Join the Washington Network on Children in Armed Conflict (WNCAC) on June 16th at 9:00am EST as we hear from the young people leading education initiatives to build peace and resilience within their communities in Nigeria, India, Colombia, Morocco and Syria. An interactive discussion will follow the presentation.
In conflict, the world typically looks at young people as either victims or villains. As victims, children lack power and must be protected; as villains, young people are blamed for violence and instability. But around the world, young women and young men are braving the many risks that violent conflict brings and are working tirelessly as partners for peace.
This event features five young people who are building peace and resilience within their communities through a variety of education initiatives. In Nigeria, Colombia, India, Morocco,and inside Syria and neighboring countries, these youth-led initiatives not only explore new ways to help improve learning outcomes for students from low-income, violence-affected and marginalized communities, but also strengthen their resilience to violent conflict through:
- training students and teachers on conflict transformation and critical inquiry in conflict-affected areas of India;
- introducing “mindfulness” for improved social emotional learning through school interventions in the violent coastal city of Tumaco, Colombia;
- training children from low-income communities in Nigeria on global citizenship and peacebuilding;
- providing a safe space for children living in the worst slums of Morocco through a community center that offers tutoring lessons, language courses, civic education, computer, arts and sports;
- sponsoring schools and providing workshops that combine education and trauma-based care to empower Syrian refugee children.
Their programs address both the heart and mind of young people in conflict areas to strengthen their resilience; helping to improve traditional learning outcomes, as well as building social and emotional intelligence, caring for trauma, and providing conflict transformation and peacebuilding skills.
Victoria Ibiwoye is an educator passionate about transformative learning for community children. Through her organisation OneAfricanChild Foundation for Creative Learning, she is strengthening the leadership capacity of children from low income communities in Nigeria by providing trainings on Global Citizenship Education and Peacebuilding. She is also a fellow of Generation Change, an initiative of the United States Institute of Peace, where she has received professional training on Peacebuilding and Conflict Management. In return, she has served as a Generation Change facilitator, sharing her experience with young peacebuilders from Tunisia and Kenya in a training held in Casablanca, Morocco.
Kh. Samuel Poumai is a facilitator and trainer in peace education for Standing Together to Enable Peace Trust (STEP), an organization that works towards building a free, just, non-violent, sustainable, equal and mindful society through education, advocacy and action in India. Samuel’s work to build a culture of peace is motivated by his upbringing in Manipur, a state in northeastern India experiencing ongoing violence between ethnic groups and decades of insurgency and militarization. He joined STEP in 2010, and conducts trainings for youth, children and teachers in at-risk communities on conflict transformation, critical inquiry and non-violence in Kashmir, Delhi and Manipur. Samuel holds a Master’s degree in Sociology and is trained in conflict transformation.
Paula Ramírez Diazgranados is the Co-Director of the program RESPIRA, which is an innovative school intervention program that seeks to introduce Mindfulness into Colombian public schools in order to foster social emotional learning, promote teacher and student wellbeing and make important contributions to the efforts the country is making towards peacebuilding. As Co-Director, she has developed program curricula, a train-the-trainers program and diverse fundraising efforts, and is currently implementing the full school intervention program in 3 schools by coaching over 60 teachers. Her work is focused on Tumaco (Colombian Pacific Coast), a region heavily affected by diverse types of violence resulting from the armed conflict of the past 20 years. She holds a B.A degree in Anthropology and a M.A. in Conflict Transformation.
Soukaina Hamia is a founding member of Idmaj Neighbourhoods Association, a non-governmental organization that protects at-risk children and youth from underserved and marginalized communities, where she served as President for six years and was recently elected as Secretary General. Soukaina is also Deputy Director of Sidi Moumen Cultural Center, which is run by Idmaj and gives children and young people from the slums a safe place to help them avoid delinquency, drug addiction and extremism through tutoring lessons, language courses, civic education, sports, music, theater, art and initiation to computers for 450 children a day. She holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy with a specialization in the Middle East and North Africa region from Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco.
Nousha Kabawat is the founder and director of Project Amal ou Salam, a volunteer-run grassroots organization that sponsors schools and provides workshops for Syrian refugee children. The organization uses music, art, sports, photography and team-building activities to teach the children about trust and unity and help them deal with the trauma they have sustained. In addition to running workshops in refugee areas in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and inside Syria, Project Amal ou Salam also sponsors schools in these countries and responds to urgent needs of the Syrian refugee community. Nousha is also currently a Project Coordinator at Search for Common Ground in Lebanon working on projects that promote women’s inclusion. She holds a master’s degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University and a graduate certificate in Global Journalism from the University of Toronto.