Twenty-five young leaders from SOCCSKSARGEN and BARMM completed the five-day OURmindaNOW Tech Camp 4, Equal Access International’s youth empowerment program, from January 31 to February 4, 2022 in General Santos City.
For five days, participants got to immerse and understand better the concepts of peace and conflict, and violent extremism through interactive activities and group presentations. They were also equipped with the needed skills in amplifying narratives through advocacy campaigns and the use of digital tools- from branding and messaging development sessions, masterclasses, and finally pitching their digital campaign proposals on the last day.
“I am always a proponent of peace, especially when it comes to fighting discrimination. I should be a role model for my peers and encourage them to advocate for peace. This Tech Camp have undoubtedly assisted me in expanding my advocacy efforts,” said Alnor Pantalan, a co-founder of the Project TAdEM (Training Advocates and Empowering Maranaos), and one of the Tech Camp participants from Lanao del Sur.
Over 200 aspiring individuals from Lanao del Sur, Marawi City, Maguindanao, Cotabato City, Sultan Kudarat, General Santos City, Sarangani, and Cotabato City applied in the Tech Camp. Only the top 25 were chosen through rigorous screening and deliberation conducted by the SOX, Ranaw and Kutawato messaging hub members.
Applicants considered possess socio-civic and youth leadership records, basic knowledge on media and communication tools, a strong sense of commitment for positive change, and a good understanding of peace and local issues in their community.
The fourth OURmindaNOW Tech Camp is part of EAI-Philippines’ Communities and Schools Leading in the Fight Against Terrorism (CS-LIFT) project which aims to build networks to reduce the appeal of terrorist recruitment in Mindanao. Through this, emerging leaders are gathered to understand peace and conflict, build innovative solutions for the problems of their community, and use digital tools to heighten the use of positive messages. EAI-PH dedicates its programs in building an enabling environment for youth, women, partners, and community members to develop and build narratives for peace.
In the next months, this new addition of Tech Camp alumni will lead their own learning exchange sessions in CS-LIFT strategic areas as a pay-it-forward approach to young individuals in the communities who have limited access to youth empowerment programs. This will be under the banner of the Kabataang Payapa Network (KPN). They have also launched their digital campaigns as a reinforcing mechanism in amplifying alternative and positive narratives in preventing violent extremism and peace promotion. / Jaymilyn Geronimo, EAI-PH intern