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Mindanawans off to New Zealand for leadership development, peace program

DAVAO CITY—Eight young leaders from Mindanao have been selected to participate in a four-month leadership program in New Zealand.

The selected participants came from the cities of Marawi, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and Kidapawan, Esperanza in Agusan del Sur, and Bongao in Tawi-Tawi.

They would be feted to a send-off program here on Monday before going to Wellington, the capital, to take part in the Mindanao Young Leaders Programme (MinYLP), New Zealand Ambassador HE David Strachan said.

MinYLP is a four-month “bespoke leadership program  supported by the New Zealand government and managed by UnionAID in collaboration with International Alert Philippines and Victoria University of Wellington,” the International Alert Philippines said in an Internet posting on Thursday.

“It aims to enhance the knowledge, skills and confidence of young community leaders from Mindanao to actively participate in the sustainable peaceful development of their communities by exposing them to new ideas and institutions in New Zealand, inspiring them to think critically about what they can apply in their own communities, developing the participants’ research, evaluation, presentation, communication and analytical skills,” the statement said.

The International Alert Philippines said the program would be important “in the fragile peace situation in Mindanao because it harnesses young people’s energies and dynamism to create change in their communities.”

“While a new Bangsamoro is viewed as the key to securing lasting peace and development in Mindanao, the transition is fraught with risks that may create new cycles of violence borne from exclusion and betrayed expectations,” it added.

The group said the input and experiences that the scholars gain in-country and in New Zealand would strengthen their participation in addressing issues faced by their sector, “especially those vulnerable to the influence of violent threat groups.”

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