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Alumni News

News from and about MPI Alumni

Thank you, Mastura!

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.

Empowering Youth for Better Security Awareness

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.

Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Post-war Sri Lanka Book Launching

Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Post-war Sri Lanka Book Launching

A new book entitled Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Post-war Sri Lanka: through the Healing of Memories and the Role of the Catholic Church was launched in Colombo on June 2, 2018. Fr. J.M. Joseph Jeyaseelan, CMF (Claretian Missionaries), an MPI alumnus from 2018, is the author of the book. Gracing the occasion as chief guest was His Excellency Most. Rev. Dr. Pierre Nguyen Van Tot, Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka. Honorable Mano Ganesan, Minister of National Coexistence, Dialogue and Official Languages; Very Rev. Fr. Dilan Fernando, SSS, the President of the Conference of the Major Religious Superiors in Sri Lanka; family members; and friends of Fr. Jeyaseelan; members of the Claretian family in Sri Lanka; and representatives from religious, non-governmental and civil society organizations also attended. The book was introduced by Dr. Jehan Perera, Executive Director of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka and reviewed by Prof. Shirley Wijesinghe of the University of Kelaniya. A message sent to the author by Rt. Rev. Dr. Winston Fernando, SSS, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka was read out during the launching event.

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Enabling Possibilities and Championing Peace Through Youth

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.

Becoming a Catalyst for Peace Activism

Becoming a Catalyst for Peace Activism

I distinctly remember how on the 6th of May, 2018, I had landed in Davao City in Mindanao, Philippines, and was anxious about finding my route to the venue for the Annual Peacebuilding Training of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc. (MPI). MPI had sent a volunteer and a driver to pick up a participant from Sri Lanka and me from the airport. With a beaming smile, they welcomed us, and within a few minutes, they started sharing many things from snacks to jokes and put us at ease. MPI knows more than a thing or two about making utter strangers turn into friends in a very short span of time. Dazed by travel exhaustion, I hoped that my next three-week experience at MPI would be one of such warmth. 

Padmakumar M M (PK) giving a testimonial during MPI's 2018 Annual Peacebuilding TrainingLittle did I know then that the MPI Annual Peacebuilding Training would turn out to be one of the best experiences I have had in my life! Looking back, I know that it was intensely enriching for many reasons. It was truly an immersion in global citizenship. I gained invaluable international, intercultural and even intersubjective experience; got wholesome food for the soul; picked up skills to handle conflicts and build peace; and overall, felt humbled as a learner and expanded as a human.

My sense of the world’s geography, histories, cultures, conflict contexts, and peace approaches grew immensely in those three short weeks at MPI. I had soul-stirring interactions with participants from Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Afghanistan, Fiji, Bangladesh, Switzerland, Bougainville, Germany, Pakistan, Laos, Kenya, Vietnam, Japan, etc. I’m sure many of those who attended with me would have similar accounts to highlight. Such exchanges inform us how beautiful and necessary cultural sharing is. And what do I tell about my Filipino friends! They were so adorably warm and friendly! I learned a lot in their company.

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