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Philippines massacre highlights need for Young Ambassadors for Peace Program

The massacre that unfolded recently in the Philippines highlights how important peace building programs are in areas experiencing internal conflict. Ongoing tensions both between and within communities throughout Asia and the Pacific are continuing to create conditions where development efforts are slowed or ineffective.

As a response to the growing need for peacemaking programs, UnitingWorld has launched the People for Peace Appeal to support the vital work of our Young Ambassadors for Peace (YAP) coordinators and volunteers.

The appeal will raise funds for our local YAP coordinators to organise workshops and facilitate peacemaking negotiations in communities throughout Asia and the Pacific.

The situation in Mindanao illustrates the growing importance of YAP programs. Located in the southern Philippines, it is a region divided by misunderstanding and fear between Muslims and Christians. Violence in the past has resulted in the deaths of hundreds, and forced thousands to relocate in fear for their lives.

Ellen Escobal is the local YAP coordinator working in Mindanao.

She saw the opportunity for Christians and Muslims to work together, and has organised educational forums to promote reconciliation, with hundreds in attendance.

“I can honestly say that I saw a miracle, that peace is possible. Our generation has started to plant the seed of peace,” said Escobal.

As Christmas approaches, Ellen will celebrate the coming of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, which will renew her commitment to be engaged in the work of peacemaking.

YAP’s crucial peace workshops and mediations programs have proven to be successful in the past in the transformation of communities, but this success remains dependant on the generosity of supporters.

More information about the People for Peace appeal is available on UnitingWorld’s website at www.unitingworld.org.au/programs/peacemaking

Donations can be made to UnitingWorld online and via post. See  www.unitingworld.org.au for details.