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A Tale of Two Generations of Youth Peacemakers Committed to Foster Peace and Sustainable Development in Tijuana, Mexico

Last week in Tijuana, Mexico, WPDI launched the latest branch of its flagship program, the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN), starting with the initial training of 30 young people (16 women and 14 men) stemming from vulnerable backgrounds. After completing a year of training, they will become peacemakers and entrepreneurs and will work to improve life in their communities through educational, cultural and income-generating projects.

These young people were selected to become active catalysts of change based on the YPN's youth leadership and partnership model, through which WPDI fosters peace and development in fragile communities with the support of such partners including the Telmex-Telcel and Western Union Foundations as well as Ericsson.

In a first phase, WDPI will train these youths in a diverse array of fields critical to their missions. Those include conflict resolution, entrepreneurship, internet and communications technology (ICT), life skills, and education. To ensure strong learning outcomes, we have hired experts to guide the trainees over the year through their weekly intensive trainings. Once equipped, the youths will return to their communities and work with other local young people, so as to develop income-generating projects and peace initiatives responding to the needs and aspirations of local populations.

As members of the YPN, these 30 youths are now part of a network that now extends across Mexico, South Sudan, Uganda and, soon, South Africa. They represent enormous promise for their respective communities and Tijuana more largely. As they undertake their projects, they will also have the first generation of WPDI peacemakers from Tijuana to look up to.

The 34 youths that form the first Tijuana generation of WPDI peacemakers started their own training in May 2015 and have since developed into a peace force that has made an immense impact. Over a three-year period, they trained, mentored and empowered hundreds of their peers in schools, youth centers, and prisons. At local schools and organizations, to provide but one example, they presented on important topics including bullying prevention, human rights, environmental awareness, and conflict resolution. By doing so, they organized other youths and community members to become more involved in their communities as well.

A dynamic group, this first generation of youth peacemakers have also formed strong bonds with other organizations and even businesses, such as local Boys & Girls Clubs and “FLEX” – one of the largest manufacturing firms in Mexico.

Their work has transformed many lives, including theirs. Some of the youths in the program have been able to enroll in universities, thanks in part to WPDI’s connections to institutions of higher education, but also because of their talents and energy.  Some have become engineers, lawyers, psychologists, and sociologists. Without a doubt, all are still highly motivated and skilled members of their communities and will continue supporting our efforts in training a new generation of Trainers of Trainers (ToTs). Some will even become mentors of our new cohort of youths, thus creating a bridge of knowledge, skills, and leadership.

WPDI’s peacemakers in Tijuana truly embody everything our organization values and strives for. They make us incredibly proud, but more importantly, are making Tijuana a more peaceful and sustainably developed place for all its inhabitants.