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 support 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 active vectors of our strategy for peace.
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. Upon their selection, we train them intensively for a year in conflict resolution education, information and communications technology, business and entrepreneurship, human rights education, public speaking, and life skills. In many instances, the process will include trauma healing sessions to help those who have been through traumatic 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 with us and undertake peacebuilding initiatives and community development projects. These peacebuilding initiatives can range from holding trainings for local government leaders on relevant human rights issues to teaching conflict resolution education to students in 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 be self-reliant that will help them continue working beyond our direct intervention, the peacemakers are also entrepreneurs. They design and develop their own businesses. Our role is to provide mentorship support and backstopping. They are behind the wheel. They are the ones driving change.
Since 2012, WPDI has trained more than 1400 youth peacemakers and they are having an impact each and every day.