By Loren De Guzman
In commemoration of the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Philippines aligned its fourth installment of the “Shaping our Future Together” webinar series on September 21, 2020, via Zoom and Facebook Live.
This webinar series, co-organized with the Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation, aims to encourage young people and organizations to put our heads together to define how enhanced international cooperation can help realize a better world.
GPF International President James Flynn welcomed a diverse group of panelists saying, “The unprecedented circumstances this year are a powerful reminder that we are all connected; that we impact each other as we live in our common home in this planet that we live together; and that we must work together to solve the problems that impact us all.” President Flynn shared ways we can contribute to shaping peace together, emphasizing the need to be able to surpass the things that divide us since we are all from the same heritage and our humanness can identify the value and worth of each person regardless of race and culture. We need to keep in mind that we are from the same origin and we should all treat each other as family.
He mentioned two important points in order to contribute to shaping our peace together: First, cultivating a mindset for peace which entails respecting the sanctity and dignity of every human life where we should be able to move beyond our prejudices and biases; and second, making peacebuilding an everyday focus. Everyone can be a peacebuilder who restores relationships, builds trust, and solves underlying issues to achieve positive peace with justice. We can do at least one activity per day to contribute to peacebuilding one step at a time.
Lauren Pelascini, the Director for Quality Assurance of Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation, gave the opening message. For 30 years, their foundation has dedicated itself to helping abused, exploited, and neglected children, women, and their families. “The only way to shape peace is to do it together,” she said. The participants of this webinar joined the event to be able to learn and contribute to peace in our homes, schools, communities, and conversations. She encouraged the participants to have a “contagious courage” that promotes love and peace.
“We are all part of the whole peace puzzle, where every piece of us—every piece of peace that we share—is needed to create a peaceful image of the puzzle.” Ms. Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman highlighted peace education as a sustainable way to shape peace together in our society. By teaching peace, we can create peacebuilders in every generation. Her talk focused on promoting peace in schools where children can feel safe physically, emotionally, socially, and psychologically. She placed specific emphasis on the need to have a place in which children and youth are loved, respected, and empowered. Peace can start and be cultivated in a safe and peaceful learning environment. Peace education is a process to create a culture of peace, resilience, and heroism to promote inner peace, peace towards others, and peace to the environment.
Ms. Sumndad-Usman shared three steps to build your peace education journey: (1) Take on the peace education challenge by creating or joining a peace education movement; (2) assess and reflect the issues faced by your school or the school you want to implement your peace education initiatives and design your peace education activities that promote peace as a lifestyle; (3) create a ripple effect by training and educating others about the importance of peace education.
Atty. Klarise Cajucom discussed ways to build safe communities for children at risk. We can help the children at risk, focusing on those street children, by giving them the opportunity to change their stories, from being abused, neglected, and stuck in an armed conflict, to a better future where they feel loved and safe. She shared about the activities and partners of Consuelo Foundation to support the children in changing their future.
Some examples of this were included on the webinar: (1) Bahay Tuluyan is a children’s rights organization working to prevent and respond to abuse and violence against children; (2) Virlanie Foundation assists children in street situations to access education; (3) Kuya Center, a residential shelter which caters to young boys who are lost, abandoned orphaned, or have run away due to abuse issues in their families; (4) Partner: Ang Bahay Parola is a Christ-centered home providing its children holistic programs and services; (5) Specs caters to abused, neglected, abandoned, and at-risk boys aged 6-17 years old; (6) Mercy House attends to the physical, spiritual, mental and emotional needs of boys and young men who have come from traumatic backgrounds; (7) Visions of Hope has a residential care for neglected, abandoned, orphaned, former street-dwellers, tribal children, and children at-risk. She ended her talk with a quotation from the bible, “Let no one disregard you because you are young but be an example to all the believers in the way you speak and behave, and in your love, your faith and your purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12.
Ms. Sarah Fabito, one of the winners of the Global Youth Summit outstanding alumni safe space heroes, introduced Youth for Women in Technology Inc. (WiTech), a youth-led, non-profit organization that aims to educate, inspire, and empower the youth to break gender barriers and use technology to make a difference in society. One of the problems we have right now is the underrepresentation of women in the fields of Science and Technology so their organization created programs to expose young girls to S&T. One of which is the women in tech teach (wi-teach) which teaches, inspires, and engages them to pursue STEM strand. They also expose young women to women professionals in their fields to inspire them. “Together, let’s create opportunities for the youth to discover themselves in tech and to create a safe, supportive, and inclusive space for the community.”
“The youth are the leaders of today and the builders of tomorrow,” said Mr. Jinsoo Kim, Regional President of GPF Asia Pacific. In his closing message, Mr. Kim spoke to the youth participants who attended the webinar series and the Global Youth Summit, saying they prove that young people are ready to create peace in moral and innovative ways. We need to be able to see the youth as essential leaders and partners who can contribute to solving the problems and challenges said, Mr. Kim. We need to support our young people and encourage them to be peacebuilders that we never could have imagined. We need to work together as one team for our dream of peace to be realized. He ended his message by sharing this thought: “Shaping the future is only possible when we achieve peace when we achieve moral and innovative leadership, and when we internalize deep into our hearts that we are all one family under God.”
The panelists for this webinar included GPF International President, James Flynn; Director for Quality Assurance of Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation, Lauren Pelascini; Founding President, and Executive Director of Teach Peace Build Peace Movement, Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman; Director for Programs of Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation, Atty. Klarise Cajucom; Executive Director of WiTech Batangas, Sarah Jane Fabito; Regional President of GPF Asia Pacific, Jinsoo Kim; and Tristan Nodalo from CNN, as our moderator.