Peace Day activities from South America

By Lissette Mateus Roa, Co-Facilitator, Goldin Global Fellows

In 1981, the United Nations declared that September 21 would be observed as the International Day of Peace, devoting the day to ‘commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace within and among all nations and peoples’. Now, the day is observed worldwide with many grassroots leaders and activists using it as a day to promote their activities and causes. Our 2022 Global Fellows (Spanish Edition) have been doing just that, by utilizing this opportunity to engage with their communities, peers, politicians, and civil society groups to further messages and actions around peace and healing. See what some of them have been up to below.

En 1981, las Naciones Unidas declararon que el 21 de septiembre sería señalado como el Día Internacional de la Paz, dedicando el día a “conmemorar y fortalecer los ideales de paz dentro y entre todas las naciones y pueblos”. Ahora, el día es celebrado en todo el mundo por muchos líderes y activistas de base que lo ven como un día para promover sus actividades y causas. Nuestros Global Fellows 2022 (edición en español) han estado haciendo exactamente eso, al utilizar esta oportunidad para interactuar con sus comunidades, pares, políticos y grupos de la sociedad civil para promover mensajes y acciones en torno a la paz y la sanación. Vea lo que algunos de ellos han estado haciendo a continuación.

Peace agreement progress in Colombia

By Geiner Alfonso Arrieta Hurtado, Goldin Global Fellow from Colombia

For the International Day of Peace, I participated in a discussion on the commemoration of the 5 years of Colombia’s Peace Agreement organised by ONU and Conversa Foundation at the National University of Colombia, in La Paz Cesar. The Peace Agreement in Colombia, signed by the FARC-EP and the national government, yielded great expectations for Colombians to make our dream of total peace come true once and for all. That hope was ongoing for six years, starting with the dialogues in 2012 until the sign off day on Nov 24th 2016. It gave us optimism for the new generations for whom we do not want to inherit the same fifty years of sadness which we endured due to the armed conflict. All those who signed off on the peace agreement believe in stopping the armed struggle and share a desire to see democracy within our politics. We strongly trust in peace in territories where the will of doing things better is present in governors, institutions, and population.

Therefore, it is necessary to stop systematic murders to affected population, social leaders, and peace agreement signatories. Peace is not just about the ceasefire and halting shooting, but it is about personal wellbeing too.

En el Día Internacional de la Paz, participé en un conversatorio sobre la conmemoración de los 5 años del acuerdo de paz en Colombia, organizado por la ONU y la Fundación Conversa, en la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, en La Paz Cesar. El Acuerdo de Paz en Colombia, firmado por las FARC-EP y el Gobierno Nacional, generó grandes expectativas en los colombianos de hacer realidad, de una vez por todas, nuestro sueño de tener una paz total. Esa esperanza duró seis años, desde los diálogos de paz que empezaron en el año 2012 hasta el día de la firma del acuerdo de paz el 24 de noviembre de 2016. Nos dió optimismo para las nuevas generaciones, a las que no queremos heredar los mismos cincuenta años de tristeza que sufrimos por el conflicto armado. Todos los que firmaron el acuerdo de paz creen en la necesidad de detener la lucha armada y comparten el deseo de ver una democracia verdadera dentro de nuestra política. Confiamos firmemente en la paz en los territorios donde la voluntad de hacer las cosas mejor esté presente en gobernantes, instituciones y la población civil.

Por ello, es necesario frenar los asesinatos sistemáticos a la población afectada, líderes sociales y firmantes del acuerdo de paz. La paz no se trata solo del alto al fuego y la interrupción de los disparos, sino también del bienestar personal.

Food, Culture, and Memory for facilitating Peace in Argentina

From Diana Rocio Gomez Torres, Goldin Global Fellow from Argentina

On September 22nd, Trenzar Memorias, Network of studies on memory and culture, carried out a workshop on "Cooking memories: What does what we eat tell us about our society and culture?" within the framework of the International Day of Peace at the Tecnópolis student fair in the city of Buenos Aires. Our objective was to ignite within the high school students the curiosity for cultural studies and about memory from their daily lives; as well as contributing to the construction of peace through the recognition and respect for cultural differences in Latin America".

"Self-recognition and that of cultural differences are fundamental factors to building peace."

Trenzar Memorias, Red de estudios sobre memoria y cultura llevará a cabo el taller “Cocinando memorias: ¿Qué nos dice lo que comemos sobre nuestra sociedad y cultura?” El 22 de septiembre en el marco del día Internacional de la Paz y de la feria estudiantil Tecnópolis en la ciudad de Buenos Aires. Nuestro objetivo es despertar en las y los estudiantes de secundaria de Buenos Aires la curiosidad por los estudios culturales y sobre la memoria a partir de sus cotidianidades; así como contribuir a la construcción de la paz a través del reconocimiento y respeto de las diferencias culturales en América Latina.

