Every dollar matched up to $50,000 until December 31! Give today.
Our SpeakUp® Mechanism
Nonviolent Peaceforce logo with blue dotDonate

Youth Voice: Peace transformation inside Maguindanao

Date: February 7, 2022

By Denise Rafaeli Cadorniga

The Bangsamoro peace transition is motivating young people to get involved in advocacy for positive change.

Woman from Mindanao speaking into microphone with mask

Throughout Richelle’s adolescent years in Barangay Saniag, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, she gradually 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.

“During my adolescence, I witnessed my cousin running for a political position, and I hoped that one day I would be able to do the same so that I could help people and my community,” she reflects.

But Richelle, now 25, was not involved in any leadership activities or initiatives until the STREAM Project came to her neighborhood and she transformed into a youth peacebuilder.

The STREAM project--or Strengthening Youth Engagement and Action Toward Peace in Mindanao--is a project run by NP and two local organizations, UnYPhil-Women (United Youth of the Philippines Inc.) and KMMKM (The Kamalitanan Te Matigasalog, Manobo, Kalumanen Tribes Ne Megsabeka). Through the STREAM Project, NP and our partners are growing youth participation in conflict-sensitive peacebuilding and nonviolent conflict transformation during the pandemic. With your support, we are helping Moro, Christian, and Indigenous youth, like Richelle, strengthen these skills to make a positive impact on their communities.

“As a peacebuilder, I believe that my voice can be a tool in helping my co-youth and community towards peace and development, especially if the local government units and other concerned agencies, organizations, and stakeholders are part of the initiatives,” shares Richelle. “I’m also active in different projects as a peacebuilder. I’m now confident in my capacity to lead and act in my community. "

The STREAM project is so critical for the region right now, as child recruitment and radicalization are so intricately related to the peace and security challenges that continue to plague Mindanao. Additionally, indigenous children and young people are believed to be especially vulnerable to poverty and social isolation, residing in some of Mindanao's poorest regions, which are marked by low health, nutrition, and educational results for children. Apart from socioeconomic isolation, they continue to face social discrimination, economic growth challenges, and political marginalization. As you and I know, elevating youth voices will assist in engaging them in efforts to promote local peace and security.

Richelle 2

Increasing youth engagement in local peace and security initiatives

In STREAM, youth from ages 15 to 30, many who are out of school or from poor families, strengthened their skills on leadership, peacebuilding, and the development of a peace-promoting youth agenda. They also established youth-oriented Early Warning and Early Response initiatives, including COVID-19 health education and mental health support.

“I am so grateful for every single exposure that the project provided for me,” Richelle shared. “One of the trainings that I wanted to highlight was about Early Warning and Early Response. The training was very helpful in submitting to reality or circumstances occurring in our place. Through this, I was able to understand the concept of safety and security and be able to respond in an appropriate manner.”

Richelle also highlighted some challenges that had helped develop her skills for conflict resolution – such as inter-ethic and intra-faith dialogues: “As a young peacebuilder, I am confronted with numerous challenges, particularly bringing my co-youth into the same perspectives and committing to the same mission. ... Most of the members of our organization are still in school. However, I observed that they are very active in the organization. The inter- and intra-faith dialogues have helped me understand the deeper meanings behind the various cultures and histories of my co- youth. This made me realize that amidst diversity, we can all stand united in peace and security. "

This did not hinder to pursue her ambitions though. Richelle has been impressed by the degree of respect displayed by the various young members towards one another.

Woman in mask speaking to group of people


Transforming conflict and sustaining peace

Richelle has seen that STREAM has already made an impact on young people like herself. She was moved by the several efforts to increase the sustainability of STREAM project in her home. For example, the initiatives now include and highlight out-of-school youth, 
offer more leadership trainings, and facilite access to livelihood assistance for women. The initiative also organizes both youth and parents to attend various sessions regarding Child Early and Forced Marriage.

As shared by Richelle, “One of our initiatives was organizing a community where we conducted an information session on people’s rights to suffrage for them to understand their political and civil rights. We also raised awareness on resiliency and helped the community cope and mobilize available resources within their community. Lastly, I always motivate my colleagues to actively participate in every community development engagement.”

Thank you for supporting youth initiatives in Maguindanao, Philippines. As we deepen our programming, more youth like Richelle are becoming involved in advocacy for positive change.

*  *  *

The Strengthening Youth Engagement and Action Toward Peace in Mindanao (STREAM) is a project in the Municipalities of Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, Ampatuan, and Kitatao, Maguindanao. STREAM is led by Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) in partnership with two local organizations: the United Youth of the Philippines Inc. (UnYPhil-Women) and The Kamalitanan Te Matigasalog, Manobo, Kalumanen Tribes Ne Megsabeka (KMMKM). In addition to generous support from donors like you, STREAM is directly supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) under its Youth for Culture of Peace and Nonviolence in Mindanao (YOUCAP) programme, which is aimed at giving youth in rural and conflict-affected areas in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and Northern Mindanao the opportunity to be involved in local peace and security efforts.

You can protect civilians who are living in or fleeing violent conflict. Your contribution will transform the world's response to conflict.