VISITORS. (L-R) Marjan Stoffers and Ton Groeneweg of Mensen in an exchange with KFI’s administrative officer Omar Juanday in North Binangga, Talayan.
Two top officials of Mensen met een Missie, the Netherlands-based funding agency of one of KFI’s community-based peacebuilding projects, visited the project site in North Binangga, Municipality of Talayan, Maguindanao on February 18.
Ton Groeneweg and Marjan Stoffers, Head of the agency’s Asia and of Program Department respectively, represented Mensen to assess the project’s third year of implementation and to validate its 2013 annual report.
The project “Enhancing Community Participation in Peacebuilding” has its goal the building of peaceful communities by empowering people at the grassroots level to participate in conflict transformation.
The project encompasses four adjacent barangays of Talayan such as Katibpuan, North Binangga, Dimablac and Linamunan. Project officer Norman Abas said their main activities are focused on organizing and mobilization of local peace volunteers, updating on Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) at the grassroots level, monitoring of human rights violations, and formulation of community-based peacebuilding plan.
Security measures for the visitors were given significant consideration beforehand by leg-working and proper protocol with the local authorities and community leaders. Together with the Tiyakap Kalilintad (Care for Peace) volunteers and members, KFI Admin Officer Omar Juanday and barangay local officials, the conduct of focus group discussion (FGD) and one-on-one interviews with the partner-beneficiaries have been successfully facilitated.
During the FGD, the role of organized peace group (Tiyakap) in promoting peacebuilding advocacies have been highlighted with the peace volunteers’ sharing of their personal experiences in mediating in or resolving conflicts. Land grabbing, stealing of domesticated animals and family conflict were just some of the conflicts resolved through their intervention. In a ceremony attended by different local and international stakeholders, the project declared North Binanga and Katibpuan last December 21, 2013 as Darussalam or Zone of Peace.
The community also brought to the attention of the visitors some problems and concerns which they hope the funding agency may support. Nevertheless, Groeneweg told them of Mensen’s limitations in supporting such concerns.
“Though this program may not answer all the problems of the community, looking forward it would be a good start and in the long run, support from other agencies both government and non-government will go through with the stable and positive peace and order situation in the locality”, he said.
The activity ended with a sumptuous lunch prepared by the community. Exchange of thanksgiving also ensued afterwards. Both the visitors and hosts were very positive on the outcome and impact of the project to the community without ignoring some lessons learned in the process and with hope that peace may come very soon.
Reported by: Lo Ivan Castillon