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TAKING THE NEXT STEPS TOWARDS PEACE

BY DWIGHT JASON RONAN One of the great things about the Fredskorpset exchange fellowship program is the opportunity to “give back” to our home countries. For the past few months, I was able to share my experiences, the challenges, and the lessons learned from the ten-month post in Myanmar to various people back here in the Philippines. And it was an absolute privilege to be able to share the knowledge and skills gained from a fruitful assignment.

COMMUNICATING PEACE. FK fellows Myra Sioco and Dwight Jason Ronan sharing their experiences on different radio stations in the Philippines.

Together with my co-fellow Myra Sioco, I was given the chance to be interviewed in three different radio programs. The first interview was for “Leader Ka K!”, a program focusing on youth-related issues, on DZLB 1116 AM station on March 11. I was also interviewed for “May Punto Ka Diyan!” on DZUP 1602 AM station on March 24 where we also discussed the present peace initiatives in the Philippines. And lastly on April 3, I was also interviewed for ”Radyo Kalikasan” for DWBL 1242 AM station. Being a community broadcasting major and a former radio program host, it was quite nostalgic to be “on air” once again.

of the ongoing peace talks in Mindanao. Secretary Quintos-Deles and Professor Leonen were also some of the guests during the seminar together with other key negotiators from the MILF.

The highlight of our follow-up activities in the Philippines is the information-sharing forum we organized last March 18, entitled “Communicating Peace: The Myanmar and Bhutan PeaceComm Experience”. It was held at the College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines Los Baños, a globally-recognized academic institution in the field of communications. We chose this college as our main audience because we Myra and I also attended various peace forums back here in the thought that our experiences with PeaceComm would be very Philippines. The first one was the “Forum on Peace and Security: helpful for its students and faculty members. Around 80 students, Pursuing EDSA’s Path of Peace” held last March 3 at the Ateneo de faculty members, and other local advocacy groups attended the Manila University. Various peace organizations and other advocacy said event. groups participated in the said event. Among the guests in this forum were Secretary Ging Quintos-Deles, the presidential adviser The whole PeaceComm fellowship program has truly been a on the peace process; Marvic Leonen, the Philippine government’s wonderful and great experience with the support of Fredskorpset and this experience wouldn’t be as great with the generous lead negotiator for the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF); and Alexander Padilla, the Philippine support from Fredskorpset and PeaceComm partners, especially government’s lead negotiator for the peace talks with the National the Environmental Broadcast Circle (EBC) and Shalom (Nyein) Foundation. Democratic Front (NDF). It was a very insightful forum where I learned more on the present peace initiatives in the Philippines. There is still so much to be done in the field of peace both in the The second forum that we attended was the “Peace Conference on Philippines and Myanmar (and even in other parts of the world) and all we can do is to continue moving forward and making peace the Bangsomoro Question” last March 23 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. The forum highlighted the current situation possible.

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PEACE COMMUNICATORS

Giving Back to West Timor
BY YOHANES VICTOR LASI USBOBO
Due to some issues with our visa and stay permit in Myanmar, Dwight and I went back to our home countries earlier than expected. Because of this, I flew back to Jakarta on the morning of January 26.

