PeaceKwela: When students push for peace in Mindanao
CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines — When students stand for peace, they start in school.
In February, a team of development communication students from Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan launched PeaceKwela, a social marketing campaign that pushes for peace in Mindanao. The campaign involves junior high school students as main participants and collaborators.
"PeaceKwela started as a requirement for our social marketing class in the first semester (June to October) last year," said development communication student Karlo Jess Abecia, the campaign's team leader.
Since its launch, PeaceKwela has visited local schools and installed Peace Info Booths, where volunteers hand out bookmarks, post-it stamps, stickers, and dove-shaped paper strips so that students can write their messages.
"I believe that through my action, I can make peace in Mindanao," a student wrote on a paper strip.
At the same time, PeaceKwela's Facebook page constantly posts positive messages and daily tips as well.
Organizers aim to extend the campaign to the rest of Mindanao, if not the entire Philippines, using social media.
"Mindanao is currently traumatized by what Marawi had undergone last year, as well as the extension of Martial Law," Abecia said. "But PeaceKwela is here to supplement the idea that peace among ourselves is attainable in our own little way."
In summer, organizers of PeaceKwela will conduct "Camp KaliNOW!" for student leaders who will represent their schools. It will provide training for the participants to conduct parallel activities.
From the lack of peace-building initiatives comes an emerging platform that will provide opportunities for students to offer what Mindanao needs. Despite its tribulations last year, Mindanao is on its way to recovery. The campaign paves the path where students, as young as they are, can take the lead. — Rappler.com
Angelo Lorenzo is one of Rappler’s lead movers in Cagayan de Oro City. A graduate of development journalism from Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan, he currently works in the city's local government unit, and writes on the sidelines.