Train 15 people to build peace in their community

by Peace Direct
Train 15 people to build peace in their community
Asmin - Photo: Greg Funnel
Asmin - Photo: Greg Funnel

Asmin works for Kapamagogopa Incorporated (KI), a local peacebuilding organisation based on the Philippine island of Mindanao. We spoke to Asmin to hear about her work, how violence affected her family, and her hopes for a peaceful future. This is her story:

"My name is Asmin Monib. I’m 27 years old and I’m from Marawi City in the Philippines, on the island of Mindanao."

How did you get involved with Kapamagogopa Incorporated (KI)?

"I decided to become a volunteer with local organisation KI back in 2013 during my time at university, as part of their program placing Muslim volunteers in communities across Mindanao. I was initially placed in the Visayas region, in Sibu to be specific, for around a year. I was placed in a non-Muslim organisation in Sibu, which supports people with disabilities, and also provide services for the deaf community."

Can you share a particular memory that stands out from your volunteer placement?

"During my placement in Visayas I acted as a Filipino sign language interpreter, which was one of the big achievements. Having an interpreter really enables the hearing-impaired to have a voice, and for their message to be shared. I was involved in a case involving a young child and by supporting them to communicate through sign language I helped to ensure the deaf child had access to their rights and had their voice heard.

I would like to invite other young people to get involved in KI’s volunteer program. Every little thing really counts. I’d say to young people “do not waste your time on Facebook and on social media, those things. Maybe you can do something – be productive, become a volunteer.”

I would like to invite other young people to get involved in KI’s volunteer program. Every little thing really counts. I’d say to young people “do not waste your time on Facebook and social media, those things. Maybe you can do something – be productive, become a volunteer.”

During your time in the Visayas community did you see a change in the way the community responded to you as a Muslim?

"Yes I did. I really tried my best to share my culture with others. During my first week in the organisation, I made a presentation about being a Muslim, about the culture of the Maranaos (a predominantly-Muslim community originating on the Philippine island of Mindanao). I explained how we dress, how we eat, what are those attitudes and other that they may be interested in. It helped people understand that being a Muslim does not mean being a terrorist – that our religion is also very peaceful. We really exchanged and interacted, sharing our thoughts with our non-Muslim friends.

I really felt a change throughout my placement. At the beginning, when I was first immersed within the community, I did not feel that diversity was fully present. However, after just a couple of weeks of Muslims and non-Muslims coming together through the volunteer program and sharing common goals, religion and culture, I felt that the community I was working in became more open-minded and approachable.

We say that we build [peace] through this work to tackle prejudice between Muslims and Christians – promoting acceptance, respect and trust despite our differences."

By donating to this project, you are helping our local partners to support people like Asmin to contribute towards the health, safety, and peacefulness of their communities. A further donation of just £24 pounds today could pay for 1 months worth of peacebuilding training, while a generous donation of £216 could fully train a peacebuilder over the next 9 months. With your support, we can provide more opportunities to people like Asmin, and continue to help them to build peace in their communities. Thank you.

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Credit: Greg Funnel
Credit: Greg Funnel

After violence in her hometown of Marawi, Fatima was forced to flee her home. Faced with an uncertain future, she was helped by our local partner in the Philippines, Kapamagogopa Incorporated (KI), who set up a camp for those, like Fatima, displaced from Marawi. Away from the fear of violence, she now works in the camp garden, and hopes to send her children back to school. This is her story.

“My name is Fatima [...] I am 45 years old and I am from Marawi in the Philippines.

I have been living in a camp for IDPs (internally displaced persons) for the last year. I moved here after the Marawi siege, a sudden outbreak of violence perpetrated by an ISIS-linked group on 23rd May 2017.

The day of the siege, we didn’t leave right away because we thought it was just an ambush, or just a few bullets. Then the following day we saw many members of the community fleeing with their children, taking their things, taking all their family to leave. After we fled, we were on the move for a couple of months. My nephew is from Pantar, and he reached out to us and told us that a temporary camp had been set up there by a local organisation.

I have no husband, so it was really hard for me to bring all my 8 children with me, and to find the resources we needed to stay safe.

I have 8 children in total. 3 are in the capital Manila, and 5 are here with me in the camp.

The conflict here has really affected me as a parent. We used to live together, me and my 8 children. After the violence, three decided to go to Manila, and now they are far away from me. Since the siege, the others had to stop going to school, I can’t afford to send them anymore. It’s really hard for a single mother like me. I have no husband, so it was really hard for me to bring all my 8 children with me, and to find the resources we needed to stay safe.

We thank god for KI. It means a lot to us because it helps to lift the anxiety we have been feeling since the conflict. We are lifted by KI’s programmes and their support. The team have helped us to move on and make something here in Pantar.

It was hard at the beginning as there was no real relief or aid, aside from a small amount from the government once a month, but there was sometimes nothing at all. KI, the organisation who set up the camp for those displaced from Marawi, have really helped us. They have really helped us to reclaim our independence, giving out small grants to people like me in the camp. We thank god for KI. Their help means a lot to us because it helps to lift the anxiety we have been feeling since the conflict. We are lifted by their support. The team have helped us to move on and make something here in Pantar.

We used to have our livelihoods in Marawi, we had a store and we sold goods. Now we have our garden.

