How to Build a More Ethical Society

The Changemakers Innovation Award in Ethics is looking for innovative ideas from you for how adults and young people together can create a more ethical, morally courageous and empathetic society. Changemakers will give an award of $5,000 to the top three entries, as voted by the Changemakers community of readers. Additionally, there is a possibility that Changemakers will bring together the awardees with other innovators in the field for a meeting to discuss ideas and consider collaboration. If you have an idea and would like to submit it to the Changemakers Innovation Award, please read the competition criteria and fill out the application form. We look forward to receiving your ideas!

Prizes
Changemakers will give an award of $5,000 to the top three entries.

Timeline

Winner is Announced

June 29, 2005
  • Launch
    May 31, 2005
  • Entry Deadline
    June 29, 2005
  • Voting start
    May 31, 2005
  • Voting end
    June 29, 2005
  • Winner is Announced
    June 29, 2005

Competition entries were required to address the criteria below. Voting ended on September 8 at midnight US Eastern time. Contest deadlines, procedures, and rules are described below.

The winners of the Changemakers Innovation Award for building a more ethical society will be those entries that best address the following criteria. (For competition entries submitted by individuals, please substitute "individual" for "organization" in the language below.)

Systemic Impact

  • The organization has the potential to create systemic change at a national or regional level that fundamentally shapes a more ethical, morally courageous and empathetic society with the participation of young people and adults.

  • The innovative model of the organization's strategy or operations shows promise of creating notable change in a country or region in the role that ethics plays in society.

Ethical Action

  • The organization provides a real-life anecdote demonstrating how its ethical initiative has led (or might lead) to ethical action, behavior or awareness that represents a positive and welcome change.

Replication

  • The model or key components of the model are being replicated, either by the organization or through other agencies, or a compelling case has been made for future replication.

  • The model is compelling and the "how-tos" can be conveyed clearly to other organizations so the model will spread on its own merits.

  • The organization believes in sharing the model openly and when possible assists others in understanding and implementing it.

Sustainability

  • The organization and its model can achieve a significant degree of self-sustainability and are likely to be perpetuated over the long-term.

  • A diversity of resources are used to sustain the model (e.g., in-kind support of volunteers or members; earned revenue; governmental partnerships; individual donors), and these resources strategically compliment the model, increasing its impact, efficiency, and replicability.

Innovation

  • The organization uses an innovative strategic or operational model or applies established approaches in a nontraditional manner.


Contest Deadlines, Procedures, and Rules

The deadline for contest entries was noon on August 17, 2005 U.S. Eastern Time. Entrants could submit an updated version of their first entry based on questions and insights they received in the Changemakers.net discussion. Entries must be in English.

Financial Statement: To be eligible to win, ALL project teams/organizations (with the exception of local governments and universities) MUST enclose current income statement and balance sheet. These financial statements need not be audited. If you are an individual partnering with an organization to implement your work, then we require a copy of the partnering organization's income financial statement. If you are an individual without an organizational partner, you are exempt from the filing requirement. Purpose: These statements will be viewed only by members of a Changemakers screening panel for the sole purpose of establishing that the organization that submits a contest entry is a legitimate entity. They will be held in strictest confidence.

Entrants are encouraged to send photos that illustrate their idea to ethics@changemakers.net.

Prior to the start of voting, visitors to the Web site rated—from one to five stars—the contest entries. These ratings were not used to determine the finalists or competition winners.

A panel of judges selected the competition finalists. Online voting for the three winners from among the finalists ended on September 8. The three Changemakers Innovation Award winners will be announced on September 9. Organizations from any country may submit entries but they must be written in English to enter the competition.

For more information, contact ethics@changemakers.net.

This mosaic contains examples of how social entrepreneurs are developing ways for adults and youths to work together to create a more ethical, morally courageous, and empathetic society. It demonstrates that these solutions' collective impact is greater than the sum of their individual parts. Together, they have the potential for pushing society close to a tipping point beyond which it is fundamentally changed so that ethics become a primary guiding force for how we interact. This mosaic is meant to be used as a tool for making connections, creating synergies, identifying emerging trends and patterns, and finding and filling gaps.



Principles





Factors
Developing awareness of oneself (an identity) and of the interconnectedness with others Showing that people are more the same than different, and enabling people to find these common ideals, principles and language Building skills in how to care, uphold values and make principled choices Enabling self-permission to change oneself or one's circumstances
Fatalism Constanza Ardila Galves
Colombia
Ana Teresa Bernal Montañés
Colombia

Bongani Linda
South Africa

Paul Hogan
Sri Lanka
Hernando Roldan
Colombia

Glen Steyn
South Africa

Ignorance of
Consequences
Susan Steinman
South Africa

Lilian Liberman
Mexico

Sister Cyril Mooney
India
Mary Gordan
Canada

Nelsa Curbelo
Ecuador

Otherness Lesley Ann van Selm
South Africa

Susheela Bhan
India

João Aurore Romão
Brazil

Sofyan Tan
Indonesia

Charles Maisel
South Africa

Helena Balabanova
Czech Republic

Ricardo Hernandez Arellano
Mexico

Magdaleno Rose Avila
El Salvador
Value Extremism Yayuk Rahanyu
Indonesia
Eboo Patel
USA
Andreas D'Souza
India
Individualism Ashraf Patel
India
Mahmood Fadal
South Africa
Myrna Wajsman-Lewis
South Africa
Chibuzo Ekwekwuo
Nigeria

This mosaic contains the names of individuals who are leading organizations with exemplary ideas for how adults and youths can work together to create a more ethical, morally courageous and empathetic society. They are organized in columns by four fundamental principles that have emerged from their work.

They also are organized by rows according to which of five factors — that help explain the absence of ethics, moral courage and emphathy in society — they impact more directly. The factors are:

  • Fatalism. There is a pervasive sense — from the jungles of Colombia to Wall Street — that individual actions are without overarching consequence. "I can't change things; it's always been this way." Steeped in a history of unethical behavior, people grow complacent and feel powerless to change it.

  • Ignorance of consequences. People often realize they are doing something they shouldn't, but they don't see the full implications of their actions and how others can be hurt by them. If they stop and think through how their actions hurt others, they are less likely to follow through with such actions.

  • Otherness. The less we know and understand other persons or groups, and the more they are "different" from us, the easier it is for us to act unethically toward them.

  • Values extremism. Throughout history, groups have pitted their values against each other. Rather than guiding ethical behavior, values often are used to justify unethical behavior — persecution, aggression, mistreatment. We see this today, with religious and political extremisms, among others. Rather than seeking common ground to work together, extremists hold themselves as "right" and opponents as "wrong", and use values as license for unconscionable behavior.

