By Lou Ellen L. Antonio

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, May 3 (PIA ICCC) – Through the OURmindaNOW Tech Camp organized by Equal Access International (EAI), thirty-two youth leaders from the different regions in Mindanao have been urged to utilize innovative communications in promoting peace advocacies.

The OURmindaNOW Tech Camp aims to provide awareness and understanding on  peace and security issues in Mindanao and its conflict history, to capacitate and empower the youth with skills in crafting alternative narratives against recruitment methods of violent extremist groups and to build a network of young influencers to implement online campaigns for peace.

Equal Access International Philippines Country Director Atty. Exan Sharief urged the Tech Campers to equip themselves with skills and learning in promoting awareness on positive messaging in their peace advocacies. (Photo by Lou Ellen Antonio/ PIA ICCC)

Equal Access International Philippines Country Director Atty. Exan Sharief urged the Tech Campers to “further equip themselves with skills and learning as they convey awareness on positive messaging and integrate community media solutions in their peace advocacies.”

“I ask the graduates to pay forward the gratitude through modeling norms and behavior using positive deviants and alternative narratives. I urge everyone to co-create exponential impact and support locally-driven initiatives on lasting peace in Mindanao,” he added.

Coming from diverse cultures, the Tech Camp enabled the participants to erase and change their misconceptions, prejudices and stereotypes on different ethnic groups.

Lo Ivan Castillon of Volunteers Initiatives in Bridging and Empowering Society based in Cotabato City said that “cultural tolerance would lead to unity in diversity, and that is peace”.

Meanwhile, Huda A. Aldanie, a Yakan from the Island of Basilan urged her fellow youth to take part in building the future. “Let us all be united in contributing to nation building, as early as possible we should take an action,” she said.

Some OUrmindaNOW Tech Campers listen to the lecture of Joe Bacus, a Kagayanon filmmaker, on how Filmmaking and Videography can be a tool for peace.

Some of the discussions during the Tech Camp centered on History Conflict in Mindanao, Introduction to Empowerment, Understanding Social Media and Social Change, Cybersecurity and Data Protection, Journalism, Digital Storytelling, Photography and Filmmaking, Podcast and Public Speaking.

“The best thing about Tech Camp is that it provides the right opportunity for us to co-create positive change ideas for our community and work with passionate young leaders all over Mindanao,” said Evan Cullen Alcantara of The Millennial Studio PH.

Aside from the Tech Camps, EAI will also conduct Peace Promotion Fellows, Hackathon and Community Forums as part of their initiative to create a messaging hub for Mindanao and to capacitate the youth to amplify alternative narratives. (LEAntonio)