New Zealand backs program for Mindanao young leaders
DAVAO CITY – Two Maranao youths, one of them involved in emergency response during the five-month siege in Marawi City in 2017, are among eight young leaders chosen for a four-month study grant that would offer them a glimpse of a society not torn by conflict, New Zealand Ambassador David Strachan said.
Abubakar De Juan Basman, 23, part of the White Helmet rescue group, who went to the battle zone and reportedly saved some 1,700 lives during the siege, is among the eight young Mindanao leaders who would leave for Wellington, New Zealand on Friday for a four-month leadership training there.
“It’s all about broadening their horizons, giving them a glimpse of the society that wasn’t conflict-ridden and that would help shape the future of their societies back home,” Strachan said.
The Mindanao Young Leaders Program (MinYLP) was launched here Tuesday.
“When they come back to Mindanao, the New Zealand government would be getting behind them and support projects in each of their villages,” he added.
Also from Marawi City, Rohanie Ibra Amer, project officer of the Al Mujadilah Foundation, said she wanted to compare the situation of gender-based violence in New Zealand with that of Mindanao and to understand how this issue had been addressed.
She said she was also particularly interested in learning about mental health and psycho-social support services in place for women who experienced gender-based violence in New Zealand.
“I am deeply honored to be part of this pioneer batch of MinYLP scholars,” said Basman, who works as program officer of Lanao del Sur’s early disaster response network.
“I appreciate that the program will help me learn the best mechanism and practices not only in managing disasters but also in managing risks,” he said.
Along with Basman and Amer, the other young leaders included are Alexis Yonson, 26, from Cagayan de Oro; journalist Malaya Genotiva, and rugby coach to the less-privileged children Hilton Soberano, both from Davao City; ecologist and conservationist Ben Raye Marco from Pigcawayan, North Cotabato; school teacher and Philippine Red Cross youth advisor Sanny Priann Justo from Esperanza, Agusan del Sur; and Sharifa Ain Abdlmajid Lipae, a community worker engaged with women cross-border traders in Bongao, Tawi Tawi.
Strachan said the leadership program would expose the scholars to new ideas and institutions, inspire them to think critically about what they could apply in their communities and develop various skills to contribute to peace in their communities.
“New Zealand is committed to doing what it can to support peace and stability in Mindanao. We recognize the pivotal role youth will place as agents of change,” he said.
Mindanao young leaders
“It is our pleasure to host these talented young leaders. We hope that their New Zealand experience will help them develop their communities and contribute to peacebuilding,” he added.
International Alert Philippines Country Manager Nikki dela Rosa said the program was timely since it would harness young people’s energy and dynamism when the Bangsamoro is in transition and the peace process with communist rebels still suffers an impasse.
“While a new Bangsamoro is a key to securing lasting peace in Mindanao, the transition is fraught with risks that may create new cycles of violence borne from exclusion and betrayed expectations,” dela Rosa said.
The Mindanao young leaders will follow a group program in Wellington organized by UnionAID, a charity that educates and empowers working people in developing countries. /lzb
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