  • Individualism. There is a sense in our society of each person needing to look out for him/herself. When our sense of responsibility turns away from the community to only ourselves we are more likely to act irresponsibly toward the rest of the community.

Profiles

Project Leader: Constanza Ardila Galvis
Organization: CEDAVIDA
Country: Colombia
Principle: Developing self-awareness and interconnectedness
Factor: Fatalism
Links:
http://www.childrenoftheandes.org/Cedavida-youth.htm, http://www.childrenoftheandes.org/Cedavida-Peace.htm

Constanza Ardila Galvis' organization CEDAVIDA is halting Colombia's cycle of violence through a therapeutic process that equips victims of violence to resist the inevitability of becoming programmed for aggression themselves. Through an initiative called Community Builders of Peace that helps people come to terms with personal traumas and comprehend the effects of violence, CEDAVIDA is creating a citizenry invested in fostering a culture of peace and empowered to say "no" to violence.

In Colombia, continuous armed conflict has created a society driven by brutal survivalist principles. In the last decade, fighting has displaced over a million people, with a majority of them under 25 years of age. Statistics tell a grim tale of their early induction into violence, and most eventually sign up with the very forces that had displaced them, in order simply to survive. Social values reinforce this culture. Children are taught to unquestioningly obey authority, eschew weakness, and respond to intimidation with aggression or submission. The process of socialization therefore is a blunting of sensibilities, and kids grow up blocking out their own pain and losing their capacity to understand another's. Damaged themselves, they grow up to damage others and perpetuate violence.

CEDAVIDA's approach guides individuals along a process of emotional healing where, by confronting and resolving past traumas, they regain the capacity to feel and empathize. In accepting and exploring their own pain, they reclaim their right to feel, and learn to be especially sensitive to the destructive effect of violent acts. CEDAVIDA operates through a growing network of trained "social therapists" who typically have become change agents after having undergone the therapy themselves. CEDAVIDA works with teachers, community workers, conflict negotiators, police, and the military in its effort to propel Colombian society from war to peace.


Project Leader: Ana Teresa Bernal Montañés
Organization: REDEPAZ (National Network of Citizen Initiatives for Peace)
Country: Colombia
Principle: Revealing common ideals, principles, and language
Factor: Fatalism
Links:
http://www.redepaz.org.co/

Ana Teresa Bernal's organization REDEPAZ is strengthening the peace movement in Colombia by bringing together peace organizations of youths, women, and indigenous groups to form a strong and cohesive voice. United, these organizations are setting a common agenda and creating their own solutions to Colombia's problems instead of waiting for actors of the armed conflict to do so.

For nearly four decades, Colombia has been in the throes of armed conflict, with guerilla groups, the army, paramilitary groups, and drug cartels waging war with each other. For young people, survival often means enlisting with armed groups, thereby swelling their ranks and ensuring the continuity of conflict. As frustration grows with the unceasing turmoil, growing numbers are favoring violent options, making it increasingly urgent for concentrated efforts to keep the focus on nonviolent resolutions. But citizen peace initiatives have been solitary, scattered, low-impact efforts, and civil society has been excluded from negotiations and general discussions on the conflict.

REDEPAZ provides the critical missing piece in the search for peaceful solutions to Colombia's problems: a vehicle to engage the citizen sector. It has facilitated crucial linkages allowing a mass movement demanding peace and resisting violence, and forcing politicians and armed groups to pay attention. It has held public referenda where children and adults have had a chance to officially vote for peace, compelling political parties to include the peace mandate in their agendas, stimulating negotiations between warring factions, and moving the corporate sector to take a stand against violence.

REDEPAZ has enabled the citizen sector to establish its presence at the negotiation table. To promote the culture of peace in concrete terms it has established peace territories - civic areas that declare themselves "at peace" and adopt measures to prevent the intrusion of violence from armed conflict.


Project Leader: Bongani Linda
Organization: Victory Sonqoba Theater Company
Country: South Africa
Principle: Revealing common ideals, principles, and language
Factor: Fatalism

Bongani Linda is building trust between historically divided communities in South Africa through joint participation in music, dance, theater, and sports that enables members of conflicting groups to discover commonalities and accept each other. His program leverages the central role of culture and sports in South African townships and uses these activities as dynamic points of contact between groups, thus replacing traditional barriers of hostility and suspicion with bridges founded on mutual respect and tolerance.

The townships of South Africa continue to suffer the effects of state-promoted injustices and instability of the apartheid era. The White government followed a plan aimed at neutralizing potential Black unity by implementing policies calculated to cause divisiveness in the latter. The government strategically segregated rural Black migrants for unskilled work on the basis of language groups, packing them into inhospitable hostels situated at the edge of townships. This policy kept rural groups separated from each other and from the urban community and fostered a climate of suspicion between everyone. As townships grew and jobs became scarce, enmities deepened. By the time apartheid was lifted and Black enfranchisement realized, the stage was set for the various groups to unleash their mutual hatreds through unending violent, bloody acts in the name of politics.

Linda's model facilitates engagement between the two communities—township residents and migrants—that promote understanding, appreciation, and dialogue. They are empowered to conceptualize the possibility of peace and their role as its architects. Delegates from both communities form task teams to put together sports or cultural activities. They are given training in leadership and conflict management. Prizes are awarded at the events for cultural development of the winning teams' local areas. Workshops designed to mobilize the communities in reconciliation and peace efforts follow the awards events.


Project Leader: Paul Hogan
Organization: Butterfly Peace Garden
Country: Sri Lanka
Principle: Building ability to care, uphold values, and make principled decisions
Factor: Fatalism
Links:
http://www.thestupidschool.ca/bpg/index2.html, http://www.warchild.ca/projects_detail.asp?ID=31

In war-torn Sri Lanka, Paul Hogan, through his organization, Butterfly Peace Garden (BPG), is providing a haven in which traumatized children can address the damage within themselves, and from which they can take the lead in directing the larger society on a path of reconciliation and healing, thus breaking down manmade barriers to peace.

Civil war in Sri Lanka has left almost 60,000 dead, and citizens have been constantly exposed to a relentless cycle of terror tactics and attacks. As communities found themselves under unprecedented strain, relations between different ethnic and religious groups broke down. Children particularly have been targets for much of the violence, e.g., as recruits, spies, and suspected enemies, and thousands of them have been displaced.

