On the road with Peace First changemakers
Accelerator Event, United Kingdom
I felt quite rusty getting on a plane last month to head to London and then on to Uganda to visit our teams and young innovators. This was my first work trip in over two years and I was beyond eager to see the impact of Peace First that just can't be captured via text or on screens. Tatiana, our UK/Europe leader, hosted several amazing young people sharing their work tackling everything from LGBTQ+ safe spaces to rewriting narratives of Black young people. With other guests we huddled in groups, strategizing, sharing, affirming - in short, doing the critical work of supporting young changemakers as they move their ideas forward.
Meet and Greet, Uganda
In Uganda, Aziz introduced me to a broad group of partners he has cultivated who are amplifying the power of Peace First and extending our reach. Over meals, we had a chance to visit with several young people to learn about their projects and the real barriers young people in the region face, including access to resources, uneven infrastructure, and adult gate-keepers that can be dismissive. We also heard compassionate stories of young people turning loss into change, taking risks to get exciting projects off the ground, and the ways young people are uniquely positioned to mobilize others to take action. With such a young population, Uganda is an epicentre of activity for Peace First and it was exciting to feel this energy firsthand. From Walter's sewing machines creating menstrual pads so girls can attend school to Gerald's efforts to reimagine farming among his generation, this spirit of community-minded innovation was everywhere.
I didn't realize how much I needed this experience. As an exiting CEO, my past few months have been filled with the internal work of transition management, staff supervision, and leadership search. This work has been enjoyable and meaningful, but for me, nothing compares with listening to young people think through their projects, share their change-making journeys, and to affirm their visions. Sharing meals, car rides, and brainstorming sessions was beyond inspiring. It affirmed the timeless truth that sits at the heart of Peace First: young people are powerful drivers of positive change and with the right support, resources, and care this opportunity can be expanded and accelerated. This small slice I was lucky to see is part of the global explosion of Peace First that has taken place over the past three years. Driven by our Fellows, nurtured by a digital platform, and powered by young people's daily acts of vision and courage this is just the beginning. I cannot wait to see what happens next.