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Alumni News

News from and about MPI Alumni

Friends of MPI, India: A Growing Network of Peacebuilders

Friends of MPI, India: A Growing Network of Peacebuilders

On Tuesday, 29 January 2019, 15 MPI alumni gathered at Stella Maris College in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. This reunion in India was the third time that MPI alumni came together to mutually support one another, and for them to share what they have been doing since being involved with MPI and to hear about new developments at MPI. This was the first MPI alumni reunion in India.

Welcoming participants to the gatheringMPI took advantage of the opportunity that was presented because of the International Conference on Peace Building and Conflict Transformation: Moving from Violence to Sustainable Peace, that was organized by Stella Maris College (Autonomous) in Chennai from 30-31 January 2019. MPI was invited to attend this conference and thus thought it worthwhile to organize this alumni gathering.

The participants present at the meeting had joined the MPI Annual Peacebuilding Training between 2002 and 2018. Some already knew each other, being from the same year, and were so happy to reconnect. Some were meeting with other MPI alumni for the first time and were grateful for this connection.

The sharing of stories and experiences regenerated a feeling of oneness, a feeling of belonging to the bigger MPI peacebuilding family, a feeling that many had longed for when they first decided to join the gathering. It was such a powerful reunion. Everyone was highly motivated and committed to come up with concrete plans on how to reinforce peacebuilding work in India.

The Invitation (Up the Hills of Peace)

The Invitation (Up the Hills of Peace)

  pdf The Invitation (Up the Hills of Peace) (1.62 MB) is a book of poetry by MPI Alumnus Julius Nzang.

"Most of the poems in this collection speak of several distinct times in the progression of the conflict in Cameroon, especially in the wake of its violent turn around. Some of them are based on personal experiences, personal responses to collective experiences, and collective responses to experiences within the confines of the conflict. Others, just like every work of art, meet expressly the unique criterion of the genre, while some fall under free verse. As you read, try to empathize with the human who lives these dilemmas on a daily basis, whose reality has been radically shifted from calm and peacefulness to brutality, insecurity and uncertainty (from the Introduction)."

Touching Lives and Bringing Smiles

Touching Lives and Bringing Smiles

Working with the Barrackpore Avenue Women’s Culture and Social Welfare Society (BAWCSW), I see the people in the community with whom I work as part of my family. BAWCSW was established in 2016 with the aim to help the most disenfranchised people in India. The social structures of caste and patriarchy in India result in discrimination against minorities, especially against the women, children, and elders. In many cases, the feminist struggles of society are lacking since women are not allowed to express their opinion and are supposed to “stand behind the curtains.”

Culture is something that should be cherished and nurtured. It is an important part of any community or group of people. Yet, when the culture is distorted, it can have a destructive face. If elements of the culture are not benefitting the people, it should not remain as part of the culture.

One way to deal with social problems caused by the misinterpretation of culture values can be seen in the work of BAWCSW. The Peace Support Group (PSG) and the shelter for children and elders were created to decrease communal disharmony in society.

Using Art as an Expression of Peace

Using Art as an Expression of Peace

Redentor Alejado is a humble peacebuilder who started with hope and is now working to make other youths’ hopes and dreams possible. He believes that art can be an effective tool to express one’s thoughts, feelings and emotions in a nonviolent way.

While still in college, Alejado participated in Southern Christian College (SCC)/Office of the Vice President for Research and Extension (OVPRE) programs such as the Summer Institute for Peace and Development Motivators (SIPDM) in Midsayap, Cotabato, in Southern Philippines. This was part of his early formation and gave him a new perspective in life and how to look at peace and development.

Redefining Mindanao: Enabling Culture of Peace and Hybrid Conflict Resolution Approach in Alamada

Redefining Mindanao: Enabling Culture of Peace and Hybrid Conflict Resolution Approach in Alamada

Conflict settlement was not all about ourselves, nor for few people but generally for the whole community. 

Jun Lataza, Jr.

Bartolome “Jun” Lataza, Jr., is an alumnus of the 2011 and 2012 Annual Peacebuilding Training of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc. (MPI). At the time of MPI’s Annual Peacebuilding Trainings of 2011 and 2012, Lataza was in the middle of his term (2010-2013) as the municipal mayor of Alamada, Cotabato Province, Mindanao, Philippines. With 17 years of experience in the military and five years as a police officer, he has extensive knowledge of the importance of merging the defense strategy, conflict management, society engagement and peace approaches.  

Alamada has a population of approximately 56,000, mostly comprised of Cebuano, Ilonggo, Iranon (a Muslim Cultural Community), Karay-a, and Tagalog. Alamada has confronted several conflicts over the years. The challenges to peace and stability include animosity as a result of the history of fighting in Mindanao, territorial and ancestral land disputes, identity and cultural discrimination, environmental threats, criminality, and poverty.

To address the conflicts, former Mayor Lataza launched several peacebuilding programs that would aim to settle longtime issues effectively and promote best practices among the community. Alamada went from being a conflict-torn to a zone of peace municipality. Land conflict, rido(clan conflict), armed conflict, and environmental issues were some of the conflicts he had successfully resolved during his time as mayor.

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