"El reconocimiento propio y el de las diferencias culturales son factores fundamentales en la construcción de la paz."

Promoting community dialogue between migrant populations and locals along the Venezuelan-Colombian border

From Natasha Duque Torres, Goldin Global Fellow from Venezuela

“Last week we carried out some activities in commemoration of the International Day of Peace. We visited a settlement in the rural area of Cúcuta, which is a Colombian city which borders Venezuela; here resides a large Venezuelan migrant population living alongside the Colombian population, where both groups have been welcomed and integrated. During the activity, we not only strengthened the construction of peace, mediation, and conflict resolution for the leaders of the community, but we also had a space for recreation with the children to create strategies for them to be the builders of peace in their communities. They called themselves the first brigade of "Guardians of Peace" of the Belén settlement.

The goal of the “Guardians of Peace” is for children to learn about peace and replicate what they have learned at home, so that during episodes of differences or conflicts that arise in their home and their communities they play an essential role to solve conflicts. Fulfilling their dream of being peacemakers.

“La semana pasada decidimos realizar una actividad en conmemoración del día internacional de la paz, visitamos un asentamiento del área rural de Cúcuta, Norte de Santander, el cual está integrado por población migrante venezolana y población colombiana que acogieron y apostaron a la integración.

Durante la actividad no solo realizamos ejercicios de fortalecimiento en construcción de paz, mediación y resolución de conflictos con las lideresas de la comunidad, sino que además tuvimos un espacio de esparcimiento con los niños; Esto con la finalidad de crear estrategias para que ellos mismos sean los constructores de paz de sus comunidades. Durante la jornada, los niños se autodenominaron como “La Primera Brigada de Guardianes de la Paz" del asentamiento Belén. El objetivo de los Guardianes de la Paz es que lo niños aprendan diferentes temas en materia de paz y que puedan a su vez replicar esto en sus casas; así, durante los episodios de diferencias o conflictos que surjan en su hogar y sus comunidades, ellos pueden jugar un papel fundamental para resolverlos. Ellos sueñan con ser forjadores de paz.”


YOLRED Begins Apprenticeship Program for Children Born of War

By Geoffrey Omony, 2018 Goldin Global Fellow, Uganda

We are delighted to announce the launch of YOLRED’s new apprentice program for Children Born of War (CBOW). In the Northern Ugandan context, CBOW refers to children who were born during captivity to combatants under the Lord’s Resistance Army. The war ended over a decade ago, but there are now approximately 6,000-8,000 CBOW living in Northern Uganda, many in Gulu district (where YOLRED is based). YOLRED have carried out extensive activities with the war-affected community, and we have found that what is most required for children born of war is economic empowerment and support. There are organisations conducting research projects and doing advocacy work, like ours, to try and reduce stigma against CBOW on a mass scale, but what is really lacking for CBOW is adequate livelihood opportunities. Even within organisations which try to tackle discrimination against CBOW there is a lack of job opportunities for them.

For this reason, YOLRED began thinking about a new initiative specifically designed to address this gap and to offer a form of economic empowerment which was not being attended to elsewhere, and thus in February 2022, we began this apprenticeship. YOLRED was provided with financial assistance to pilot the apprenticeship program for 6 months, to test the model and assess how it could work in practice. This donation funded the pilot program from February – July 2022; recognizing the importance of this apprenticeship and what it promotes, we have been awarded a grant from the CBOW project to fund this program for an additional year.

“The importance of this apprenticeship and what it promotes has been recognized by the CBOW Project; we are delighted to announce that we have been awarded a grant from them to continue this program for an additional year.”

This project was born out of an identified need amongst war-affected youth and is focused on children born of war (who are a category of marginalized youth in Northern Uganda), with greater attention paid to girls who face greater burdens. This program has been initiated to provide a career pathway for these marginalised young people as well as on-the-job training, and ultimately economic and social empowerment. Economic empowerment is the best way to support those most impacted by the conflict, and something we at YOLRED believe is essential to the continuation of a peaceful existence in the region.

The current apprentice, who is a young woman, has been employed with YOLRED since February 2022; her parents are categorized as the formerly abducted, and she was born in captivity. Her parents managed to escape the conflict when she was a young girl, but nonetheless she found reintegration a challenge due to environment she returned to, which stigmatizes CBOW. Of this opportunity, she states the following:

“Being an apprentice at YOLRED is a tremendous and miraculous thing that has ever happened to me. It has empowered me to be able to support myself and my close associates. Many people think that children born of war cannot do anything productive in life as a result of the traumatic experiences we incurred. This job will allow me to prove them wrong because I am able to challenge their negative perceptions about children born in captivity and show the positive ways in which we can work and interact with others, reducing the level of stigma on me and other children born of war. With my experience as an apprentice in mind, I feel any apprenticeship opportunity will be a great help to my brothers and sisters who were also Born of War.”

