of the population in Chiapas lives in poverty
of the population of Chiapas are indigenous peoples
25-34 year olds in Mexico do not complete their upper secondary education
Home to one of the largest indigenous populations in Mexico, the State of Chiapas has long been marked by the willingness of these groups to preserve their identity and autonomy. This was manifest in the Zapatista uprising of 1994, which succeeded in obtaining extended rights for indigenous people. However, while Chiapas was determined to retain its cultural distinctiveness within the larger Mexican society, it remains one of the poorest states in Mexico. Poverty and illiteracy rates are high in most municipalities of the State. Experts have listed many challenges, such as adequate access to water and power. One challenge stands out, however: creating positive change in a way that respects local identities and claims to autonomy.
This is the transformation that WPDI was created to address. The approach of the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN) is to train and support young people as transformative insiders. The youth bring external resources, including their desire for change and intuitive knowledge of local realities. We offer the tools: trainings and grants that enable them to mobilize on their own. We want them to be in the driver’s seat and steer change. In a region where, for instance, many citizens speak indigenous languages, our youth, as natives, have a unique capacity to translate universal concepts of peace and non-violence into notions tailored to local situations and challenges. They know how to address the needs and expectations of their communities through actions and initiatives that will spark positive lasting change.
Through our Community Learning Center based in San Cristóbal de las Casas, we strive to reach youth populations in their environment, offering free access to connectivity, library services and various courses in peace education as well as vocational trainings in ICT and entrepreneurship. The CLC also operates two key programs, Cinema for Peace, which teaches values of peace through movies and reflective workshops, and the Business Boot Camp, our facility for incubating small businesses.
Entrepreneurship is indeed a growing dimension of our work with multiple benefits felt by the community through relevant services and jobs creation. One such project has helped train and support indigenous families in farming activities. More than 80 families – 400 people – have started growing their staple foods and selling a surplus on local markets. Fighting poverty and fostering socio-economic inclusion are essential conditions to make peace happen.
Key numbers to understand our impact in Chiapas:
young leaders training 240 local youth
youth-led income-generating projects
Community Learning Center in San Cristóbal de las Casas
SMEs incubated through the Business Boot Camp
students will learn peace directly in the classroom through our Conflict Resolution Education program in schools