Aug 22, 2017

Promoting peace and inclusivity in Peshawar

Young women receiving training from Aware Girls
Young women receiving training from Aware Girls

Saira is a young woman from Peshawar. As a young, disabled girl, Saira was not born into a position of privilege or power. But this hasn’t stopped her building peace where she lives, and helping stop the spread of violent extremism.

Living in Peshawar, Saira saw first hand the impact of young people fighting, and dying, in the name of violent extremism. She decided to do something about it, and use the experiences of others to try and build a solution.

She started reaching out to families who have become the direct victims of terrorist attacks, such as those who had lost family members in terrorist attacks, or whose children had been recruited by the Taliban. Saira encouraged the families to speak about their experiences, and rather than speak bitterly about their experiences, instead help them to promote alternative narratives.

These focused around helping people chose an alternative to violent extremism, so that no more families have to experience the horror of losing a family member. She also encouraged them to speak out about women’s role in building peace, and its importance.

Two women from the families that Saira has reached out to have now joined her to continue her efforts. Together, they are making a database of families who have been victims of terrorist attacks to work with them on inclusive peacebuilding.

Your support makes it possible for people like Saira to learn about the importance of tolerance, women in peacebuilding, and other key issues. With your support we can provide training to more young people like Saira, and help them build peace in their communities, one person at a time. 

Jul 19, 2017

Shedding light on hidden conflicts

Despite the challenges, local peacebuilders continue to do incredible work, every day, to stop war and violence.
Since our last report, we’ve been able to support local peace people building peace in the world’s most war-torn areas.
The conflict in Burundi is one that’s often hidden from the mainstream media, but one that’s seen hundreds of people unfairly imprisoned, and suffering from terrible torture and violence. But with generous support, we’re helping local people to change that. This is Benjamin’s story.

When he was just a child, Benjamin’s family were killed in the Burundian civil war. At the age of 12, he joined an armed rebel group as a child soldier. It was suspected that the army were responsible for killing his family. As the army were predominantly from the Tutsi ethnic group, he came to see all Tutsi’s as a threat. He could never imagine being able to interact peacefully with them after what had happened to his family.

But some time later, he was given the opportunity to turn away from violence. He told us, ‘’I was invited to take part in training on non-violence and reconciliation for young people of different political parties’’. At first he was hesitant, he couldn’t imagine sitting in a room with people he called his enemies. But after some time, out of sheer curiosity, he decided to go to the training.

After the training, he realised that those he thought were his enemies were suffering for the same reasons he was. ‘’During the talks with others, I realised that we have the same problems. We are all victims of those who take advantage of us for their own interests without worrying about our common future’’.

With your support, we can help spread the word about hidden conflicts like that in Burundi. We can help more people living in the world’s deadliest war zones to work together to find peace.

May 30, 2017

Gulalai Ismail, co-founder of Aware Girls shares her life's work through a TED talk.

Photo: TEDxExeter
Photo: TEDxExeter

In April this year, Gulalai Ismail travelled to Exeter, Devon, and took centre stage on a red dot at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre.

For her bravery, innovation, and dedication to peace, Gulalai was invited to give a TED talk as part of TEDxExeter, an annual event celebrating the world’s most inspirational thinkers.

In front of almost 900 people in Exeter University, and joined by thousands of others watching online, Gulalai shared the story of her community, and how she realised she must help tackle violent extremism in Peshawar, Pakistan.

She told of the day that a woman in her village had come home to find the body of her son on her doorstep. A year prior, he had joined the Taliban. Seeing the utter despair of the woman at the preventable death of her son, Gulalai realised that she must help the other families in her community, including her own, to avoid this fate.

Aged just 16, she founded Aware Girls with her sister Saba to provide training to the young people where she lived, and offer them an alternative to intolerance and violence.

It is only thanks to people like you that Gulalai is able to share her incredible story. Only through your support is Aware Girls able to grow, and continue to give Pakistan’s young people the opportunity to realise their rights, access equal opportunities, and pursue a life of peace.

Thank you for helping Aware Girls to make this possible.

Gulalai’s talk will soon be available to watch on YouTube. In the meantime, check out her profile on the TEDxExeter website.

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