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Celebrating 20 Years of Peacebuilding - Inaugural Edition

MPI Celebrating 20 Years of Peacebuilding Globe with diverse characters and MPI logo It is now 2020, and the world is still struggling to achieve peace. But, a small yet committed and dedicated group of peacebuilders envisions having just and peaceful communities in Asia-Pacific and beyond. For two decades, the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) from Davao City, Mindanao—their island home in the Philippines—has been gathering together peacebuilders from all corners of the globe. MPI does this so that these peacebuilders can become empowered as catalysts, bringing about positive change and social transformation in their communities. Today, MPI stands fast in creating safe spaces for mutual learning and exchange, opening more and more hearts and minds to the possibility of peace in our lifetime throughout the world.

Christine Vertucci 2nd from right with facilitators holding hands

The Sign of Hope that is MPI

This year, the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) is celebrating 20 years as a training institution in the Asia-Pacific region. Since 2000, MPI has trained over 2,000 peacebuilders scattered across the globe. We have achieved this due to dedicated facilitators, resource persons, volunteers, interns, friends, and colleagues. This May, MPI will be conducting its 21st Annual Peacebuilding Training without missing a single year. This has been so even in the face of many challenges that could have led to its cancellation.

MPI has prevailed for 20 years as a not-for-profit organization, trying its best to be as self-reliant as possible in order to uphold its Vision, Mission, and Goal without compromise. This has been due in no small part to committed members of the Board of Trustees who, over the years, have come from the ranks of the peacebuilding community in Mindanao and from across the globe. Today, MPI is as vibrant, relevant and dynamic as ever. It has not lost any of its enthusiasm and hope that propelled it into existence in 2000, believing firmly in the importance of building strong and lasting relationships among all its stakeholders. MPI continues to be blessed with an excellent, small team of dedicated, hardworking, and committed peacebuilders who are carrying out MPI’s mandate with determination and joy.

Myla Leguro

Creating a Space for Peacebuilders

When I started with the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI), I was part of what we called the MPI steering committee, which was composed of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), and a year later, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD). This was 1999, but the conversation started in 1998. These early conversations also included the Agong Peace Network and the Silsilah Dialogue Movement.

The impetus for forming MPI came out of a question from grassroots leaders whom we were training on the culture of peace from 1996 to 1998. The questions they asked were: “What’s next? Where do we get the continuing learning on peacebuilding, on conflict transformation?”
The answer to these questions was forged during a dinner conversation with John Paul Lederach in May 1998 during the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at Eastern Mennonite University. Nine of us Mindanaons plus one expat from across religious identities talked about a dream of setting up our own Summer Peacebuilding Institute, which would be the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute. The idea was to create a space to bring people together, inspire people, and build their capacities for peacebuilding and conflict transformation.

Jon Rudy kneeling and talking with participants

A Safe Environment for Diverse Peoples

From its inception, the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) has strived to create a space for people of diverse backgrounds to gather together, share and learn in a safe environment where all viewpoints are encouraged and respected. The creation of such an environment is due in no small part to the dedicated facilitators who have often had participants from divergent perspectives or come from different sides of a conflict in their countries or regions.

One such facilitator is Jon Rudy, who was Peacebuilder in Residence at Elizabethtown College in the United States from 2012 to 2019. Jon began facilitating courses with MPI in 2004. He has facilitated courses as varied as Fundamentals of Peacebuilding, Active Nonviolence, and Religion: Peacebuilding in Multicultural Society.

Jon shared his own experience in having real-life conflicts and dialogue occur in the classroom.

A Pakistani woman and an Indian woman were sitting at the same table in a training I was conducting. Being suspicious of each other on the first day, by the second day they were on speaking terms. By the third day, they were working together, at their table groups, in harmony with one another. By the end of the week, they declared together that they were tired of their countries fighting with each other and committed to peace.

Jon highlights three crucial tasks that he has observed as necessary for creating authentic human security in gatherings of diverse groups of people. These three elements, he states, are “relationships, interactions that are participatory and enhanced listening skills.”

A collage of pictures of MPI history

Historical Timeline of MPI

New on the MPI website, a historical timeline. Check out the history of MPI with a timeline highlighting the important events and activities since MPI began in 2000. See the timeline here.

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