LET me begin by saying, I carry with me the interfaith background and values of my parents that taught me the importance of compassion, love, acceptance, humility and empathy for all regardless of our differences, and the importance of going back to my roots as a Moro, as a Muslim and as a Filipino.
I carry with me sad but blessed memories brought about by Gulf War in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia that left a significant impact in me when I was 7 years old. Then and now, we live in communities where thousands of children are displaced by armed conflict every year in the past 7 years.
We have witnessed children at a very young age being discriminated, recruited and bullied that caused a negative impact in their lives. These challenges continue to inspire me and our organization on the importance of a long-term and consistent strategy in building a Culture of peace starting in the children’s formative years.
In today’s society, a culture of peace should be seen as the core of humanity. In our organization, Teach Peace Build Peace Movement (TPBPM), our mission is to Make Every Filipino Child and Youth a Peace Hero.
In TPBPM, we believe in the power of Peace Education and we have been doing a lot of innovation to teach peace as a lifestyle… we believe in how peace education can contribute to achieving sustainable peace.
We have been helping schools and communities institutionalize Peace Education in creative and innovative ways like Music, Arts, Games, Sports and Community Service.
Our flagship program is called Peace Heroes Formation Program with a goal of creating a Culture of Peace in every school and community.
Receiving this blessing and being welcomed to a new family, which for me is the Almighty’s way of telling us to pursue our mission no matter what it takes, is for every child who fears the sound of war… for every child who fears the feeling of being bullied, judged and unaccepted.
This is for every struggle of a Filipino Child — Muslim, Christian and Indigenous Person whose stories range from experiencing armed conflict, discrimination, unacceptance, neglect and victimized by violent ideologies. This is for every peace education believer, advocate and champion as we dramatically transform the concept of a Culture of Peace as an inherent way of life and as the core of humanity to address the underlying factors of conflict and violence.
I would like to end by giving much emphasis into these words: We have to teach peace to build a culture of peace because it is in building a culture of peace that we can create difference generations of peace heroes.
If we want a peaceful nation, we have to invest in nurturing a culture of peace in the heart of every child. -Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, Mindanews
(The author delivered this during the press conference on the 2019 Towns awardees at Dusit, Makati on October 10, 2019. Bai Rohaniza is one of 12 awardees, and one of two Meranaws to be honored on Oct. 29 at Dusit Makati, she for Education.)