Dear friends and supporters,
Thank you for all the generous donations we have received in the past months. Some of the donations given go towards recruiting our new volunteers. I would like to tell you how we do this. How do young people in Mindanao get to find out about our program? Apart from through social media and the grapevine, every summer KI holds a roadshow so that young people can find out what it means to become a peace builder and a KI volunteer. So last April 21 2015, KI staff travelled to Cotobato City to conduct an orientation, we were amazed by the response with 157 participants (104F, 53M) who came from all over South-Western MindanaoDespite the extreme humidity that suppressed the room, not a single participant attempted to leave such was their interest in our program. The orientation lasted for more than 3 hours which also included an open forum facilitated by Hasna, a KI Alumni volunteer, who is now working with a local women's organization in Cotabato City. The event would not have been possible without the help of the Alumni volunteers who did most of the organizing and publicizing. Many of our former volunteers stay engaged with peacebuilding and development long after they have finished their placements. The numbers of participants who attended the orientation shows that, amidst all crises that Mindanao and its people are experiencing, the youth are not sleeping. The youth are not only aware of what is happening, they want to be part of something that will change the fate of Mindanaowans. They just need to have a space and a right avenue where they can express themselves in helping to bring peace in Mindanao. This is exactly the goal of KI to give an opportunity for young Muslim youth to foster a better understanding among diverse culture and faiths.
Your contributions are invaluable in helping us to achieve our dream of peace.
Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has recently donated to our project.
This is a difficult time in the Philippines and in other parts of the world. The images and portrayal of Muslims, especially the youth, is often negative and biased. Our project has always aimed to show our young people in a more positive light and that they can affect change through peace and dialogue.
For this report, I would like to tell you about one of our current volunteers, Ms. Naslia "Babylove" Sanggoyod from Malabang, Lanao del Sur. Babylove grew up in a very protective family which meant that her experience of the world around her was limited, however she managed to persuade her parents for permission to apply to KI. She was a successful candidate in the assessment process and with assurances given by KI management, she was able to become a KI volunteer.
Babylove has grasped her opportunity well. She has showed a lot of maturity and dedication to her work, so much so that KI gave her the role of project assistant here in the office.
In the latter part of 2014, Babylove with other KI staff visited rural communities in Lanao del Norte to hold consultations and orientate them with accurate and up to date information of the current situation in the Peace Process. Due to the lack of information and/or misinformation it is imperative that communities are able to fully understand the implications of the new laws currently being discussed by the Government. Babylove was able to discuss matters with the communities in their local language and in terms that they comprehend so that they were able to fully understand the situation.
Since this January, Babylove has been working with women and youth from Lumbatan in a remote area of Lanao del Sur which is the poorest province in the Philippines. In turn, Lumbatan is one of the poorest municipalities in Lanao del Sur. It has suffered greatly due to conflict As part of the normalization process, she is helping them to get organized so that they can work on their own projects to assist their community in terms of livelihood, education and health.
Your donations are not only providing young people like Babylove with an opportunity to show what good can be done you are also helping poor communities to help themselves.
With your invaluable help through your donations, we have been able to produce our 9th Batch of volunteers to work for peace and development in the Southern Philippines. The 12 volunteers, consisting of 8 Women and 4 Men, were selected from over 130 applicants in June. They then underwent 5 weeks of intensive training during July and early August. The 9th Batch, known as ‘IKHLAS,’ took up their placements in Mindanao and Visayas on September 1st, 2014. Volunteer placements are based in Marawi City, Iligan City, Cebu City and Tacloban City. Volunteers in Mindanao are working on projects mainly related to the current Peace Process. Those placed in Visayas are mainly working on projects related to the rehabilitation after Typhoon Haiyan.For some of our new volunteers, it is their first time to travel away from Mindanao , first time to go on a ship and for most of them, the first time to live and work amongst Christians. The learning curve is steep and the challenges great but we are confident that they have the right aptitude and commitment. We will bring you their stories in the coming year.
