thank you – your support means so much to us and peacebuilders worldwide.
The power of partnership
The dedication and commitment of our local partners working on the ground in areas of conflict never fails to astound us.
From developing early warning systems, supporting ex-combatants, reintegrating child soldiers and advocating justice and human rights, our partners work around the clock, often in extremely fragile conditions, using their local expertise to prevent conflict and build a world free of violence.
In 2018 we have supported important new projects with our partner organisations. We brought grassroots peacebuilders from across Mali together to share knowledge and better ways of working, we supported work in the Philippines to provide aid to those displaced by violence, and helped to develop the efforts of an organisation in Nigeria which is using sport to encourage peacebuilding and reconciliation among young people.
We work on the understanding that we can learn more from our partners than they do from us, and we look forward to applying what we have learned this year to further strengthen our partnerships in the future and to ensure they can do so much more.
Meeting Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders
The 2018 Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders Awards recognised and celebrated an incredible group of nine local peacebuilding organisations from around the world. This annual awards is a key event in the Peace Direct calendar and allows us to support and profile local peacebuilding efforts beyond the partners we work with long-term.
This year, the awards ceremony took place in the US, so we took the opportunity to bring the group together for meetings in New York – including at the United Nations – and then at Alliance for Peacebuilding’s PeaceCon conference in Washington, DC. For us it was critical we could ensure their voices were heard and profiles raised.
I was fortunate to be with the finalists for the duration of their time in the US and it was another important reminder for me that there is so much meaningful, innovative and creative peacebuilding work happening globally.
Our time together provided so much hope and optimism, knowing that wonderful people like them – and so many more – have chosen to dedicate their efforts and energies to finding peaceful solutions to conflict.
Bringing the Peace Direct family together
In July several members of the Peace Direct team came together with representatives from the organisations we partner with for a ‘Peace Exchange’ in Lebanon.
It was a real honour to spend time with inspirational peacebuilders from countries including Somalia, Pakistan, DR Congo and Burundi. It felt like the gathering of an extended family; a group of people living in very different places and experiencing conflict happening for many different reasons, but all had something amazing in common – the commitment to finding local, non-violent and long-lasting ways to stop wars and prevent conflict.
Ideas were shared and lessons learned by all, and I left feeling more optimistic and all-the-more grateful to the people Peace Direct works with daily who are making this world a more peaceful one.
Read more about what we learned during the Peace Exchange here.
A global travel brand with local peacebuilding at its heart
Away is a global lifestyle brand that launched in February 2016. They design thoughtful objects (like suitcases and other travel accessories) to make travelling more seamless. Before the company started, Away’s co-founders Jen and Steph always believed that it was possible for a company to do well as a business, while also doing good for the world. It’s one of the reasons they began a partnership with Peace Direct, before Away even sold a single piece of luggage.
They’re committed to supporting Peace Direct and our partners’ work to make the world a safer place for everyone.
Beyond monetary donations, Away’s team members also donate their time, skills and expertise to supporting Peace Direct – from storytelling on Away’s social media, in the news, and at events, to helping Peace Direct’s team enhance their website and email database.
Away’s team works to introduce Peace Direct to their global community of travellers, and we are so grateful for all Away does to make a difference to the lives of people living through, or at risk of, the effects of war and conflict.
Thank you, Away!
Mapping more peacebuilding efforts
From Lebanon to Kashmir, our local peacebuilding experts have provided valuable, real time and in-depth knowledge of conflicts around the world and the organisations working on the ground to resolve them.
Through their valuable information and insights, we’ve been able to identify more local peacebuilding organisations in 2018 and increase the reach of our online interactive database, Peace Insight. Through their expert analyses on conflict and security issues in their parts of the world, we’ve been able to organise peacebuilding workshops and conferences around the globe and online.
Their work is fundamental to helping us provide our online resource on over 1,700 local peacebuilding organisations, and in our mission to amplify the voices of local peacebuilders and get their message heard.
Forging alliances across the peacebuilding field
Although peacebuilding is happening across the world, and peacebuilders are putting themselves in challenging situations every day to resolve conflict, the word ‘peacebuilding’ is still not recognised in many leading dictionaries. That’s why this year we joined a campaign to get the word ‘peacebuilding’ into the dictionary, working with other peacebuilding organisations including International Alert, Saferworld and Conciliation Resources. So far, peacebuilding has been added to three leading dictionaries, proof that when we work together we can have a greater impact.
Dedication, teamwork and coordination are all visible among the local peacebuilders we support, and we believe that building networks with like-minded organisations is vital to resolving conflict and increasing the understanding of what ‘peacebuilding’ is.
We are grateful to our peacebuilding peers for coming together to get the work of peacebuilders around the world recognised, and we look forward to more opportunities to team up in 2019.
A spirit of togetherness
Not all peacebuilders live in war zones, and our dedicated team in London and Washington, DC bring their skills, which include expertise in research, advocacy, programme support and communications – along with their passion for peace – to make Peace Direct what is it.
The Peace Direct team work closely with our local partners to inform the strategy, activities and messaging of our work. They bring their skills, energy and commitment to peace every day. Having joined this year, I’ve felt lucky to join an inspiring team who are all working to make the world a safer, fairer place, and learning from one another every day to achieve this.
The team has grown this year to ensure we can support even more work globally, and this also means that the experience, unique understanding and longstanding work with local peacebuilders around the world also grows.
We’ve shown what a spirit of togetherness can achieve in a time when it can sometimes seem to be slipping away from us.
I look forward to working more closely with Peace Direct colleagues, and welcoming more new members to the Peace Direct team in 2019.
We continue to strive for peace – built brick by brick from the ground up.
As 2018 draws to a close, we want to thank you for your continued support to all those fighting for peace in some of the most fragile places in the world. We have so much to be grateful for, but there is still so much more to do.
Thank you for believing that peace is possible.
In Zimbabwe, we work with a local organisation, Envision Zimbabwe, whose work focuses on reducing political and gender-based violence, and building community cohesion. Recently, they ran Conflict Transformation Training for Traditional Leaders in Hurungwe, bringing together 70 people. Read more »