Twelve Minda youth complete EAI’s OURmindaNOW Tech Camp

Among the new addition of Equal Access International Philippines’ (EAI) Tech Camp alumni are the 12 individuals from select regions in Mindanao who completed the five-day session on peacebuilding and youth empowerment from December 14-18, 2020 in Cagayan de Oro City. 

Adjusting to the new normal, EAI Philippines implemented a blended learning approach through online and face-to-face discussion with invited resource speakers from and outside Mindanao.  

The intensive training-workshop covered various sessions and topics that helped equipped participants in creating their social media campaigns. Participants were divided according to their geographical locations: ZamBaSul (Zamboanga, Basilan and Sulu), MagSOX (Maguindanao and SOCCSKSARGEN), and Lanao-Cotabato) and actively participated in group workshops and presentations. Important sessions included History of Conflict in Mindanao, Defining Peace and Conflict, Empowerment, Critical Thinking, and a panel also joined the Tech Campers online to discuss Religion, Women and Violent Extremism. 

Participants also underwent the healing and reconciliation session, one of Tech Camp’s unique approaches that completes each participant’s journey towards acceptance, understanding and self-empowerment. Another relevant session added to this year’s Tech Camp is Cybersecurity alongside Media and Media Literacy. These topics focused on the responsible use of social media, how to create media contents that matter, and how to protect one’s identity from emerging online threats.  

Instead of the Cultural Night that the previous batches of Tech Camp experienced, a Cultural Trivia Night on the third day was hosted with the ZamBaSul Team winning the game.  

On the fourth day, participants got the chance to know more and enhance some digital skills with invited experts demonstrating how to effectively use it in creating media campaigns. Each participant completed two skills which included: Mobile Photography, Mobile Videography and Vlogging, Radio Program Production, Basic Design, Digital Storytelling and Public Speaking.  

From the theoretical and skills-based knowledge learned, each group came up with their media campaigns and pitched their ideas and prototype materials on the last day. The ZamBaSul Team came up with Project Tumagna that aims to involve youth in their areas in civic engagement focusing on peacebulding and youth leadership. On the other hand, the Lanao-Cotabato Team presented the PEACEBook campaign that focuses on promoting narratives of peace through its four approaches: PEACEStory, PEACETalk, PEACETeach and PEACEAction. Lastly, the MagSOX Team came up with the KalinawONE Campaign that aims to foster unity by promoting local delicacies and cuisines. After their presentation, a panel provided some insights and ideas on how to improve it and what ways it can effectively be implemented in the community.  

Rasul Mantawil from Maguindanao expressed his appreciation for his whole Tech Camp experience. 

“I thought that when I attend the Tech Camp, it will all just be fun and enjoyment, but I found out that it is more than that. We are empowered and taught with skills that could help our advocacies when we go back to our communities. We are taught what to do and what we can do. I don’t want to waste this kind of opportunity that EAI has provided, and I am excited to share my learnings to my partners in my organization,” Rasul shared. 

Moving Forward 

Aside from the technical skillset gained from the Tech Camp, participants also learned important tips on how to create partnerships and widen their networks, how to mobilize resources, and how to effectively manage project finances. Such areas are also important as they soon implement their advocacies in the community. The 12 young leaders and new completers of the OURmindaNOW Tech Camp are expected to lead the Kabataan Payapa Network (KPN) that EAI will soon launch in 2021.  

At present, 162 Tech Campers are part of EAI’s Alumni Community who continue to promote their advocacies and expand their networks in Mindanao. EAI also continues to engage with the alumni through various online sessions, the Messaging Hub network, and volunteer opportunities, among others.  

In a closing reflection session, Sau Danih from Zamboanga City shared how grateful she is to be part of the recent Tech Camp. She expressed, “I am grateful to EAI for giving us this platform, for encouraging us to find our empowered selves. I believe that investing for the youth means investing a loving, caring, and peaceful community. I am thankful for the opportunity to meet these young minds, to meet new friends in this Tech Camp.”

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