Inspiration in the face of adversity is the common thread weaving throughout this month’s newsletter as we share with you updates from around the globe including stories of heroic work by strong female leaders, breaking boundaries to strengthen societies and the dynamic possibilities of leveraging technology to promote grassroots partnerships for global change.

Watch a brief video overview of this newsletter: 


We recently caught up with Global Associate Malya Villard, although not in Haiti running KOFAVIV as you would normally expect to see her, but in Philadelphia. Due to death threats against her for her public role in fighting for justice for victims of sexual and gender-based violence, Malya has been forced to temporarily continue her important work from the US while she applies for asylum. We are excited to share this interview with Malya where she speaks passionately and courageously about her work.

A quick update of KOFAVIV’s work over the past two months reveals that twenty-five trained male agents continue to work in high risk areas to prevent violence and provide support when women are attacked. In addition, the organization’s call center is up and running. As a testament to its importance, within the 15 day period of April 15 to April 30 the center received 153 calls, two from victims of sexual violence, 104 calls for information and 47 calls for advice. Malya and the KOFAVIV staff will continue despite constant threats to ensure the safety of those in their community and a brighter future for Haiti.

Community Leadership Course

Inspiration and an update on the work in Haiti was only one piece of our conversation with Malya. We were pleased to continue the interview with Malya to hear her experience, wisdom and knowledge of strategic community organizing when resources are scarce and the work can be dangerous.

Through our interview, we took the lessons and insights Malya shared with us and are working to shape them into a case study for a new pilot Community Leadership course we are developing. Over the past several months the Goldin Institute has been working with the Danish Design School KaosPilots and a growing network of partners to develop a course designed to support global community driven social change.

In early May, the Goldin Institute hosted the KaosPilots team at our offices as they helped design and develop this virtual classroom, workshop and think tank. Structured as a series of modules to explore community-driven social change, a set of participants from around the globe will take a 12 week course together online. The term “together” is crucial as participants will explore topics such as leading adaptive change, asset based engagement and mobilizing community resources through a curriculum that values shared learning and the local knowledge of each course member. Participants take what is learned from the module, implement it in their own community and reconvene through the app to discuss their lessons learned and share best practices and principles. Look for an announcement on how to apply for this groundbreaking course in upcoming newsletters!


Adversity takes the form of growing violent unrest in the Philippines. The Mindanao region where our global Associate Dr. Susana Anayatin is located has suffered from ongoing conflict for many years but the violence and displacement has increased greatly since January when Philippines Special Forces conducted a raid in Tukanalipao. Sadly, the aftermath of the raid has combined with clashes between local groups leading to a dramatic increase in violence as well as tens of thousands of displaced families. Further, tensions with the Government of the Philippines as well as disagreements within the negotiating partners are threatening to derail the ongoing peace process aimed at solving the crisis in Mindanao through a negotiated settlement granting greater autonomy and development to the region.

Despite the conflict, Susana and her team are moving forward and have brought the number of schools in the region with newly installed access to safe drinking water up to 98. As part of her continuing work to promote sustainability and ecological preservation, Susana led a series of trainings on Environmental Protection and Cultural Sensitivity to over 129 soldiers of the 61D Division Training School in the Philippine Army in honor of Earth Day celebrations.

Susana’s partnership with the local communities throughout Mindanao has made possible a fragile but significant collaboration between the Philippine army and rebel groups which continues to bring clean water to schools and communities across the Mindanao region despite the increased tensions in the region. Both rebel and military leaders have declared that bringing life-saving clean water access to the schools in the region through this project is a way to “win the peace” rather than fight the war.


Time and time again we have been exposed to the disturbing reality of youth participation in militant violence. Parents in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia have called for assistance in addressing the growing threat of their children being recruited or forced to join Al-Shabaab and other armed militant groups.

The Goldin Institute and Arigatou International are expanding our partnership to address this problem of child recruitment. On January 14 and 15, twenty-four leaders from local grassroots initiatives gathered together for a workshop to discuss strategies for Countering Violent Extremism. The discussion was robust and varied, beginning with an identification of what makes communities vulnerable to violent extremism and ending with a commitment to support a youth-led peace ambassadors program. For more information, you can read the full report Countering Violent Extremism workshops here.

Watch our next newsletter for more information on the Community Leadership Course as well as some exciting additions to our growing team from Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar!

Until next time, remember that you can get the latest news as it happens by joining our online community at Facebook and Twitter.