We took part in training nearby in Cagayan de Oro city were we learnt about organic farming and gardening. There were lots of different people involved. Sometimes there are three members of the same family, sometimes there can be 80 people doing the gardening, it brings people together. We can speak to other members of the community who are going through the same experiences as us.

Sometimes there are three members of the same family, sometimes there can be 80 people doing the gardening, it brings people together.

I want to go back to Marawi, but for now I don’t think there is anything to go back to, as the house was devastated.

Still, I hope to go back one day and bring my family back together. It’s really important to me to be able to send my children back to school and help their lives return to normal.”

By donating to this project, you are helping our local partners to support people like Fatima to contribute towards the health, safety, and peacefulness of their communities. A further donation of just £24 pounds today could pay for 1 months worth of peacebuilding training, while a generous donation of £216 could fully train a peacebuilder over the next 9 months. With your support, we can provide more opportunities to people like Fatima, and continue to help them to build peace in their communities. Thank you.

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Dania Ali/Stars Foundation/Aware Girls
Dania Ali/Stars Foundation/Aware Girls

When Jan saw the Taliban overtake her village in northern Pakistan and begin to brainwash her friends and family with hate speech, she felt compelled to stop the them, and begin to teach her community about peace and conflict resolution instead. In 2013, she attended training with Peace Direct's local partner in Pakistan, Aware Girls, during which she learned about how to effectively combat the Taliban’s Islamist agenda.  She now gives lectures about countering violent-extremism to children in her community. This is her story:

‘I always liked reading and from early childhood, I would read anything I could get my hands on. I read books on Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Indo-Pak Partition, which had a strong impact on me as a person.’

When [the] Taliban started taking over our area, I didn’t know what to do. I knew how to write, so I started writing against them. They used to collect funds for constructing mosques and started conducting three-day trainings [where] they would preach hatred against [the] army and other people.’

 ‘I was never very religious, so I was not attracted to them. They slowly took the best students of my class, brainwashed them and used them for their own gains. I lost most of my friends, one-by-one to these Taliban who were used to carry out suicide attacks in Afghanistan and Waziristan. Some of the students who went to college were also trapped when they returned to Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in their summer holidays. Mullahs inducted them in their trainings and sent them to Afghanistan where they carried out suicide attacks and lost their lives.

‘Writing against [the] Taliban did not seem enough. I felt the need to somehow stop [them], so I, along with a few of my friends, started to educate youth about peace and conflict resolution. I advised them to keep away from such groups.’

‘In 2013, I came across Aware Girls,  and [began to attend] their training [sessions]. The most beneficial part of their training for me was the clarity they gave on the Taliban and their agenda. I sent some of the youth I work with to their trainings as well. I started giving lectures on peace, conflict resolution and women’s history in the trainings organized by Aware Girls.

At the same time, I continued conducting sessions for youth in the FATA, trying to save them from being taken over by the Taliban. I would educate them about what Islam actually says; citing references from Quran and Hadith in order to show them how they were being miss led from religion. Then I would tell them about the importance of education, take them to Peshawar for exposure visits to show them how educated people in developed cities are living peaceful lives.’

Gradually, I started conducting sessions with the youth who were being trained by Taliban. The first two sessions would be the most dangerous, because I would either convince them of what I was saying, in which case I could save them, but in the cases where I failed to convince them, they snitched to Taliban about my activities. Their threats turned into attacks, from which I escaped, fortunately.’

‘One of my students, Imran, who is very dear to me, had started attending trainings of Taliban when he was in the 4th grade. Fortunately, because he is so close to me, I was able to revert him and sent him back to regular school. Now he is in the 8th grade. He writes very good poetry and looks after my library, which I have opened for youth to expand their horizons on the world, peace and pluralism.’ 

‘Things have changed considerably since the operation started. I hope that all this militancy ends soon.’

Your support creates opportunities for people like Jan to develop their skills and contribute to health, safety, and peace in their communities. With your support, we can provide training to more young women like Jan, and help them practice peace and enable others to embrace peace within their communities. Like Jan, every individual who benefits from this project can have an exponential impact and inspire others to find alternatives to conflict.


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For Nabila, a young woman from the Peshawar province of northern Pakistan, “religious teaching is at odds with modern education”.  

In her community, the Taliban hold great influence, meaning that girls educated above primary level are few and far between. This, according to Nabila, is because the Taliban promote ''a cultural idea that educating girls spoils the mind,” and due to education in Peshawar being “led by Mullahs,” who many fear to challenge as “they could give you Fatwa.”

Despite the constant threat of violence and persecution, Nabila has begun to attend training sessions with Aware Girls - a local organisation partnered with Peace Direct – who are teaching her and other young people how to promote peace, tolerance, and women's rights in Pakistan.

“I am young and there are other young boys and girls who are trained. We speak for our rights and the right of other young girls. We challenge the teaching of the Mullahs, that way it may take many years, but we can change the attitude.”

Your support creates opportunities for people like Nabila to develop their skills and contribute to health, safety, and peace in their communities. With your support, we can provide training to more young women like Nabila, and help them practice peace and enable others to embrace peace within their communities. Like Nabila, every individual who benefits from this program can have an exponential impact and inspire others to find alternatives to violent extremism.

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Organization Information

Peace Direct

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @peacedirect
Project Leader:
Oscar Lester
London, United Kingdom

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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