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WPDI Youth Achieve Tremendous Success in Local Communities of Mexico's Chiapas State

Over the summer, WPDI youth from our Chiapas-based program worked hard to make a difference in their respective communities promoting sustainable development, peace and literacy at the local level in a region marked by conflict, ethnic divides and vulnerability.

These young women and men operate under the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN), a program designed to help communities impacted by conflict and fragility become more resilient, peaceful and sustainable by tapping the energy and dedication of their young people. Working with a youth leadership and partnership model, we begin by enrolling a group of talented and motivated young women and men that we train in conflict resolution, entrepreneurship, life skills and in other relevant fields so they can go back into their communities and promote peace, learning and sustainable development. We let them take the initiative and undertake projects that they know will make sense for their communities. Our philosophy is to trust them with the future of their communities.

With this in mind, for a number of years now, our youth from Chiapas have engaged deeply with their respective communities and mobilized fellow young people and adults alike – a truly impressive feat.

In a period of just a few months, the Healthy Food Production project has expanded to six communities and taught families how to develop biofertilizers and bioinsecticides for use in their personal vegetable gardens. They additionally showed families that breed chickens how to create healthier environments for their poultry and developed a relationship with a collective in San Cristobal de Las Casas. In partnership, the project has put on workshops for local children on topical issues for the community including seed selection and germination, solid waste management and what constitutes healthy, nutritious food.

The Literacy Project is generating a significant impact within the Zinacantan community. Its mission is to introduce indigenous Tzotzil-speaking children to a reading-to-learn program through workshops and has been successful in its aims thus far. In this month alone, the team will be conducting summer workshops for some 50 children on topics including gardening, natural soap making, recycling, math, basic Tzotzil reading and writing as well as basic English vocabulary.

In the Selva Lacandona – the jungle region of Chiapas – the Youth Participation Project has brought together 24 young people from three different communities. After being trained in topics including peacebuilding, conflict resolution, entrepreneurship and meditation as well as community projects planning, the youth have begun to plan their own projects. So far, they all relate to environmental conservation and plan to educate local farmers on issues such as low-impact farming to promote environmental stewardship.

Together, these community projects have impacted more than 160 families and over 100 young people. As one peacemaker noted, “we feel very proud of our work with WPDI. We have been able to support our communities and help them improve their production.” We wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors!