Group advocates for peace in Benue
Strategy and Innovation for Development Initiative (SI4DEV), a non-governmental organisation registered in Nigeria, supported by the Spring Development Initiative with Students Rebuild, Seattle USA, to teach children about empathy and peace in a time of conflict, and provide tools for pupils to work through their trauma in a healthy way at its ‘Facing Difference Challenge’ event in Benue State.
Benue has in recent months been the locus of incessant attacks of rural villages by cattle herdsmen, leading to hundreds of deaths in communities and the destruction of farmland and other properties. Many men, women and children have been forced away from their homes and have had to settle in ill-equipped Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camps, suffering loss and grief while nursing distrust, hate and revenge against their perceived enemies.
The Facing Difference Challenge is an opportunity for young people to be empowered with knowledge that will help them advocate for peace even with people different from them. They also get to express their creativity and talent through an art project that involves drawing a portrait of their own face.
The Facing Difference activity, which took place last week, was coordinated by SI4DEV partners, who engaged students from Trinity Model Academy in Makurdi, Benue. Through the event, SI4DEV provided a platform and a time for the children who participated to reflect and understand the concepts of empathy, forgiveness and peace.
Emmanuella Ikomon, lead partner in Makurdi, and coordinator of the challenge, revealed that the students also learned about identity and about global peers who were taking part in the challenge. At the end of the project, a total of 26 self-portraits were produced that reflect the artist’s sense of who they are as peace advocates.