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Alumni News

News from and about MPI Alumni

Francis Nazia

Bougainville peacebuilder receives scholarships

Please note: This article was originally published on the PaCSIA website.

PaCSIA is thrilled to announce that Francis Nazia, Bougainville peacebuilder and member of Bougainville Indigenous Dialogue, is the recipient of two scholarships which will enable him to attend intensive peacebuilding training at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute’s Annual Peacebuilding Training in 2017.

The Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) is an Asian training institute grounded in the Mindanao, Philippines, context that provides a space for people of diverse backgrounds to gather together, share and learn in a safe environment where all viewpoints are encouraged and respected. MPI is a resource for peacebuilders: providing skills, conducting research and building solidarity within the Asia-Pacific Region. The next Annual Training will be from May 8-26, 2017 in Davao City, Philippines.

Why Timor-Leste and Antero da Silva?

This article was originally posted on the Student Peace Prize website and reposted with permission. Antero da Silva is one of the first alumni of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute.

Timor-Leste is a country in Southeast Asia, and is one of the youngest countries in the world as it got it’s independence May 20th 2002, after a long and brutal fight against the Indonesian occupation. From the 16th century Timor-Leste was a Portuguese colony, until the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN) declared the territory’s independence in 1975. Only nine days after the independence from Portugal, Timor-Leste was occupied by Indonesia. The Indonesian occupation were characterized by struggle, violence, and conflict between the Indonesian military and independence fighters.

Antero Benedito da Silva

Antero Benedito da Silva

Antero da Silva grew up during this chaotic time, but was always dreaming of an independent and peaceful island. Da Silva founded East Timor Student Solidarity Council (ETSSC) in 1998, as a way for students to participate in the ongoing struggle for independence and democracy. He opened up student offices across the whole island, where people could learn about the benefits for an independent country. The Indonesian military and government did not approve of this, and were fighting against the opposition with all means. This led to deaths of several students, and just being part of a student organization made you a target for the Indonesian military. Antero da Silva, as the founder of ETSSC, were seen as one of the most important activists during the struggle for independence and democracy in Timor-Leste. And in 1999 he and ETSSC were awarded the Student Peace Prize for their non-violent against the Indonesian occupation. Da Silva’s work proved to be effective as the country became independent only a few years after he received the Student Peace Prize.

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Peacebuilding in Timor-Leste: Meeting the Challenges

Community meeting in Dili
Nitha addressing a community meeting organized by the Ministry of Social Solidarity in Dili.

In 2010, Joanita Silvira da Costa, or Nitha, as she prefers to be called, joined over one hundred other participants during the Annual Peacebuilding Training of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) that was held in Davao City, Philippines. The Annual Peacebuilding Training is a three-week intensive series of courses offered every year by MPI that aims to develop the capacity of individuals and their institutions in the field of peacebuilding. The courses explore the latest and most pressing issues on matters of peace, justice, and conflict.

Six years later, in 2016, Nitha generously shared her story and her journey as a peacebuilder in post-conflict Timor-Leste.

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Peacebuilding Through Dialogue: A Journey from Theory to Practice

Jannatul MoaI was feeling so lost and depressed these days. The consecutive killings of writers and the aftermath in my country made me want to escape what was going on around me. I found everything meaningless. Every day we were hearing news of explosions, killings and so on from various corners of the world. The whole world seemed to be on top of a volcano waiting to explode. No one knew who would be next?

It was during this time that I heard about the one-year International Fellows Programme on interreligious dialogue of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID).

I have been participating in Interfaith Dialogue programs since I was 20. Now, I am 29, and over these past nine years, I have participated in several kinds of dialogue programs; including service projects, conferences, seminars and trainings. But, it seems to me dialogue is not working effectively here; in fact, nowhere! So, I was not very interested in joining yet another program on dialogue. For the first time in my life, I tried to ignore anything related to interfaith dialogue! I was almost done ignoring; with only a few hours left to submit the application. Suddenly, I felt I might be going to miss something—something very special! I need to apply, I really need to apply! Finally, I did apply and was selected.

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How RIDO is transforming rido

Abdul Hamidullah T. Atar, MPAFor the Muslim Maranao from the southern part of the Philippines around Lake Lanao, the word “rido” means clan feuds. Rido is a type of conflict most commonly observed in Mindanao and is characterized by sporadic outbursts of retaliatory violence between families and kinship groups, as well as between communities. But RIDO as an acronym is an organization that aims to solve this type of conflict.

The Reconciliatory Initiatives for Development Opportunities Incorporated (RIDO) have shared with the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc. (MPI) some of the amazing efforts that they have been making to propagate peace, counter violence with understanding and resolve/mitigate conflict in the areas in which they have been working. Over the past three years, from 2010 to 2012, RIDO recounted inspiring stories of hope and reconciliation in their publication entitled Kalilintad, the Maranao word for peace. Heading this organization are MPI alumni who participated in MPI’s Annual Peacebuilding Training in 2008 and 2009, including its Executive Director, Mr. Abdul Hamidullah “Pogie” T. Atar.

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