Peace is contagious. This is our core belief and the basis of our strategy to promote peace and sustainable development in vulnerable and violence-affected communities around the world. That takes the form of cohorts of young peacemakers that we train and empower to spark transformative change in their communities. Each of them has the power to reach hundreds and thousands of people per year. They are the very agents of our strategy to build peace in places that need it most.
Building a cohort of peacemakers begins with the selection of a group of talented young women and men from fragile communities whom we enroll in collaboration with local organizations and institutions. We train them intensively over one year in Conflict Resolution Education, Information & Communications Technology, Business & Entrepreneurship, Human Rights Education, Public Speaking, and Life Skills. In many instances, this process also includes trauma healing sessions to help those who have been through dreadful experiences regain peace within their hearts and minds.
Once the youths successfully complete their training, they return to their home communities where they train groups of local youths and undertake peacebuilding initiatives and community development projects, all with WPDI’s support. These peacebuilding initiatives can range from holding trainings for local government leaders on human rights issues to teaching Conflict Resolution Education to students at primary and secondary schools to holding Community Dialogues to discuss and resolve contentious issues. Because we want them to have a deep social impact and to be self-reliant so they can work without our direct support even after our intervention is over, the peacemakers are also trained to become entrepreneurs. They design and develop their own businesses. We provide mentorship, support, and backstopping: they are behind the wheel. They are the ones driving change.
Since 2012, WPDI has trained more than 1500 youth peacemakers and they are having an impact each and every day.