It is not a daily occurrence for one’s work to be noticed and appreciated by others. It is an even more rare occurrence to receive such recognition from a global platform with a diverse range of contributors competing for the same recognition.
This rare recognition however did occur to the USAID SAFE Program’s grantee, African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET), and Victor Ochen, its Executive Director. Both AYINENT and Ochen have been nominated for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize 2015. On its website, AYINET observed thus in its acceptance statement:
“The nomination is a sign of deep respect for victims and survivors of unspeakable atrocities who instead of being crushed by war struggled and regained their dignity that allows them to live in dignity with their fellow human beings. Further it is a recognition for those victims who have devoted their lives to heal others”
The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization dedicated to serving the community through development, peace and justice throughout the world, nominated AYINET and Ochen. In response AYINET stated that although the nomination recognizes its past work “it also affirms our vision that no matter how violent our history has been the current generation can invigorate and achieve the idea of a peaceful Africa.”
Indeed the nomination of AYINET and Victor Ochen is testament to the fact that after more than two decades of violent conflict, death, displacement and destitution, northern Ugandan is steadily rising from the ruins of war to a new dawn of peace, reconciliation and development.
Although AYINET works with other partners, its work with SAFE Program support was particularly acknowledged in the nomination letter for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Through a USAID supported campaign dubbed “Youth Involvement in Peace Building”, AYINET encourages conflict-affected communities to discuss and embrace a variety of peace initiatives. Aired on the region’s most popular radio stations it is estimated that over two million young people have received AYINET’s peace messages.
Through AYINET’s trainings and information provided on radio talk shows, youth have attained skills in conflict management, peace building, and promotion of livelihood options.
The youth have resorted to better conflict solving approaches, especially during peace negotiations and dialogues. Others are acting as mediators in discussions that have the potential to escalate to violence, such as land wrangles and gender based violence. The SAFE Program and AYINET will continue conducting additional radio programs and other activities aimed at promoting peace and reconciliation in northern Uganda.