Dr. Femi Shodipo
Since 2004 Peace Initiative Network (PIN) has been facilitating community cohesion, bridging ethno-religious divides and help young people find work that is directly impacting in the lives of over 2,066 young people in Kano Nigeria.
PIN work closely with community and religious leaders, local organizations, clubs and government agencies to identify most at risk of joining extremist groups. Factors such as involvement in violence and theft, drug abuse or gangs are considered as well as working on engaging those who are hard to reach.
The young trainees receive training from the best local tradesmen, learning skills ranging from soap making to tailoring. Trainees attend the center once per week for six months.
Once trained, these young people and women receive business starter kits made up of tools or material to help them start their own businesses. PIN provides regular follow up support to ensure these young people are thriving.
One of the best ways to build understanding between rival religions and ethnic groups is through sport.
Every day in Kano, football teams of young men gather at makeshift football pitches to train alongside individuals from different religious and ethnic groups. The focus here, is on learning to deal with problems in a positive way, and how to address anger through non-violent means.
The sessions are an important lesson in leadership, development and discipline for young people who face a future with limited opportunities.
The matches draw a big crowd and are often a focal point of the community. At every session PIN staff give a talk about peacebuilding and community issues, ensuring that any issues raised are dealt with in a safe environment so that tensions will not spill into violence.
To support the work with sports and skills training, PIN also runs peace clubs for young people aged 10-25. These draw youth from all different religions and backgrounds to discuss the violence that affects them and their country. Young people learn to work together and gain leadership and teamwork skills that helps build their futures as critical and engaged young people.
Recently, the young participants went on to promote peace to their peers and communities, and over the year mobilised 500 students to take part in ‘Peace Rallies’, where students marched around major streets and strategic locations in Kano and Jos to raise awareness among communities on the need for peaceful coexistence among communities ahead of the 2019 elections.