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Launch of a new deployment of the Youth Peacemaker Network in Acholi sub-region

CEO Forest Whitaker welcomed a new cohort of 30 new peacemakers during a ceremony in Gulu on May 1, 2017 to kick off the latest deployment of the main youth empowering program in the Acholi sub-region, along with dignitaries and program partners.

The launch of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative’s flagship program, the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN), in the Acholi sub-region in the north of Uganda is designed to empower young women and men from vulnerable areas affected by conflict and violence as peacemakers and community leaders.

The program aims to channel innovative resources into communities, beginning with young women and men whom WPDI helps to express their full potential for engineering peace and development to benefit their communities. YPN provides training in transformative peace-building, mediation and life skills, ICTs and entrepreneurship as well as mobile technology and material support for projects designed and maintained by youth. Other resources include Community Learning Centers (CLCs) where all community members can access computers as well as trainings in ICTs, entrepreneurship, arts and crafts, conflict resolution and literacy. It is through such resources that WPDI will work to sow the seed of long-term success in the communities of Acholi, thanks in particular, to the indefatigable support of the Swedish Postcode Foundation, Ericsson and Education Above All.

The launch ceremony of the YPN-Acholi, held in Gulu, at the Community Learning Center of WPDI, was an opportunity to introduce the public to the new cohort of 30 young peacemakers who began initial training under the aegis of WPDI, with the objective of completing a year-long mediator and entrepreneur certification. The new cohort of 30 youth peacemakers, 15 female and 15 male, was recruited in pairs from each of the 15 counties of the Acholi sub-region. 

More than 100 people attended the ceremony, including authorities from all districts of the Acholi sub-region as well as representatives of WPDI partners including UNESCO, Ericsson, MTN Foundation and the United Nations.

In his address, Mr. Whitaker stated by interconnecting youths and getting them to work together, we can help disseminate values, attitudes and behaviors of peace and non-violence. He urged the new trainees to strive to become “voices for peace and change in their communities.”

The YPN in Acholi is a program that WPDI will implement for the next three years notably in view of supporting the successful development of youth-led educational and social activities, including income-generating businesses and peace work of the ToTs at the community level. The objective is for the YPN to be fully appropriated by the participants and their communities and to outlive the period of the project.

Following the launch ceremony, the 30 youth peacemakers participated in a five-day intensive training in peacebuilding, life skills, conflict resolution, entrepreneurship and ICT. Program Partner Education Above All led a session on the Safe School Declaration and advocacy to defend the right to education during war, conflict and insecurity.

Youth peacemakers also had the opportunity to interact with President of Global Payments of Western Union, Jean-Claude Farah, and exchange with him on leadership.