Hogan set up BPG as a short-term physical space for child victims of war in Sri Lanka. It brings together children from warring communities and, under the expert guidance of trained facilitators, encourages them to build trusting relationships, and to share their feelings with others. This is done through everyday activities such as caring for animals and the garden, singing, playing, and painting. The children embark upon journeys of self-exploration, steered by their counselors who guide them through their emotions in privacy. Over time the children become the Garden's agents for healing the wider society in which they live, including parents, teachers, religious leaders, and soldiers.

Started off as a healing center for kids, today it is the kids themselves who are the primary bearers of healing. As the lessons learned in the Garden go beyond its walls, the change within leads to change in everyone. The model has been an inspiration for social entrepreneurs, therapists, citizen sector organizations, mental health professionals, and others the world over.


Project Leader: Hernando Roldán
Organization: Conflict Resolution Center
Country: Colombia
Principle: Enabling self-permission to change
Factor: Fatalism

Hernando Roldán is combating urban violence in Colombia by training ex-vigilante youths in the skills of nonviolent, voluntary community-based conflict resolution. Since much of the violence is an attempt to solve problems by a society unequipped with any other means of solution, by providing effective non-violent alternatives, Roldán is enabling communities to use peace to build peace.

Decades of armed conflict waged by multiple groups-including the military, guerilla forces, and the drug militia-have made violence a way of life in Colombia. And ensuring waves of displaced rural populations flow into urban centers placing massive stress on public service systems that cannot cope with the load. For the new immigrants, whose numbers keep swelling, survival is a live-or-die contest for food, shelter, and livelihood. Most resort to violence to secure their rights or participate in society. Recent state-organized conflict resolution exercises have had little impact, mainly because they are imposed from the outside, have no local ownership and fail to utilize social, cultural, and familial traditions.

Roldán's model paves the way for the community's youth leaders to participate in well-structured, nonviolent conflict resolution activities. The first center was started with ex-vigilante youth; subsequent centers emerged from training programs reaching out through sports clubs, women's groups, and church organizations.

The young volunteers are trained in civil, inclusive, and respectful mediation. They help opposing parties see each other's points of view, respect boundaries, and formulate fair alternatives. The disputes cover issues ranging from domestic violence to property conflicts. Disputing parties appear at their own volition. With violent community members like drug dealers, conflict resolvers take proactive roles, counseling them individually and charting out plans both for their return to peaceful lives and for restitution for their victims.

The volunteers also provide citizenship education to diverse community organizations. Active networking with authorities has resulted in support from police, military, and municipal bodies.


Project Leader: Glen Steyn
Organization: Conquest for Life
Country: South Africa
Principle: Enabling self-permission to change
Factor: Fatalism
Link:
http://www.conquest.org.za/index.htm

Through his organization Conquest for Life (CFL), Glen Steyn is helping young people escape from gangs and establish a new environment that supports and demands a commitment to life-giving change. He is helping youths transform hopelessness into hope and break the cycle of endemic "lumpenism" that tyrannizes the community.

During apartheid, non-whites were relegated to townships remote from city centers. Poverty, unemployment, and the resultant frustration drove the youths to an extractive life of crime and bullying, thereby multiplying drug gangs and thuggery and spreading terror in communities. Westbury Township, where CFL started off, provides a unique case: gangs there effectively "own" the children born to their members' families and indoctrinate them into the gangster life. A gang's power derives partly from its ability to function as a family substitute, where gangsters bestow favors on the latter, and a family-like bond discourages members from breaking free of the gang. Further, leaving a gang may reduce a household's income.

To break out of gang influence and begin the hard work of building alternative trust relationships, CFL holds outdoor camps for 14- to 25-year-olds away from their regular environment and the peer pressure that comes with it. A second program provides a safe after-school self-esteem and life-skills course for children in which peacemaking skills are taught. Another arm of the initiative is an income-generation project to make the youths self-sufficient enough to break from their economic dependence on the gangs. To ensure that the young people get a head start, CFL negotiates contracts with companies and organizations. An important aspect of the program is bringing families and other community members together into the process of assisting youth, a process in which the adults are offered job skills training as well. Recognizing that healing the victims of gang life is just as important, CFL has skilled community mediators who show traumatized youths that an alternative life is possible.

CFL's methodology has spread to Northern Ireland, Ethiopia, and the United States.


Project Leader: Susan Marais-Steinman
Organization: Workplace Dignity Foundation
Country: South Africa
Principle: Developing self-awareness and interconnectedness
Factor: Ignorance of consequences
Links:
http://www.worktrauma.org/

Susan Steinman is making South African workplaces equitable, trauma-free environments by establishing a work culture of dignity and respect. By exposing the extent and far-reaching damage of workplace abuse on the one hand, and building pressure groups composed of stakeholders to lobby for appropriate policy and legislation on the other, Steinman is effectively combating the neglected evil of victimization at work.

Globally, workplace violence has been spiraling, but the lack of data has meant few alarm bells going off. Victimization is typically characterized by a person being consistently persecuted physically or mentally by an individual or group against whom the "prey" cannot offer defense. Steinman's pioneering research revealed that 35 percent of South Africans have experienced workplace hostility, but few speak up because in an economic climate where unemployment is high, no one wants to risk retrenchment. Yet, the effects are widely manifest in poor worker motivation and absenteeism. Families suffer as abused wage-earners go into depression, often venting their frustration on spouses and children through emotional and physical cruelty. Their children are more likely to develop into abusive adults, thereby perpetuating the cycle of violence.

Steinman has designed a three-pronged spoke to jam this destructive wheel. First: engage a cross-section of stakeholders - management, workers, unions, government - by collecting data and effectively presenting it in publications, workshops, and conferences. This provides incontrovertible evidence of the scale of abuse and its impact on both the bottom line and home fronts. Second: advocate for policy and legislative changes that provide legal recourse for victims. Third: develop and implement conflict resolution mechanisms for the workplace. Major milestones include: developing a Code of Conduct designed to eliminate workplace violence. This code has been incorporated by the labor department and by diamond blue-chip company De Beers. Steinman is now lobbying for inclusion of the code in national legislation.


Project Leader: Lilian Liberman Shkolnikoff
Organization: Yaocihuatl
Country: Mexico
Principle: Developing self-awareness and interconnectedness
Factor: Ignorance of consequences
Links:
http://www.yaocihuatl.org/

In Mexico, Lilian Liberman Shkolnikoff's organization Yaocihuatl (Woman Warrior) is fighting child abuse through a preemptive offensive designed to destroy the cyclical nature of violence against children. Rejecting the common reactive approach, Yaocihuatl combines educational videos and therapy to sensitize communities to the issue, stop patterns of mistreatment, and train them in detecting and preventing abuse. The result: children find themselves less vulnerable to violation and therefore to becoming violators in turn.

Official statistics put child abuse in Mexico at a staggering quarter-million-plus cases annually. Yet, this is a fraction of the actual incidence. Most instances go unreported, especially sexual abuse, because of social taboos that prevent victims and families from coming forward. Victims of childhood trauma suffer profound psychological scarring and odds are high of them perpetuating violence in future relationships. However, with a government choosing a post-event "treatment" policy and a society unequipped to acknowledge, prevent, or deal with child abuse, recurring violence is the result.

Yaocihuatl's strategies empower children and adults to play active roles in preventing violence against kids. Simple but powerful videos on child abuse are followed by structured group therapy that channels information from the videos to children and adults separately. Kids are alerted to danger signals and ways to deal with them. Adults undergo "revaluation co-counseling" through which they are encouraged to understand the underlying causes of abuse, recognize its existence (or potential) in their own homes, and explore solutions to such undesirable patterns. After the initial session, adults form independent groups to continue this therapy. Yaocihutl's facilitators are also trained to identify victims who require professional assistance and offer them referral services.

Yaocihuatl is not only pushing child abuse into public awareness and arming kids against this danger but also improving the emotional health of families and communities, further reducing the risk of the maltreatment of kids.


Project Leader: Sister Cyril Mooney
Organization: Loreto Day School, Sealdah
Country: India
Principle: Revealing common ideals, principles, and language
Factor: Ignorance of consequences

In India, under the principalship of Sister Cyril Mooney, Loreto Day School, Sealdah, is breaking down the social and economic barriers that keep Indian society rigidly stratified by creating a system where a socially mixed student population interacts as peers and learns and lives the lessons of empathy.

The deep differences in Indian society are generally reflected in and reinforced by the school system. The small number of India's privileged upper- and middle-class students attend private, English-medium schools. The majority go to government-run regional language institutions where the quality of education ranges from mediocre to abysmal. Education separates the haves from the have-nots in terms of life options, and the parallel worlds they occupy during school days set the pattern for the different planets they will inhabit as adults.

At the core of Loreto Sealdah's strategy to bridge the rich-poor divide is an admission policy that ensures at least 50 percent of students are non-fee-paying children from surrounding slums. The student population is thus a healthy mix of social, financial, and religious backgrounds. From the word go, students from both ends of the spectrum deal with differences and grow to be sensitive to other realities, and their ability to respond appropriately is honed and expanded. Compassion and caring become internalized ways of being.

A number of other school programs reinforce the values of tolerance and inclusiveness and sharpen the children's emotional intelligence. Under the Rainbow School program, all students from grades 5-10 spend 90 minutes each week, individually tutoring homeless children from the neighborhood. Under the Rural Child-to-Child Programme, students make weekly visits to rural areas to tutor village children in their own age group. Beyond the academic benefits, it creates an opportunity for two groups that would normally never interact, to come together and understand each other's worlds.

The Hidden Domestic Child Labour Programme is another empathy-nurturing experience. Students formclubs with the mandate to seek out at least 16 of these underage workers every week. To a disenfranchised group such as child domestics, companionship with other kids returns to them their childhood, even if momentarily.


Project Leader: Mary Gordon
Organization: Roots of Empathy (ROE)
Country: Canada
Principle: Building ability to care, uphold values, and make principled decisions
Factor: Ignorance of consequences
Links:
http://www.rootsofempathy.org/Home.html

Mary Gordon's program Roots of Empathy (ROE) is reducing childhood aggression in Canada by teaching emotional literacy to students and fostering in them feelings of empathy. Through a classroom-based program that encourages young victims of childhood violence to recognize and manage their own emotions and correctly interpret and responds to others', ROE is mitigating the damaging, emotion-deadening impact of childhood trauma that often leads to an abusive, antisocial personality.

Over the past decades Canada has experienced a sharp increase in domestic violence, child abuse, and youth violence. While a complex set of socioeconomic factors is driving this alarming phenomenon, one fundamental factor perpetuating this trend is that risk of abuse grows exponentially for victims of violence: they are most likely to become perpetuators themselves. Children who suffer parental neglect or abuse are left with an impaired ability to be sensitive to others' emotions or to be in tune with their own. Misreading the emotional cues of others, they typically respond with hostility and aggression. Existing educational programs aimed at deterring violence fail because they focus on the consequences rather than equipping individuals with the emotional literacy needed to reconnect with their feelings and to empathize with those of others.

The ROE program counters the emotional damage that children have suffered by teaching 3 to 14-year-olds the affective side of parenting. Each class "adopts" a baby for the year. With the help of a parent and trained ROE instructors, the students learn to interpret and verbalize the baby's emotions and needs from its sounds and movements. As they explore, analyze, and articulate the baby's behavior in order to form the appropriate responses, their emotional literacy develops, and they gain proficiency in identifying their own states of mind, the feelings of others, and realize how their actions affect others. Every school year brings a new baby and a reinforcement and expansion of this emotional healing and positive social skills, and it improves students' chances of forming "good" relationships as adults.


Project Leader: Nelsa Curbelo
Organization: Ser Paz
Country: Ecuador
Target group: Youth-led conflict resolution
Principle: Building ability to care, uphold values, and make principled decisions
Factor: Ignorance of consequences
Links:
http://www.gencat.net/interior/dialegs2004/ponencias/Nelsa_Curbelo_eng.pdf

In war-torn Ecuador, Nelsa Curbelo's organization Ser Paz has launched a peace offensive led by an ever-expanding army of youth who reject violence as a solution to problems, opting instead for nonconfrontational tactics based on mutual respect and understanding. Ser Paz leverages the tremendous potential of the country's young to lead social change by encouraging them to imagine a different world and putting them in charge of making it real.

Almost half of Ecuador's population is under 21. This represents a substantial resource for the country, yet Ecuadorian youth have no voice in national forums and no decision-making roles in shaping their country's future. Even student unions have been co-opted by political parties, leaving a vacuum in youth leadership. Young people's marginalization is exacerbated by wide-scale poverty and lack of options that force many into the violent cultures of street gangs.

Ser Paz's strategies are founded on leveraging young people's penchant for creativity and questioning to find alternatives to the pervasive violence. Mediation workshops and community development projects provide young people game-based trainings in state-of-the-art dispute resolution methods and project planning. By ensuring that the workshop brings young people of different backgrounds together to work on action plans to being peace to their respective communities, Ser Paz breaks down traditional barriers, replacing hostility and suspicion with respect and cooperation. To facilitate youths' access to the national forum, Ser Paz is planning a national Youth Congress. It has also launched a news network bringing together students and young journalists. Ser Paz is lobbying with the military conscription department to have its program offered as an alternative to armed service - a strategy that would bring in many new volunteers and introduce alternative conflict resolution methods into a sector that could benefit from them.


