September 2013

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Last week, we introduced Breakthrough’s Young Peacebuilders Initiative (YPI) and its director, Dr. Michael McGill. To read that post, click here. This week, we will continue to explore the work of YPI by looking at their growing initiative.

Burundi YPI Leaders

Burundi YPI Leaders

Most people try to address problems in the developing world by identifying a perceived solution and then implementing their structured curriculum in an attempt to fix it.

However, that is not how the Young Peacebuilders Initiative (YPI) works. McGill starts with vision. He encourages local leaders to imagine their future nation if their children were nurtured with peacebuilding passion and skill rather than raised with violence modeled as a default response to conflict. Dr. McGill then challenges them to join with others in making that more peaceful future a reality and reminds them that the vast majority of contemporary conflicts occur in nations with very young populations like theirs.

If local leaders are committed to pursuing the vision of building more durable peace through nurturing young peacebuilders, he helps them to identify the unique obstacles to achieving their vision and to create and implement their own contextualized YPI plan. Although it can be more time consuming, YPI and Breakthrough Partners strongly believe that this model of local ownership brings about more sustainable and effective change. This longer yet promising process brings about more durable peace in communities worldwide where cycles of violence often continue for generations.

McGill is currently implementing this strategy in Burundi and Rwanda and exploring expansion into Cote d’Ivoire and Uganda. He has also been contacted by groups in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Ecuador who are interested in replicating YPI’s model of equipping children as peacebuilders who will become their community’s greatest asset for a more peaceful future. Leaders from around the world are coming September 28th to a YPI training in Uganda to how to start a YPI process in a new country. Learn more here.

Take YPI in Burundi, for example. Through visits with multiple churches, government, business and NGO leaders, Michael identified a group of leaders who grabbed hold of the vision for engaging large numbers of young peacebuilders. These leaders committed to working together to identify and implement a plan to equip their children and youth as peacebuilders. Since working to gather the resources for an initial national YPI consultation in June 2013, they have proudly claimed ownership for the YPI process. Now, through 50 trainers, 2,000 teachers in Burundi will be taught how to implement a local, contextualized plan to train children as peacemakers. From a small group of leaders who grabbed hold of YPI’s vision for a peaceful future, 100,000 young people will be engaged and trained to make choices that build peaceful communities. And YPIB is just getting started!

As God continues to work in the hearts of African leaders to prompt them to say, “Now is the time!” YPI will continue to help these leaders identify and move towards the vision of that is important to them.

Learn more about YPI here, or listen to Michael discuss his vision here. Or, follow them on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates!