Thank you for making an impact in 2022
Protecting Lives and Human Dignity
Throughout 2022, your support made it possible for NP to save lives, ease suffering amidst violent settings, and protect human dignity.
You, NP, and communities around the world all work together to make this happen. “NP has become our partner. They are there for any kind of problems,” shared Abe Salipada, a farmer from the Philippines. “They monitor the situation, and we report from the ground—if there are people caught in conflict, or there is food shortage… This is how the people have come to understand that NP is an ally to the civilians.” In the middle of a long-standing conflict in his community, Abe has also used the skills he learned at NP to step up and protect his neighbors from violence.
Many of the people we work alongside are looking for solidarity in action—for people to show up for one another. In Darfur, Sudan, NP is reaching both displaced African communities and nomadic Arab communities, from IDP camps to remote areas—even when other humanitarians aren’t able or willing to work with the nomads. And when 70 families in an Iraqi settlement were given eviction notices in the middle of winter, NP advocated for them to stay. These families wanted to return to their original homes they had fled, but didn’t have the resources to do so yet. The forced eviction would leave them with nowhere to go, especially dangerous during winter. But with your support, the evictions stopped and families felt renewed hope for their future.
In each case, our solidarity is rooted in the recognition of the immense strength that lies within communities themselves; our protection is rooted in relationships and partnerships. Ever since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, local Ukrainian organizations have been on the frontlines keeping the most affected civilians safe and cared for. NP partners with these local volunteer groups to ensure Ukrainians have the resources and support they need to evacuate hundreds from the frontlines and ensure their access to legal support and material aid.
Bringing People Together
When we talk about solidarity in action, we are talking about mutual protection, about neighbors and community members keeping each other safe. But how do we strengthen mutual protection? One way is to strengthen the “glue” that unites us all. Everyone has a role in shaping peace and co-creating solutions—and NP works to connect communities to each other, safely.
Many times, that means bringing people from shared communities together. In New York City, this looks like protection and connections while processing the rise in hate against Asian American and Pacific Islanders. As NP's U.S. Director of Mutual Protection puts it: "There needs to be dedicated spaces, for us and our communities to be able to recognize the trauma that we've experienced."
This can also mean bringing people together to advocate and co-create change. In South Sudan, NP brought women leaders together—some traveling long hours—for a peace conference. Although they came from different towns, the women built strong relationships with one another. The conference also focused on advocacy with local authorities and traditional leaders and strengthened women’s roles in the local peace process. One of the women shared: "I feel we were listened to, we are now waiting for the implementation of our recommendations and celebrating peace."
In all cases, bringing people together is about finding paths forward without violence, from reconciling a family quarrel before it engulfs a town, to building stronger humanitarian connections across a nation in turmoil.
Nurturing the Leaders of Tomorrow
Young citizens of our communities—children and youth—aren’t just inheriting the world we leave them, but they play a role in shaping the future as well. Through your support in 2022, NP was not just able to protect children and youth, but also able to support them in their growth as leaders for peace.
Growing up in the Philippines, Richelle became aware of many issues in her community: local conflicts amidst strenuous peace processes, widespread injustice, prejudice against Indigenous peoples, and land disputes, to name a few. These issues gave Richelle inspiration to serve her community in the future, but she was not involved in any leadership activities or initiatives until NP came to her neighborhood and she transformed into a youth peacebuilder. “As a peacebuilder, I believe that my voice can be a tool in helping my co-youth and community towards peace and development!” Richelle’s hunger for change is shared by others. Nearby, Ridha and his fellow youth didn’t want to stop working for peace just because their NP workshops ended: they started their own organization and now shape peace in their community.
Throughout our programs, we see transformations in the children and youth themselves, as they work to transform their communities. In the U.S., through the Building Peaceful Schools Initiative, student advisory groups are working with peers and administrators to de-escalate conflicts without violence in Minneapolis Public Schools. In Iraq, NP launched a Children's Peace Club to interrupt bullying, talk about de-escalation skills, and stop schoolyard fights from affecting entire families. In South Sudan, youth from opposing clans worked with NP and convinced their elders to stop the bloodshed. An elder in South Sudan captured why we do this work: “let our youth go to school and not fight for us—let them fight for their futures.”
Rewriting Roles and Becoming Peacebuilders
Just as gender intimately shapes the kinds of violence that people experience, so too does it shape the ways that people and communities experience and participate in civilian protection. Thanks to you, NP made an impact in 2022, from supporting women peacebuilders, to strengthening protection from gender-based violence.
“Through the trainings with NP, I realized that we are able to take on more roles as women,” shared Nisa, a woman peacebuilder in the Philippines. Nisa and her fellow peacebuilders – many of whom have transformed from combatants to trusted community leaders for peace – are now dismantling harmful traditions and educating each other on how to move toward peace. One of Nisa’s peers shared: "In the face of abuse, I did not know how and where to get support before these trainings with NP. Through them, I learned that I can uphold our rights as women and that we can seek and receive the help and support we need."
In Iraq, NP worked to create a safe space for women to advocate on deeply embedded and challenging security issues, like gender-based violence – a topic seen as a taboo that is now being discussed openly. Not only can the women like Zeena now discuss these issues among themselves, some for the first time, but also now as a powerful group of women speaking out in a public forum with policymakers. As this violence continues to come out of the shadows, it loses its power. “I am telling you now,” Zeena shared. “Before NP started doing all this work, I never imagined that I could come to any public institutions and report on issues.”
In Ukraine, NP has been connecting and collaborating with key people on the ground around the country—such as women’s shelters, student groups, and humanitarian partners. Now, NP assists vulnerable populations, such as single-parent households, child-headed households, unaccompanied minors, the elderly, those living with disabilities, and LGBTQI+ people.
So many other facets of our identities, not just our gender, shape the violence we all experience and, in turn, the different ways we show up to protect one another. In 2022, we saw so many leaders for peace, including people with disabilities, the elderly, queer communities, and people who have experienced violence because of their religion, race, or ethnicity. These examples show us how each story is tied up with the other; as the great civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer noted that “nobody's free until everybody's free.” Thank you for supporting peace leaders around the world.
Growing and Deepening our Community
Margaret Mead taught us to "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." And NP's community continued to grow and deepen in 2022, whether it be between neighbors, or on the international stage.
This is because your impact has a multiplying effect on peace. Hadji Gapor, an imam from the Philippines, was able to sharpen his skills in teaching human rights through NP. Now, as he puts it, he "re-echos" these lessons in his community, because he believes that re-echoing is crucial to maintaining the peace and safety of the community. "If they know about their rights, they can uphold them. They can’t defend themselves because they think they have no rights.”
Together, we want to make it possible for more people like Hadji to connect with NP’s community so that more people can “re-echo” the tools to keep each other safe. For the last few years, NP has brought together Unarmed Civilian Protection practitioners from around the globe to share and strengthen the methods and tools – the practices – they use to do this work.
From hosting virtual delegations from our program teams to meeting with policymakers to advancing UCP in US legislation, our global advocacy team is working to make sure these lessons are “re-echoed” to policymakers at the European Union, the United Nations, in Washington, DC, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
This year, NP celebrated 20 years of building this community together! From NP's Executive Director: "You and I are also facing a world where we acknowledge violence harms through new ways – not just at the hands of another individual, but from climate disruption, digital technologies, and power and privilege. UCP can build peace and provide protection in this world, and NP, together with our supporters, is pushing that edge."
You, our entire community of supporters, the local people we work with, and UCP practitioners around the world – we grow peace every day. Together, we can continue to transform the world’s response to the conflict in 2023 and beyond.