Project Leader: Lesley Ann van Selm
Organization: Khulisa ("to nuture" in Nguni)
Country: South Africa
Target group: Juvenile offenders
Principle: Developing self-awareness and interconnectedness
Factor: Otherness
Links:
http://www.khulisaservices.co.za

Lesley Ann van Selm is decreasing the risk of recidivism among juvenile prisoners in South Africa by reintegrating them into society. By raising the emotional intelligence of the young inmates on the one hand, and by creating support and employment networks for them upon their release on the other, she helps both the community and the young offenders break away from the cycle of mutual suspicion, hostility, and rejection.

In South Africa the rate of recidivism is exceptionally high, reaching 80 percent within six months of leaving prison. Upon their release ex-convicts face familial and societal distrust and find it tough to get employment or lead a meaningful community life. Ironically, it is their prison gangs who accord them the security they desire, and it is prison life - complete with three meals a day—that seems safer than the outside world. Inevitably, these young people fall into a pattern of criminal activity.

Van Selm reintegrates offenders into society by simultaneously bringing the community into the prison and the prison into the community. She uses values-based storytelling and the performing arts as a lead-in to life skills activities geared at restoring the young people's self-respect and sense of responsibility. Self-study modules are facilitated by group discussions. Inculcating a sense of community in the prisoners is a strong component of her program.

To motivate the community to take responsibility for their young offenders, van Selm engages ex-offenders in setting up entrepreneurial initiatives that employ newly released prisoners. Ex-offenders also spread the message of their employability and trustworthiness through meetings with the general public and with the corporate sector in particular. The entrepreneurial success of the ex-offenders and the life stories of these young people have made a huge impression on citizens and corporations alike who today support van Selm's initiative.


Project Leader: Susheela Bhan
Organization: Institute of Peace Research and Action
Country: India
Principle: Developing self-awareness and interconnectedness
Factor: Otherness

Susheela Bhan's Institute of Peace Research and Action (IPRA) is working through government schools in India's war-ravaged Kashmir state to forge a nonviolent identity for citizens, one based on common secular and pluralistic traditions. Through a program founded on strategic use of Kashmiri culture and identity and imparted through a practical and evolving curriculum, IPRA is equipping students and teachers with the new attitudes, moral courage, knowledge, and skills they need to become agents for positive change.

Kashmir has been at the center of territorial disputes between India and Pakistan since 1947, but the late1980s witnessed unparalleled savagery, with students bearing the brunt. Apart from regular exposure to the horrors of random brutality and bloodshed, government upper-school students were targeted for recruitment by armed groups. Adrift in a society unmoored from sound values, the students were ideal prey for militants. In addition, as government schools were perverted from havens of learning to centers of militancy, the Kashmiri cultural identity was profoundly distorted. Its fundamental, ancient ethos of humaneness, blending the teachings of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sufism, was replaced with a culture of intolerance, mistrust, and aggression. With the easing of violence at the end of the 1990s, school buildings were rebuilt, but they remained hollow institutions, with their students confused and angry and their teachers lacking confidence in themselves and their profession.

IPRA's Cultural Renewal of Kashmiri Youth program aims at guiding government school teachers and students in rebuilding society with four core values: democracy, secularism, social justice, and human rights. The aim: incremental growth in democratic values in private and public spaces. Integrated into the school day, the program is organized through clubs comprising students and teachers in the coordinating roles. Teachers are given special trainings both in using culture as an instrument of change and in the program, which is constantly fine-tuned on the basis of teachers' evaluations.

The IPRA program is now going beyond school walls. Participants have established neighborhood groups; others who have gone to university have started replicating the work there. The program has started vocational training for graduating students so that changing attitudes are matched with marketable skills. Thus, a whole generation is being motivated and equipped to assume the moral leadership of a new era of peace.


Project Leader: João Marcos Aurore Romão
Organization: SOS Racism
Country: Brazil
Principle: Revealing common ideals, principles, and language
Factor: Otherness

João Marcos Aurore Romão is mobilizing Brazilians to overcome common prejudices -- such as caste, class, ethnicity, education - in order to stamp out violence arising out of such intolerance.

Even though the concept of racial equality is deeply rooted in Brazilian society, violence based on discrimination touched a new high as a dramatic consequence of the economic crisis that hit the country in the 1980s. Race and gender inequality reared its ugly head and jobs went to those in the privileged class who were not necessarily the best qualified.

Romão's response to the ensuing mayhem was to spawn multiracial self-help groups to defend human rights and promote racial equality. The idea behind the effort was to demonstrate how people of different ethnicities and social class can successfully live and work together for a common goal. His strategy is simple. Through his organization SOS Racism, he works on concrete cases of people affected by human rights violations. These people, in turn, "give back" to the organization by getting involved in changing people's mindsets through courses, seminars, and popular media campaigns. The result: today, Brazil has a strong, active antiracial and anticlass movement run by neighborhood associations that boast of multiethnic members.


Project Leader: Sofyan Tan
Organization: Yayasan Sultan Iskandar Muda
Country: Indonesia
Target group: Conflict resolution
Principle: Revealing common ideals, principles, and language
Factor: Otherness
Links:
http://www.changemakers.net/journal/99december/suanda.cfm

Sofyan Tan is attacking one of Indonesia's most corrosive problems, the deep chasm of mutual incomprehension and disrespect that often acts as the trigger for ethnic violence between indigenous Indonesians — the majority population — and those of Chinese descent.

The island country of Indonesia includes a rich mixture of ethnic, racial, and religious groups brought together by their struggle to gain independence from their Dutch colonists and Japanese occupation. Although the national motto is "Unity in Diversity," the frequency of violent ethnic and religious conflicts suggests that the country has yet to embrace a pluralistic society. This is fueled by restrictions placed on the Chinese community that prohibits them from entering the military and civil services.

Dr. Sofyan's model of integrated education brings together ethnic groups that have been in conflict for generations. These "integrated" schools take in an equal proportion of Chinese and non-Chinese children and provide high quality education with an explicit focus on integration. Group activities and goal-oriented teamwork subtly influence the students' thinking and ability to learn to recognize each other as individuals and to bear mutual respect for others. The idea is that children who grow up tolerant and respecting differences and who are open and empathetic in their attitude will teach the next generation the same lessons of inclusion.


