Youth Solidarity for Peace or YSP was formally established in 2008, stemming from a youth movement advocating the Culture of Peace and fighting against discrimination across cultures like Muslims, Yakan, Christians and Indigenous People. In an area perceived to be conflict-ridden, YSP now serves as the youth arm of Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ). Hence, the name of the project PAZ for SMILE.
During the TAYO 8 National Finals, Aldrin Abdurahim spoke of how he was struck by a documentary he saw in Illinois “branding Zamboanga City as the kidnapping capital of the world.” He also explained that his experience of change-making and being part of the TAYO Search fueled his desire of “transforming our ideal communities to real communities that could change the image of the country in international scene.”
YSP espouses “a multi-faceted approach of synergizing and bridging peace, solidarity and leadership among communities.” Instead of merely preaching about the value of peace, PAZ for SMILE works in line with the philosophy that families, communities, individuals may truly come to embrace the ideal of peace, when necessities like food, access to healthcare and literacy are not overlooked. The project works in such a way that it first addresses the basic needs of people.
What’s the Story?
SMILE, short for Shaping Mission Integrating Life’s Experiences, created an avenue for interreligious dialogue, interaction and cooperation. From June 2009 to June 2010, YSP was able to reach about 2000 people in 7 communities by conducting peace camps, workshops, and outreach activities under this umbrella project.
The PAZ for SMILE consists of a 4-point program, namely: Responsive Education Amidst Adversity or READ, which addresses illiteracy and provides indigent kids reading materials and tutorials; PIYES, meaning feet in Chavacano, which provides slippers to children and the elderly; SHARE which stands for Smile for Hygiene Awareness; and Culture Across Real Experiences or CARE, which gives high school and college students a proper knowledge on the dynamics peace and the culture surrounding it.
Throughout the implementation of the project, YSP was able to connect thirty youth-affiliated organizations that include the Department of Education, 34 High Schools in Zamboanga City, Universities and Colleges, parishes, local government units and print/production houses.
Recognition and Success
While other people have given up on the peace and order situation in the South, Youth Solidarity for Peace has created a synergy of peace efforts successfully yielding partnerships with different peace organizations, hospitals and sponsors. This youth organization decided that something had to be done to address the issue of peace by first truly connecting with people instead of merely telling them about it. These young peace advocates decided that there was no room to be angry. They decided that were going to be change itself.