Religions for Peace Announces 2019 Awardees of Innovative Youth Prize

Religions for Peace is pleased to announce the recipients for the 2019 RfP Innovative Youth Prize. Interfaith youth groups from Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Indonesia have been awarded prizes up to $5,000 USD to creatively engage young leaders and strengthen collaboration among their diverse religious traditions to overcome violent religious extremism, welcome refugees and migrants, and protect the earth.

The Sacred Heart Youth group from Kenya, under the category of Overcoming Violent Religious Extremism, empowers youth through interfaith collaboration and deepens their appreciation of the cultural and religious heritage of the Moyale Sub County region in Kenya. This youth organization will develop counter-narratives to negative stereotypes of marginalized communities through drama and traditional dance. This project will also create an art and cultural centre as a safe space for artists and audience to jointly explore and develop their shared identities. These consultative meetings on violence prevention will enhance trust among local youth and local authorities, enhancing youth involvement in countering violent extremism.

Religions for Peace South Africa, under the category of Protecting the Earth, recently created the Religions for Peace Interfaith Youth Climate Forum whose main focus is the promotion of the youth-led environmental campaign “Our Earth, Our Responsibility” through education, engagement and advocacy. The forum will support several projects throughout the year to educate school kids with ethical environmental education. The projects include the planting of indigenous trees at schools, churches, mosques and temples; Tours of school and places of faith to discuss the ways in which spirituality can be used to inspire inter-faith action against climate change; A climate expo to promote healthy and sustainable living, with talks, presentations, engaging earth meditations, music and poetry; An empowerment workshop on climate change that educate people on plastic usage; and a media activism workshop on climate change, where participants will brainstorm media content on combating climate change in their daily life.

The Uganda Interfaith Youth Network, under the category Welcoming Refugees and Migrants; Protecting the Earth, intends to build bridges among the Congolese refugee youth and the host community youth in the Rwamwanja Refugee settlement in Western Uganda by fostering tolerance, peace and environmental stewardship. The project will mobilize and train youth from refugee and host communities in conflict transformation; engage faith leaders in the refugee communities that will be actively involved in promoting environmentally-sound practices; engage youth for the planting of 800 trees; and implement fuel-saving stoves as a mechanism for environmental protection. Since the Rwamwanja Refugee camp was re-opened in 2012 to receive the new wave of Congolese refugees, the communities that had previously flourished in it were displaced, creating as a consequence tensions between the old and the new residents of the camp. This initiative intents to enhance the relationship, and lessen the tension, among the affected parties of this living arrangement by fostering intra-communal collaboration.

The Jalin Harmoni and The Institute of Interfaith Dialogue in Indonesia (Interfidei), under the category of Overcoming Violent Religious Extremism, are strengthening the capacity of interfaith youth networks in Makassar, South Sulawesi. The project will organize an Interfaith Youth Capacity Building Training where 30 individuals, students and activists of religious and civic organizations, as well as distinct inter-faith and inter-ethnic groups, will reunite to work together on extremism in their respective communities. The first part of the training will consist of story-telling, cultural awareness seminars, and prejudice reduction and dialogue workshops. The second part will consist of network building, which includes teaching peace building strategies and responsible social media usage.

This year’s Innovative Youth Prize projects demonstrate the worldwide commitment and dedication that youth have towards creating a peaceful, common future in their communities. The projects selected here represent the legacy of ingenuity demonstrated by the members of the RfP Global Interfaith Youth Network (GIYN), who have consistently generated dynamic interfaith actions within their communities and throughout the globe. The entire RfP GIYN will continue to work alongside the prize recipients to maintain its devotion to Overcoming Violent Religious Extremism, Welcoming Refugees and Migrants, and Protecting the Earth.

Religions for Peace is proud to offer its congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 Innovative Youth Prize and encourages all members of the RfP GIYN to apply for future funding opportunities.

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