Project Leader: Charles Maisel
Organization: 5 in 6
Country: South Africa
Principle: Revealing common ideals, principles, and language
Factor: Otherness
Links:
http://www.preventioninstitute.org/pdf/South_Africa.pdf, http://www.changemakers.net/journal/01november/jaffer.cfm

In a nation that has the highest rate of violence against women of any country not at war, Charles Maisel is providing South African men with the techniques for preventing aggressive behavior. He is changing the attitudes and behavior of men by enrolling those who are against abuse in a movement that vigorously opposes domestic violence. The long-term goal is to advance human rights in poor and disadvantaged communities by significantly reducing violence in South African society in general.

Data show that a quarter of men in South Africa abuse their wives, and institutionalized violence has deeply scarred the nation. With state machinery failing to address the problem, it has been the women themselves who have worked against violence.

According to a survey conducted by Maisel on domestic violence in SA townships, five out of every six men were perceived as being "good" men by their womenfolk. Thus was born the "5 in 6" program that engaged adult men to serve as positive role models for the younger generation. The method focuses on prevention and puts men in major roles, while also engaging women.

Through the women, the project identifies "positive," nonviolent men, works with them to enhance their good qualities and values, and together, they find ways to support women. The premise is that these men have a responsibility to act against, and prevent, violence in their communities. Elements of the program include workshops, rolling mass action, and the Everyday Heroes Campaign, that is, the 5-out-of-every-6 "good" men.

At the same time, women participate in savings programs that help them become financially independent from men and more in control of their lives. Savings are used as a glue to build a social movement, while simultaneously generating financial resources. Bottom line: it is possible to galvanize the collective power of human and financial resources to bring about lasting social change anywhere in the world.


Project Leader: Helena Balabánová
Organization: Církevní Skola Pøemysla Pittra
Country: The Czech Republic
Principle: Building ability to care, uphold values, and make principled decisions
Factor: Otherness
Links:
http://csmonitor.com/2001/0918/p18s1-lekt.html

Helena Balabánová has designed an education model for Roma children and adults that positively impacts race relations in the Czech Republic by reinforcing the values of an integrated and diverse society. For the Roma to emerge from their severely marginalized status, Balabánová is constructing bridges between them and non-Roma through effective education and related social services that help parents, students, and teachers.

The rights of the Roma are regularly violated across Eastern and Central Europe but in the Czech Republic, their situation is especially critical. Though they are the largest ethnic minority in the country, pervasive marginalization and persistent racism make them a disenfranchised group, living "ghetto" existences. A key reason behind the Roma inability to organize themselves effectively to fight for their rights has been their lack of education, which is a direct outcome of the Czech education system's failure to be responsive to Roma culture and needs. The Roma find state schools impersonal and culturally insensitive; teachers label Roma children mentally retarded and hostile and dump them into schools for the mentally challenged. The end result: high dropout rates and an education system that undermines democracy.

Balabánová's approach is aimed at promoting multicultural values, and thus democracy, in the classroom and community. In predominantly Roma schools, she has expanded the curriculum to include Roma history, music, and culture and developed relevant textbooks and teaching materials. She has introduced the concept of Roma teaching assistants for the non-Roma class teachers. They play a mentoring role for children and become an effective communication channel between parents and school staff. Outside school environs, the Information and Education Centers target the entire community, providing capacity building services like job counseling and training and high school equivalency certification that enable the Roma to join the mainstream. Regular cultural programs educate Roma and non-Roma to recognize, respect, and give positive public visibility to gypsy culture.

Balabánová's Romanology course is now part of the teacher training curriculum at Prague's premiere Charles University, and the education ministry has agreed to implement her program in elementary schools nationally.


Project Leader: Ricardo Hernández Arellano
Organization: Alliance of Civic Organizations for Democracy
Country: Mexico
Principle: Building ability to care, uphold values, and make principled decisions
Factor: Otherness

Ricardo Hernández Arellano's Alliance of Civic Organizations for Democracy is erasing the pervasive culture of conflict in Mexico by equipping indigenous and other communities with the ability to develop their own peaceful solutions to social conflicts. By reorienting a strife-torn society into the values of reconciliation, dialogue, and respect for differences, the alliance is establishing enduring communal harmony in multicultural Mexico.

Mexico's ethnically diverse society has a long history of communal conflicts. The persistence of these hostilities stems from the fact that problems are not solved definitively, but are left instead to fester. Violence is used both as a response and a solution to conflict, putting in motion an endlessly repeating cycle of hostile action and reaction. Even the government opts for force as a solution, putting down opposition, conflicts, and social unrest with brutal acts of state-endorsed violence.

The alliance's approach is based on a multidisciplinary understanding of opposing views. A two-part strategy is employed: first, gain a deep understanding of opposing views; and second, provide this information, together with conflict resolution techniques, to the groups and communities involved so that they can resolve their differences and live in harmony. The conflict resolution techniques, composed of management and problem-solving know-how, draw on successful conflict resolution experiences of indigenous peoples.

The alliance works in several states in Mexico, spreading its work through workshops for local, regional, and national citizen groups. In addition, it collaborates not only with civil and religious organizations but also with government agencies working on human rights, children's issues, indigenous problems, and student rights. The alliance's efforts are creating an ever-expanding national network of peace promoters committed to establishing and defending peace in Mexico. To spread its model internationally, the alliance is reaching out to like-minded partners in England, Spain, the United States, and Central and South America.


Project Leader: Magdaleno Rose-Avila
Organization: Homies Unidos (Homeboys United)
Country: El Salvador
Target group: Street Children
Principle: Enabling self-change
Factor: Otherness
Links:
http://www.homiesunidos.org/, http://www.fhi.org/en/Youth/YouthNet/Publications/FOCUS/ProjectHighlights/homiesunidoselsalvador.htm

Magdaleno Rose-Avila's Homies Unidos is fighting the gang violence ravaging El Salvador by enlisting gang members themselves to lead and shape the battle to establish peace in the country. Appreciating the fact that gangs fulfill the need in its members to "belong," Rose-Avila has chosen a unique route: his is a gang-led grassroots movement that attempts to transform gangs into entities that build civil society, rather than destroy it.

Despite the 1992 Peace Accord, wide-scale poverty and lack of income-earning opportunities plague El Salvador. Salvadoran youth, traumatized by years of war and social polarization, find few legitimate earning options or understanding of their situation within society. They are driven to join gangs, which offer a sense of belonging and security. A survey by Rose-Avila revealed that 85 percent of gang members wanted to abandon their dangerous lifestyle?peppered by drug dealing, gang warfare, and murder—but saw no alternative.

Rejecting the common approach of "rehabilitating" the youth through state-imposed services, Homies Unidos guides the antisocial young to design their own response to the challenge of breaking away from violent lifestyles and developing constructive social and economic alternatives. The idea is to work within the existing structure of gangs and capitalize on the feeling of community among members.

