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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.

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.

Empowering Youth for Better Security Awareness

Kenya is a youthful nation, with approximately 65 percent of the population under the age of 35. Frustration with unemployment and lack of education and opportunities for political participation and governance are among the numerous problems that Kenya faces. These challenges pose great threats to the youth and make it more likely that they will be involved with criminal and extremist groups. Kenya is a breeding ground for radicalism and terrorism. Groups involved in such activities are recruiting from among the youth. Being unemployed and uneducated means they can easily be indoctrinated into these groups’ version of “jihad.” They have misinterpreted jihad, which means “to struggle” in the Muslim faith1, and have been successful at increasing the number of young terrorists. Establishing a caliphate is the main goal of their jihad. In 2013, one such group carried out an attack on a mall where 68 people died2, and in 2015, 148 students lost their lives in an attack on a university3.

Thank you, Mastura!

The following piece was on the published by International Alert on their Facebook page.

We are honored to have known Mastura Arimao, a volunteer teacher in Matanog and Parang, Maguindanao, and member of our youth network Movement of Young Peacebuilders’ in Mindanao. We thank him for his warm and affectionate manner, his intelligent enthusiasm and sense of humor, and his quiet strength and sense of purpose. We tip our hats to his crucial contribution in increasing the political participation of young people in the Iranun Corridor.

Mastura first participated in International Alert Philippines’ and the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute’s (MPI’s) Youth Political Leadership Training (YPLT) in 2016 with other youth from different conflict-stricken areas of Mindanao. Here, they sharpened and improved their leadership capabilities to influence positive change in their communities. This led Mastura and two other youth leaders to initiate a research on youth involvement in rido (clan wars) in the Municipality of Matanog, as their change project. The research explored the reasons, causes, and effects of the involvement of young people in clan feuds, the results of which were presented to the LGU of Matanog, religious leaders, community leaders, and Alternative Dispute Resolution Teams. Because of this research, local leaders realized the importance of youth participation in solving problems in the community. This resulted to the institutionalization of the Youth Reconciliation Council in the LGU of Matanog, a council managed by the youth that helps resolve conflict involving young people.

Enabling Possibilities and Championing Peace Through Youth

“Composing the music, playing the instruments and performing the dance” is how Jeanyline Alvarado describes her work in peacebuilding and her need to multitask in implementing the projects in which she is involved. Jeanyline is an alumna of MPI’s 2013 Annual Peacebuilding Training, having taken the course Strengthening Peace Education Training Skills. She works at Southern Christian College (SCC) in Midsayap, Cotabato, as the Community Development Coordinator under the Office of the Vice President for Research and Extension in the Office of the Director for Extension. 

Jeanyline has been very involved in the SCC Peace and Tri-People Dialogue Project. She has worked with Agenda 1: Transformative Education and Peace, which focuses on the youth. These youth come from SCC partner communities and organizations, such as the Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement and Balay Rehabilitation Center.

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