Having run this program for six months we have recognized its extreme value and importance not just the individual apprentice but for the wider CBOW community in Northern Uganda. Positions like this help to combat stigma against CBOW, especially for girls and women, but can also encourage other organisations and companies to follow suit and offer similar programs.

Extensive research has been done in Northern Uganda to assess the impact of the protracted conflict (which took place from 1987-2006) on children, including children abducted to serve in the Lord’s Resistance Army and children who were born in captivity. Many ex-child soldiers and CBOW who have returned still do not consider themselves free; they remain confined due to post-conflict struggles and excessive stigma and exclusion. As an organization which supports peace in the region, we are particularly focused on providing economic opportunities to those who face stigma or marginalization as a result of the conflict. There is also a lot of intergenerational trauma for children born in captivity who, if their background becomes known, are often labelled the dehumanising terms ‘rebel children’. These children experience a lot of social exclusion and bullying (which can lead to school-dropouts or desire to move to other cities), as they are often not accepted by extended family members and peers. Which is why this apprenticeship program is so valuable and important.

YOLRED adopt a ‘nothing about us without us’ policy and our initiatives are informed by local impact agendas. Our efforts are rooted in the region and led by Acholi people, rather than an approach which is imposed on us, and we centre survivors-needs in all of our programs.


Hands-On Peace: how youth leadership leads to peace 

By Jamal Alkirnawi, 2018 Goldin Global Fellow, Rahat, Israel

"We all feel that the violence in Israeli society is increasing and threatening to get out of control. To prevent this grim scenario, it is not enough to deploy police forces and create deterrence. We must deal with the unrestrained functioning of the social networks that intensify the conflict in general and among the younger generation in particular."

The availability of social networks and electronic devices has created echo-chambers that drastically reduce the amount of information that contradicts and challenges our accepted perceptions. This significant drop in exposure to reliable and critical sources of information affects the youth specifically, resulting in herd behavior of acting without critical and adequate thoughts. This phenomenon can be explained by the growing sense of individualization among the post-1980 generations. These generations are the Y, Millennials, Z, and A generations, which we understand as Gen Y refers to those born between 1980 and 1985;  Millennials were born between 1986 and 1995; Generation Z was born from 1996 until 2010; and the newest generation, generation alpha, are those born between 2010 and 2020s.

The culture of the internet interwoven with traditional beliefs oftentimes creates a contradiction between old and new values. Consequently, the tension we are observing in our Israeli communities in general, and particularly the Bedouin community, represents a period of transition from tradition to modernization. On one hand, our older generation Y group maintains their norms and practices; their traditions. On the other hand as the era of the internet permeates social networks, individualization has rapidly become a symbol of freedom and liberty. This, in turn, shapes the identity, language, and behavior of the members of Arab society. For instance, the usual norm in the Arab community is that families can make important decisions in determining the course of individuals’ lives. However, since the rise in internet usage the dynamic has become less and less reliant on the family and community. Everyone is occupied with his or her own virtual world and unable to create social contacts with outside environments, which is, in this case, their community.

In the recent escalation and the extreme cases of violence in the cities involved, we have seen the extreme consequences of this phenomenon. Teenagers got carried away by a wave of radicalization and instigation; they took to the streets to sow anarchy. Notable cases of this phenomenon are the events of “Operation Guardian of the Walls”, in which violent incidents and large-scale riots took place across Israel in May 2021. Hundreds were injured and three casualties were reported. This was overwhelming proof demonstrating the need to better educate teenage boys and girls to reduce the severe violence and incitement on digital networks.

To address the issue we initiated a new project in 2021. It is operated by the New Dawn Association in the Negev, a Bedouin-Jewish partnership located in the city of Rahat. So far, over 600 students in the Rahat area have been participating and benefiting from the series of educational sessions. We are currently looking into expanding the outreach to include the youth from nearby areas. The project promotes leadership programs and imparting skills to youth in the Bedouin society. Our long-term goal is to develop a generation of online activists who promote respectful democratic discourse and curb the violence and ranting therein.

To do this, we devote a lot of our resources to creating knowledge. We develop a wealth of expertise and tools that help the youth navigate the internet well. These include basic knowledge of principles of democracy, the difference between freedom of expression and incitement/hate speech, and how to create respectful discourses when engaging in online dialogues.

Our initiative of educating the Bedouin youth could not have been rolled out without the support from the partnerships, and foundations that sponsored in each and every capacity. We sincerely thank Eli Hurvitz and Foundation קרן שותפות for the generous and indispensable championship.

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