A core, founding group of gang members who had renounced violence and were committed to helping others do the same were enlisted. These peer educators, trained in nonviolent conflict resolution, peer counseling, and personal motivation, build training teams to spread the work across the country and help gang members work out their own solutions to make the transition from violence to peace. Homies Unidos is creating employment and income opportunities for gang members who previously saw violence as their only skill and theft as their only source of income.

Contacts in the business world are actively cultivated to identify livelihood opportunities. The media have been energetically brought on board to provide positive publicity. Homies Unidos persistently networks with police, municipal offices, and schools to position itself as partner, offering their services in bringing about peaceful resolution to gang-related issues.

Homies Unidos has spread its efforts to Los Angeles and other U.S. cities and is preparing to work with gangs in neighboring Central American countries.


Project Leader: Suwarni Agnesti Rahayu (Yayuk)
Organization: Rifka Annisa (Women's Friend) Women's Crisis Center
Country: Indonesia
Principle: Developing self-awareness and interconnectedness
Factor: Value extremism
Links:
http://www.rifka-annisa.or.id/

In Indonesia Suwarni Agnesti Rahayu's organization Rifka Annisa is combating violence against women by using a culturally acceptable approach rooted in religious tenets and beliefs. By drawing on Islamic teachings that make a case against the subjugation of women, Rifka Annisa has successfully co-opted the powerful sociocultural influence of Islam in this predominantly Muslim country and is managing to improve both the status of women and gender relations.

Indonesian society consigns women to a lowly, subjugated status. In this patriarchal environment men have unquestionable authority over women. The common interpretation of Islamic teaching reinforces this attitude: women "belong" to their husbands who can treat them as they please. Women internalize these values and suffer from low self-esteem. Unsurprisingly, in such a social climate abuse of women is egregious and domestic violence a common, unremarked phenomenon.

Rifka Annisa's solution is based on demonstrating that abuse of women violates Islamic tenets and thus cannot be endorsed or practiced by Muslims. It draws on the Qur'an for substantial, unequivocal textual support for this argument. To add credibility to its work, Rifka Annisa collaborates with male religious interpreters (munafsirs). The organization holds counseling sessions for women (and their husbands, if willing) and public discussions and lectures centered on the status of women. At all such sessions the underlying approach is identical: use the religious perspective to demonstrate that Islam demands respect for women.

For women victims who come for counseling, the religious approach is a familiar and comfortable route for discussing their problem and examining their position. Rifka Annisa provides them with the alternatives they may be seeking, including divorce or reconciliation, and helps them work out their own solutions.

By interpreting how Islam empowers women and by spreading that knowledge to individuals and the public, Rifka Annisa is making Indonesian society a more equitable one for the long-term.


Project Leader: Eboo Patel
Organization: Interfaith Youth Core
Country: U.S.A.
Target group: Ethnic minorities, teachers, academics
Principle: Revealing common ideals, principles, and language
Factor: Value extremism
Links:
http://www.ifyc.org

In the U.S., Dr Ebrahim "Eboo" Patel is engaging young people from different religions around interfaith community service. His work aligns the deeply held principles and shared values of public service, religious freedom, and pluralism to enrich society and reduce the ignorance that has made religiously motivated attacks the second-most common form of hate crime.

Since September 11, felonies motivated by religious bias have risen by 19 percent of all reported incidents in the U.S., with Sikhs and anyone else who "looked Muslim" being in danger of violent attack. Long before these attacks, Patel recognized that citizens had little appreciation of the merits of any other religion but their own, in spite of living in a multicultural, multiracial society. He also recognized the precedent set by communities at the height of the racial conflict of the civil rights era, when those that had managed to build strong relationships across the lines of diversity were less prone to collapse during times of public stress.

His organization, Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), is the first to use a service learning methodology to engage young people from different religions in community service that teaches them to live in understanding and cooperation with others. IFYC highlights the shared values between different faith communities and invites members to focus on what religions have in common by articulating how their religions "speak to" those shared values. Members also work together on public action projects - building housing, cleaning rivers - that put these values into practice.

IFYC's local and national-level youth programs and activities involve thousands of young people in outreach, education, and service projects in partnership with their congregations and faith communities. College students are encouraged to act as mentors and facilitators on their own campuses. IFYC is reaching out internationally as well, to interfaith projects in South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.


Project Leader: Andreas D'Souza
Organization: Henry Martyn Institute
Country: India
Target group: Communities / Residents
Principle: Building ability to care, uphold values, and make principled decisions
Factor: Value extremism
Links:
http://www.hmiindi.com

Father Andreas D'Souza is demonstrating methods to enable a national movement of organized grassroots reconciliation between India's religions — especially Hinduism and Islam — to take hold.

India's independence was scarred by a cataclysm of religious hatred, killing, and the two-way flight of millions of refugees. Periodically, this fever recurs on a large scale, most recently in 2004 in Godhra, Gujarat state. Each eruption destroys countless lives, deepens hatred, and further tears at the social fabric of the country.

D'Souza's program is designed to build community-level antidotes to such contagions when they sweep across the country. Neighborhood youth leaders are invited to a joint training in which they learn to spot and shoot down inflammatory rumors before they can cause further damage. Beyond tactics teaching, leaders of different faiths study different religions, distill the values in each, and learn to respect the tenets of every religion. Stereotypes, bigotry, and suspicion are tackled head on, and the common sources of misunderstanding put into perspective for the leaders.

D'Souza is aware that antidotes are not enough and that effective prevention is vitally important. Recognizing that most people want an end to community strife and are looking for their role in accomplishing this, he engages citizens in community development projects, from improving housing to cleaning drains to training youths in marketable skills. Interfaith dialogue is promoted through these initiatives. As local leaders succeed together on these projects, they are building the trust that will later help them deal with crisis.


Project Leader: Ashraf Patel
Organization: Pravah
Country: India
Target group: Children and youth
Principle: Developing self-awareness and interconnectedness
Factor: Individualism
Links:
http://www.younginfluencers.com/

Ashraf Patel's Pravah is planting the seeds for a more peaceful, bias-free society by inculcating the value of empathy in young Indians and helping them develop emotional skills that encourage respect for others. Through a multifaceted curriculum for colleges and schools, Pravah guides young people through a process that takes them from "me to we." Starting with exploring and analyzing their own identity, they gradually develop a finely tuned ability to understand the emotions and viewpoints of others.

