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Alumni News

News from and about MPI Alumni

In Memoriam: Tawanda Chandiwana, 1989 – 2019

In Memoriam: Tawanda Chandiwana, 1989 – 2019

Tawanda Chandiwana was a young peacebuilder from Zimbabwe who attended MPI's 2018 Annual Peacebuilding Training. Tawanda passed away from what was most likely leukemia on December 13, 2019. The General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church wrote he "had been hospitalized for several weeks, likely suffering from leukemia. His health situation and treatment were complicated by a prolonged strike of many doctors in Zimbabwe."

Tawanda came to the Philippines as a Global Mission Fellow along with two other MPI alumni, Miracle Osman and Mely Sabina Lengkong. Mely was assigned to MPI, while Tawanda and Miracle were working with Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (InPeace Mindanao).

Peace Scholarships for Post-Conflict Areas in Papua, Indonesia

Peace Scholarships for Post-Conflict Areas in Papua, Indonesia

Scholarships can be the glue to bind together friendships that were torn apart. By bringing together East Indonesian students, especially those in Papua, where there has been fighting between groups in schools, we can restore harmony. Thus, the Social Trust Fund (STF) UIN Jakarta is collaborating with the Indonesia Peacebuilding Institute (Lembaga Perdamaian Indonesia, LPI) on a program called “Peace Scholarships for Post-Conflict Areas in Papua” in 2020.

Educational assistance is not enough. For children who live in post-conflict situations or in areas vulnerable to conflict and violence, the Peace Scholarships are a valuable asset for the children, their families, the implementing institutions and the surrounding community. The scholarships create an opportunity for students to contribute to creating spaces for them to be able to greet each other respectfully.

This scholarship model not only provides for the needs of education costs such as tuition fees, textbooks, examination fees, pocket money, uniform money, but also is oriented towards strengthening relations between recipients, families and different religious groups. Besides gender, the proportion of ethnic Papuans and non-Papuans is also taken into consideration. This kind of model will not expand if scholarships only focus on access to education or supporting achievement.

From the World of Physics to the World of Peacebuilding

From the World of Physics to the World of Peacebuilding

Prior to MPI’s 2019 Annual Peacebuilding Training, Physics Professor Franklin Savarimuthu of Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, knew nothing about and had no special interest in peacebuilding. Frank finished his PhD in Physics in 2009, conducting research on crystalline structures. Nine years ago, he became a physics teacher for undergraduate science students at Bishop Heber College (autonomous) in his home town, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu. In January 2019, the principle of the college informed the members of the different faculties about the United Board for Christian Higher Education (United Board).

Franklin and his colleagues were asked to look into the offer and apply for the Faculty Enrichment Program of United Board. He checked the website of United Board and saw the announcement for an Intensive English Learning Program that interested him, but due to some constraints, Frank was not able to apply for it. The very next program listed on the website was a scholarship for the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute’s 2019 Annual Peacebuilding Training.

“Since peacebuilding was not a known word to me, I was not interested in it initially. Since no other projects were listed, I simply went through it to see what is there,” Frank explains.

The information he found about MPI and its Annual Peacebuilding Training Program fell on fertile ground. “I already had the long-term wish to serve the society.”

Small arms trade: A deterrent to peace

Small arms trade: A deterrent to peace

One of the factors making conflict varile in our region (Greater Horn and Eastern Africa) is "access to small arms." This is made possible by the existence of a thriving arms trade and arms trade routes with agents and buyers, investors, and users of arms.

Most of the small arms trade is done outside normal formal trade. Laws to manage the movement of arms exist. However, the enforcement mechanisms are conducted by fellow human beings. Invariably then, the factors of principled values, principled practices and adequate level of pay to law enforcers are laid aside, making arms trade possible.

Sri Lanka Post-War Reconciliation and Now

Sri Lanka Post-War Reconciliation and Now

During MPI’s 2019 Annual Peacebuilding Training, Jude Mahendren gave a presentation on post-war Sri Lanka. The following article is a study guide for the online posting of his slide presentation below (click on Read More), focusing on the long-term effects of the war, political climate, introduction of transitional justice and the current state of the country.

Sri Lanka’s 26-year-long armed conflict came to an end through military means in May, 2009. The final operations resulted in heavy human causalities and disappearances. More than 500,000 people were internally displaced, mostly detained in camps. After heavy pressure from the international community, most of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) were resettled.

The discrimination of the Sinhala majoritarian government and ongoing ethnic riots against the Tamil people resulted in their option for an armed struggle. The Tamil people’s cultural nationalism started to evolve into a political nationalism. They then claimed the north and eastern provinces as their homeland (see slide 6) and the Tamil language and Tamil culture became its identity markers.

The consequences of the war were that all three ethnic communities suffered, especially with the way the war ended in 2009. There were no hard data on how many were killed, arrested, and surrendered, with even entire families gone missing. A Catholic Bishop estimated that there were 146,679 missing persons during the final phase of war based on government and NGO data.

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