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Q1 Wrap Up!

During the first quarter Youth Council Members were asked to support Forum for Cities in Transition projects. A key skill required when working in conflict affected areas to support peace, is understanding how to plan and deliver measurable activities.

Youth council were able to learn about the project life cycle and get first-hand experience in support the planning of a project. 

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Mia Sawjani

For this task I produced a report on the conflict in Cameroon, that examined two major areas of violence. The first of these is the separatist struggle in the Anglophone North-West and South- West regions of Cameroon (‘Ambazonia’). The second of these is the terrorist threat faced from Boko Haram in the North of Cameroon. Within the work I sought to dissect the interaction between the Anglophone crisis and Boko Haram threat to create a holistic understanding of the conflict within Cameroon. Within Part One of my report, I considered the conflict’s causes, core problems, effects, historic strategies of response as well as proposing insights about future intervention.

 

In Part Two of my report, I examined the major stakeholders in the Cameroonian conflict, looking to their issues, methods, needs, channels of influence and ultimately their willingness to negotiate. From completing this work, I have gained an appreciation of how to account for the multitude of (often competing) interests, agendas, identities – and thus nuanced perceptions of violence - of the actors partaking in violence, and practically balance this with the necessity of ensuring the conflict is externally ‘legible.’

 

Thus, building upon this, I have gained a greater understanding of the role scholarship and literature plays in discursively constructing the perception of conflicts – generating tangible effects in policy outcomes and wider international response.

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Sian Aitken

My first experience completing research and project work for the ICO Youth Council has been very fulfilling. Whilst the prospects of having to carry out an individual proposal plan for reputable NGO organisations was initially very daunting, completing the process has increased my confidence for completing work outside of the academic bubble of my university. This has been a key aspect of this

work, being provided the opportunity to carry out work which was not limited by an academic reading list has been a refreshing experience which has offered insight into the liberties that careers and work opportunities after university may accord.

 

I have thoroughly enjoyed being trusted with individual liberties to carry out this project and am looking forward to what the ICO youth council has to offer me next.

My project proposal was carried out for the IMC, a NGO which focuses on inter faith communication and projects to help encourage grassroots mechanisms of peace building around the world. I was asked to develop a story building project in Kaduna, Nigeria, for women of different religious backgrounds in the region. This project would encourage women to come together in a safe, neutral environment, to share stories with one another about their experiences of violence in Nigeria. I have

learnt about the huge impacts that story telling can has as a mechanism of peacebuilding on the psychology of those impacted by violence and on improving interfaith relationships through an acknowledgement of similarity.

Through this process I have learnt about the reasoning for deep-rooted violence and conflict in Nigeria, opening my eyes to an area of the world which I really did not know much about. I have contemplated the livelihoods of those in such conflict torn countries. Understanding the upheaval faced on daily occurrences, whether through political conflict or the kidnapping of young women from schools, a common issue in Kaduna, was a genuine impetus for my proposal. Whilst recognising that my role was very preliminary in the work of the IMC it has been rewarding to think that my ideas may help shape a project which will help real people in the future.

This first project has offered insight into the world of NGO work around me and the role that peace building has in shaping the lives of those in conflict torn regions of the world. It has allowed me to reflect, with gratitude, on the life that I have here, whilst also increasing my awareness of the inequalities across the world. NGO work of organisations such as the ICO and the IMC are key to the promotion of peace across the world and often this work occurs covertly. I had never heard of these

organisations before I began my project but now I am keen to learn and work more to help organisations which work for a better future. I am excited to begin more work and hope to continue to be a useful asset of any project proposal.

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Within the framework of ICO and the FCT (The Forum for Cities in Transition)

network, I have had the opportunity to produce a project brief for SHiFT, a social innovation hub in Tripoli, Lebanon, located in the neighbourhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen.

What remains most notable is being introduced to and getting engaged with SHiFT and their activities in specifically assisting women and youth regarding mental health, skills training, and individual business development. Working for SHiFT opened my horizons to grassroot ways of conflict resolution directed towards the individuals themselves, which are subsequently beneficial in producing small-scale meaningful social change in conflict-ridden communities. Nevertheless, there were some initial setbacks in the allocation of a specific project for me and in the communication with the stakeholders. As expected, I got quite worried at first for the extent I would be able to deliver an appropriate and efficient end result, since the time had also been limited until there was a final verdict on the project.

 

However, such drawbacks were effectively managed and the rest of the process flew by smoothly without affecting my expectations for the final piece of work. Importantly, the guidance and assistance provided throughout the Q1 activity has been very helpful and I greatly appreciate the support, since we were all being checked at regularly in case we were having a difficult time. To be provided regular support and advice was very meaningful and definitely facilitated and made the process more enjoyable. Overall, through this activity I became more comfortable producing a project brief as well as developed my skills inbackground and crossover research for organisations.

Dimitra Pateraki

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