In India learning institutions have done little to provide an intellectual and values framework to help students cope with the country's myriad tensions arising from cultural and socially divisive factors. A rigid syllabus fails to nurture critical thinking or leadership ; nor does it encourage an open mind to alternatives. Oblivious to others' realities and lacking skills to relate to the Other, children grow up unquestioningly internalizing the stereotypes that their parents and society feed them, thereby perpetuating the social divides that stoke the potential for conflict.

Pravah targets youth in different age groups through multiple programs. At the core is the "Me to We" school program designed for 9- to 14-year-olds. The main objective: busting myths and stereotypes and helping children to understand issues and make conscious choices. Through role-playing exercises, simulation games, and behavioral exercises kids are enabled to identify their values and understand themselves and their reactions to others. They are encouraged to relate to and apply their experience to real-life situations by participating in social action, theatre, music, and creative writing. Similar methods characterize the Students Mobilization Initiative for Learning through Exposure (SMILE) program designed for college kids and aimed at nurturing empathy and inculcating a spirit of social service.

Pravah also organizes weeklong exposure trips for urban school children to rural areas to encourage their appreciation of diversity through real-life experience. The Youth Bank stimulates social action among young people by giving a small fund to a group of youth and helping them develop and execute a development initiative. Another program, Making Changemakers, equips educational professionals—including teachers and CSO staff—with the skills they need to design and deliver citizenship education curricula to young people.


Project Leader: Mahmood Fadal
Organization: Mediation and Conciliation Centre
Country: South Africa
Target group: Small and informal businesses
Principle: Revealing common ideals, principles, and language
Factor: Individualism

Trade union leader Mahmood Fadal's Mediation and Conciliation Centre is transforming South Africa's informal and small businesses sector from a violent battlefield to an equal-opportunity, growth-promoting environment. Its business plans—founded on cooperation, conflict resolution, and human rights—have replaced the existing survival-at-any-cost operating strategies. By highlighting the commonality of situations and goals and the power of collaboration in achieving these ends, the center is altering the dynamics of this sector, causing it to change course from a self-destructive path to that of economic and social progress.

The lifting of economic apartheid in the small business sector in the 1980s triggered an explosion of informal business activity among black South Africans. The numbers entering the sector as street vendors, cab drivers, and other small business and service providers have continued to climb while resources and services remain limited. The absence of credible commercial standards, ineffective law enforcement, and lack of access to conflict-resolution mechanisms has left disputants with few nonviolent options.

The center's approach is designed to demonstrate that mediation and legal and human rights education offer compelling, practical alternatives to violence as a method of conflict resolution. Training is provided both in using relevant laws and institutions like the Labour Relations Act and mediation agencies and in negotiating with various government bodies. Mediation services involve participants in debate and role-playing to help them identify common goals, diagnose causes of conflict, and find lasting solutions to deeply rooted problems. Participants are stimulated to design institutional mechanisms that address the underlying causes of conflict and to unionize into worker collectives committed to cooperation. The center's substantial bank of resource material and experience lends considerable support to these efforts.

The center markets its services through joint ventures with civic, legal aid, and worker organizations. It has also connected with national organizations like the South African National Civic Association.


Project Leader: Myrna Wajsman Lewis
Organization: Dharma Partners
Country: South Africa
Principle: Building ability to care, uphold values, and make principled decisions
Factor: Individualism

Myrna Wajsman Lewis has developed a new model through which the decision-making process of "deep democracy"—a concept in process-oriented psychology—is made accessible to all citizens. The concept, introduced into public school curricula, enables learners to gain experience in decision-making and group dynamics, while also reducing the rampant prejudice-driven conflict among South Africans. The idea is for people to recognize and appreciate other viewpoints and acknowledge the deeper issues and subtleties when faced with difficult choices.

In post-apartheid South Africa schools are obliged to enroll pupils regardless of race, culture, or ethnicity. Though the new curriculum advocates human rights and mutual respect and the need for life skills, these values and skills are alien for a fledgling democracy burdened by a violent past based on discrimination. Classroom integration, the adoption of the new education system, and civil unrest have often led to intense conflict among students, teachers, and administrators.

Deep Democracy is a psychological concept based on the inherent flaw of traditional majority democracy that allows 51 percent of any population to make decisions for the other 49 percent. It recognizes the wisdom of all viewpoints and fosters the "buy in" to decisions. Responsive to the reality that any decision-making process is at the mercy of deeper, often unstated, views or emotions, and that progress is often liable to be sabotaged by the minority, Lewis's model incorporates conflict resolution and facilitation skills in response to this tendency.

The model is designed for the use of teachers and students to address the unconscious forces and stereotypes that inform or bias decision-making. The technique shows all parties in school how to deal with those feelings in a way that promotes, rather than paralyzes, the decision-making process. Lewis conducts training with a select group of students and teachers who later facilitate the process in classrooms.


Project Leader: Chibuzo Ekwekwuo
Organization: Public & Private Rights Watch
Country: Nigeria
Principle: Enabling self-change
Factor: Individualism

Advocate Chibuzo Ekwekwuo is combating government corruption in Nigeria by creating a citizenry morally and practically empowered to root out unethical and illegal personnel and practices. Refusing to accept the premise that citizens are victims of those in power, Ekwekwuo is convinced that bad leadership is an effect of poor "follower-ship." He places responsibility of good governance squarely on the people, and his initiative is enabling Nigerians to become active, ethical participants in the democratic process, motivated and capable of saying "no" to corruption.

Nigeria is a chart-buster among corrupt countries. The rot begins at the top with governance characterized by absence of accountability and funds misappropriation. It is a system oiled by kickbacks and graft, fuelled by favors and sycophancy, designed to promote inequities and misutilized resources. The electoral process stands discredited, the judiciary compromised. The populace bears the brunt of this endemic corruption. Yet, by abdicating their responsibility to demand accountability and collectively struggle for change, citizens merely feed this corrupt system and collude in their own disempowerment. A generation is growing up unaware of alternative ways of governance and the tremendous possibilities of democracy.

Ekwekwuo employs a multipronged approach to re-institute Nigeria's moral compass and orient citizens to democratic principles and processes. Realizing that practical demonstration is the most effective argument, he leads by example through high-profile class action suits challenging corrupt actions of the government. With his credibility and mission established, he is now making democracy the subject of public debate by running local language radio shows on good governance issues, specifically on citizen's rights and responsibilities. He backs this up with action-plans that prove the tangible results of democracy at work.

Ekwekwuo has developed a citizenship curriculum for communities including training in advocacy and collective bargaining using constitutional channels, electoral practices, and effective pre-election activities. He is also engaging Generation Next through regular inter-school debate competitions focused on democracy.

Prizes

Total value:
15 000
Changemakers will give an award of $5,000 to the top three entries.

Entries