As part of the program, I began to plan for my follow-up activities with my home organization — ITP. We decided to conduct two sharing activities, one with the ITP staff in Jakarta and one in my hometown in West Timor. My first information-sharing activity was held on January 26 with the ITP staff. Plu Reh, the PeaceComm fellow assigned to ITP, also attended the activity. Most of the staff were interested on this exchange program because it is beneficial, not only for the participants, but also to its partners. Based on this, all of the staff hoped that the network established through this program will be strengthened, especially in working for peace in Southeast Asia. On February 18, I traveled to Atambua in Belu District in West Timor to share my experiences with the community leaders in the area. Belu District is 250 kilometers from my hometown and it also borders the country of East Timor. It took me around eight hours by bus to reach this town from Kupang. I chose Atambua as a place to share my experiences because I worked in this area in facilitating the community in their peace-building activities since 2004. Being at the border with East Timor, Atambua is the largest base for refugees from East Timor. Attended by government representatives, community leaders, and ex-East Timorese refugees, the sharing activity lasted about four hours. It was an interesting session, especially when I told them about the current situation in Myanmar and the FK exchange program. From March 25 to 26, I also facilitated an activity for community leaders in Kupang. It was attended by 23 participants from three districts, namely; Kupang City, Kupang Regent and TTS Regent. It was held at Wisma Oemathonis in the capital of Kupang regency. We chose Camplong because it was in the middle of the three districts and it is easy for the participant to go. This activity was organized with the help of Lopo Dame Flobamora and the Commission for Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation of the Archdiocese of Kupang. From these two activities, I noticed that many people in West Timor didn’t know the difference between Myanmar and Burma. They thought Burma was different from Myanmar. Their knowledge about Myanmar was only limited to the news from television and newspapers. Most of them are only aware of the military regime, Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and some Burmese refugees arrested by Indonesian police while trying to cross into Australia. During these activities, I shared my experiences from the PrepCourse in Bangkok and my activities in Myanmar. I also discussed the current situation in Myanmar and the presence of Shalom Foundation as a local NGO involved in peace building and conflict prevention and also in facilitating dialogue with the Myanmar government. I also shared my experiences to some communities in Ayotupas (TTS), Manufonu and Wini (the border areas between TTU Regent and Oekusi Distric of East Timor). All in all, participants from the information-sharing activities gained new perspective and information on the current situation in Myanmar. The PeaceComm program, which was organized by FK and its partners, gave me the opportunity to improve my skills, to get to know other people, culture and the way of life of Myanmar and to share these experiences especially to West Timorese. I hope that this program will be extended to continue working for equality, mutual understanding and cooperation among Asian countries and to eradicate poverty, prevent conflict and, in the long term, bring about lasting peace.

PEACE COMMUNICATORS

VOLUME 2 | ISSUE 4

Coming Home to Bhutan
BY DAWA TSHERING
After I returned to Bhutan, I immediately organized an information sharing workshop for the staff of Tarayana. From March 21 to 22, I shared my experiences and the lessons I learned from fellowship. On the first day, I shared them information about Fredskorpset, the PeaceComm exchange program and my learning experiences during ten months that I was posted in the Philippines. I also shared new project ideas which we could adopt here in Bhutan, like the coffee for peace, corn husk decoration, and the benefits of a community radio program. On the second day, I gave presentations on the RICE model, mass communication, community radio program, the roles of development workers, and participatory-community approach. I also shared reading materials which are very relevant to our work. The info-sharing workshop seminar allowed me to share my experiences with my colleagues and all the participants were very happy with my presentations. All the knowledge and experiences shared will be very useful in improving our community work with Tarayana. After my information-sharing workshop, I was tasked to visit the new project site assigned to me. Together with a colleague from Tarayana, we went to the remote village of Langdarbi. A two-day walk from the nearest road point, this village has no access to road and to electricity.

During my field visit, I shared the ideas of a community radio program with the community members and they were very impressed with the idea. Although we could not start setting-up the community radio program due to the absence of a National policy on radio broadcasting, there were still positive responses from both the government and the public. We are now just waiting for the government’s instruction to start the community radio program in the country.