As the Peace Process continues to make progress, it is vital that everyone, young and old, is able to have a part. What are our volunteers doing to ensure this happens? KI Alumni and current volunteers have been helping with community consultations across the region about the recent peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a leading rebel group fighting for independence. Such consultations are vital to ensure that agreements reached at the political level are sustainable and supported within the communities affected by violence.Our current volunteers, from Batch Hayat, organized a day for youth awareness at a high school in Marawi City. 257 students attended the event, held in July with the theme "Education and Advocacy for youth in the Philippines". They spent the day learning and talking about the current situation in the Peace Process.Young people represent a critical constituency for ensuring a successful peace process. Its so important that youth become an integral part of local and national governance in order to strengthen their commitment to and understanding of the issues of peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
Your contributions make this all possible
In March of this year, KI met with Rt Hon Lord McConnell. Lord Jack was First Minister of Scotland 2001-2007 and UK Special Representative for Peacebuilding 2008-2010. He wrote a blog about KI and our work and we reproduce it here.
Bridging the divide in the PhilippinesPosted by Lord Jack McConnell on 17 March 2014
Judging the global competition for local peacebuilders organised by Peace Direct in 2013 was a difficult task. The judges were to choose four projects from the dozens of nominations from every continent, and to choose those that were making a real impact, were innovative and were likely to be a good example to others. We agonised over the choices we eventually made, disagreeing in ways that you might expect, based on our different perceptions and experiences. But there was one winning project that deeply inspired me. And last month I had the chance to meet up with Kapamagogopa.Kapamagogopa Inc (KI for short) is based in Mindanao, a huge island in the southern Philippines where conflict has claimed lives and inhibited development for decades. There conflict has at times been very violent, at other times simply persistent. But such conflict has implications way beyond the violence that seeps into the consciousness of Muslims and Christians locally, exaggerating their fears and tensions.In 2005 Mariam Barandia, a civil engineer, took the first steps to establish a volunteering organisation for Muslim youth. The result is KI, which places Muslim youth volunteers in Christian organisations. At first both communities were reluctant – maybe fearful – to welcome this, but over time new understanding has overtaken fear, and friendships made across the religious and cultural divide have lasted.In 12 years, KI has supported 86 volunteers, each of whom today is part of COMVOL, an alumni association that supports new volunteers and continues their work to build understanding and peaceful co-existence. Mariam is still their leader, and she clearly inspires the young people she has supported.I met Mariam with two of her volunteers in Manila last month. I had just spent a week volunteering with VSO and Beyond 2015, a coalition of campaign groups from across the Philippines. Almost everyone I had worked with was a Catholic in this most Catholic of Asian nations, but everyone I asked had heard of KI and were inspired by their work. And they worked hard to ensure that I could meet the amazing Mariam and some KI alumni.Hafsa Madid was a volunteer in KI’s first year, and today she works in Manila in Human Resources for the World Food Programme. She explained to me the particular challenges for a young woman to take this step. Her calm confidence and determination left me sure she would make a huge difference somewhere during her life. She is active in building the network of KI alumni.Ganie Amlain was a volunteer in year five. He comes from the area at the heart of the conflict, and his teenage years may have developed very differently if he had not joined KI. He faced hostility when he volunteered with Kapamagogopa, but his eyes shine when he talks about the experience and he has no regrets. Today he works in the community with young people, and supports more volunteers to take the steps he did.The parties to the conflict in Mindanao have just signed their most significant peace agreement yet. UK experience in Northern Ireland has helped, behind the scenes, to convince them to give peace its best chance. But there are many hurdles still to cross.The Filipino parliament must now deliver the Government’s side of the deal and establish autonomous devolved government across the country. Then peaceful elections can elect a representative assembly. The people and elected representatives of Mindanao will need young ambitious men and women who can help them build a permanent peace and deliver the development that will be the peace dividend. The alumni of Kapamagogopa will, I am sure, be among those first in line: and they will be better prepared than most to secure a peaceful future for their communities.Rt Hon Lord Jack McConnell was UK Special Representative for Peacebuilding 2008-2010
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Lanao del Norte