Applying What I’ve Learned
BY PLU REH
When I came home, I immediately took part in different activities within my hometown of Deemawso and I was given the task to help organize that annual festival of Kay Htyo Boe. Usually celebrated in March and April, the traditional Kay Htyo Boe festival is the only event in Kayah state, when communities gather together to celebrate their pre-Christianity customs and practices. It was my responsibility to coordinate with the eight nearby villages to participate in the celebrations. Aside from the traditional Kayah ceremonies, dance and song competitions and a volleyball tournament were also held. During the last day of the festival, a problem arose between two villages after the championship round of the volleyball game. After the team from Daw Kalokhu village won just by a point, the losing team complained and demanded a rematch after a “bad call” from the referee. The tension escalated when the losing players started attacking the winning team. Some even tried to burn other people’s houses. A total of four men were seriously injured. Consequently, the relationship between the two villages continued to get sour. Village leaders immediately asked me to solve the tension between the two villages. Learning from the CEWERS activities from my assignment in Indonesia, I facilitated in setting-up a mediation team to start the conflict resolution process. With this, we conducted meetings and dialogues for about 12 times within four weeks. After much discussions and meetings with the concerned parties, both sides decided to reconcile. Both parties vowed in front of the Kay Htyo Boe traditional poles to continue to live in peace. Seeing the reconciliation between the two villages, I realized that the best way to solve a conflict is to make all the concerned parties deeply involved in the process. We, the mediators, are just the facilitators of this process. Actually, this problem was very small if we compare it to others. But it was still a great experience for our community. Because of what happened, we’ve been getting great responses from many neighbouring communities.

This page is part of the April 2011 Issue of the Peace Communicators Newsletter.

VOLUME 2 | ISSUE 4

PEACE COMMUNICATORS
BY HKAM AWNG

A Fresh Start in Myanmar
When we came back to Myanmar, we immediately had a meeting to plan for our follow-up activities in Yangon and in our hometown in Myitkyina. For the whole month of March, I conducted four information sharing workshops on the PeaceComm 5 experience. The first workshop was conducted in Yangon where the participants were Shalom’s youth fellows and other field officers from Kayah and Kachin states. The second workshop was conducted at Shalom’s head office in Myitkyina in Kachin state. Organized together with Hkun Myat, this workshop was attended by staff members from the different programs and projects of Shalom. The third workshop was also conducted in Myitkyina with youth

volunteers attending the said event. The last workshop was conducted in Yangon on March 30. The workshop included presentations from me, Plu Reh, and Hkun Myat. During these workshops, I specifically shared my experiences and knowledge on the way of life and culture of Bhutanese people, the initiatives of Tarayana Foundation, and the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) of Bhutan. I am really thankful to FK and my home and host organizations for guiding me during the exchange program since it started in March 2010 until I safely returned home in February 2011.

SHARING THE PEACECOMM EXPERIENCE. FK fellows Hkam Awng, Hkun Myat, and Plu Reh discussing their experiences at their information sharing activities in Yangon and Myitkyina in Myanmar. HKUN MYAT

This page is part of the April 2011 Issue of the Peace Communicators Newsletter.

PEACE COMMUNICATORS

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Communicating Peace
BY MYRA FLOR SIOCO

My posting in Bhutan has finally ended and it’s now our responsibility to share in our home countries what we have learned. Information-sharing activities is part of our task to ensure that the acquired skills, lessons learned, and the knowledge gained will be passed onto others. Aside from sharing our stories through PeaceComm newsletter, we have also planned to impart valuable information through forums and radio interviews. A forum on Communicating Peace was organized by Dwight Jason Ronan, a co-Filipino FK participant who was posted in Myanmar. He invited me to join him in sharing our experiences in our host countries as exchange participants. I’m thankful because I was able to meet about 80 junior students from the University of the Philippines in Los Baños and share with them the challenges I faced in relation to community broadcasting in Bhutan. It was also great opportunity for me to share Bhutan’s socio-economic development, their culture, the Gross National Happiness concept and other challenges I dealt with while living and working in a different country. We also attended conferences on Peace and Security in the country where all peace organizations gathered to discuss the current state of negotiations between the government and two Islamic Militant groups. These forums have increased my understanding on the peace efforts initiated by the government. They have also encouraged the civil society groups to take an active role in strengthening peace efforts initiated by the government. We were also invited by some radio stations to share our knowledge and experiences in our host countries. Through the radio interviews, we were able to reach a wider audience and impart to them what we learned from the exchange program. Living in harmony with the nature, learning to live independently and living a simple life are few of the things I learned when I was in Bhutan. During the 10-month posting, I also learned how to appreciate simple things in life and value more our relationships with family and friends. Through the trainings and workshops I’ve attended, I also gained more knowledge about project management and fund raising. The individual meetings I had with the program and field officers have given me better understanding on how to effectively mobilize the people in the rural villages. It’s because of this experience that I would like to be part of a community-based organization in my country. I find it more rewarding to work closely with the people and personally see the impact of a development project in their lives.
FK fellows Myra Sioco and Dwight Jason Ronan during the “Communicating Peace: The Myanmar and Bhutan PeaceComm Experience” forum at University of the Philippines Los Baños.

Please see attached insert for other information sharing activities of the participants.

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PEACE COMMUNICATORS

PEACE COMMUNICATORS
is produced by the Environmental Broadcast Circle (EBC) of the Philippines in partnership with the Institut Titian Perdamaian (ITP) of Indonesia, Shalom (Nyein) Foundation (SF) of Myanmar and Tarayana Foundation (TF) of Bhutan. Together, they form the PeaceComm Exchange Program which aims to promote mutual exchange of knowledge, experiences, and skills on peace and communication. With support from:

Message from the Lead Partner

Elizabeth Roxas Executive Director Environmental Broadcast Circle It feels sad that PeaceComm as a project is coming to an end. On the other hand, PeaceComm is happy and proud of the thirty (30) participants and six (6) partner organizations who directly benefited from this exchange program. We believe that the knowledge, experience and skills on peace and communication that we gained will remain with us in working towards the achievement of a just and lasting peace. There have been challenges in the implementation and barriers along the way, but this simply tells us that nobody is excused to certain circumstances which may lead to conflict. It is how we manage the conflicts and not let these destroy the bridges that we are trying to build through different communication channels and strategies towards right and appropriate messages. This in a way has taught us to practice what we preach in PeaceComm— we do RICE -- Research on the issues as a basis for getting the right Information, active listening to parties involved and deep understanding of the situation necessary for determining the proper ways and means of Communication that leads towards Education to let other people become aware of the issues and later participate in the move for peace. I would like to congratulate the 30 participants who are now certified peace communicators. May you live the true values and real essence of such a title in your respective countries and works and in the way you live your lives. To the partners, who are peace communicators themselves, accept our apologies for the shortcomings of a lead partner. Trust that every effort has been exerted for the benefit of the project, setting aside negative energies, but drawing more from the advantages of our collective successes and accomplishments and building on them to create a solid force to continue working on our common goals and explore possibilities of future partnerships within or even without. But within or without, let us spread the true essence of partnerships through mutual understanding, mutual support and cooperation, and must importantly mutual TRUST. It is through our continuing perseverance that will determine the success and sustainability of this partnership —even beyond PeaceComm. To FK, we cannot thank you enough for your continuing efforts in providing the technical and financial means to back us up to ensure that we achieve the goals of this project. We appreciate your sincere desire to uplift the economic, social and political conditions of the people in the developing world, addressing the resolutions to poverty eradication and realization of human rights—ultimately, peace.

Editorial Committee: Ja Nan Lahtaw (SF) Ichsan Malik (ITP) Chime Paden Wangdi (TF) Elizabeth Roxas (EBC) Mimi Ricamunda (EBC) Dwight Jason Ronan (Participant) Chief Editor: Elizabeth Roxas Contributors: Dawa Tshering (Bhutan) Yohanes Victor Lasi Usbobo (Indonesia) Hkam Awng (Myanmar) Hkun Myat (Myanmar) Plu Reh (Myanmar) Dwight Jason Ronan (Philippines) Myra Flor Sioco (Philippines) Production Coordinator: Dulce Cuacoyes Lay-out and Design: Dwight Jason Ronan Environmental Broadcast Circle (EBC) 3F GIF Medical Building, 510 C. Raymundo Avenue Caniogan, Pasig City, 1606, Philippines Telephone Number: +6326434583 Fax Number: +6326422128 E-mail: ebc@ebc.org.ph

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