Where We Work: Asia and Oceania
Peace First’s work in Asia began in 2018 when a group of young social change leaders in Nepal reached out for support with their work for democracy and educational equity. Since then, we’ve supported a rapidly growing base of young leaders across Asia and Oceania, with a large concentration of young leaders in South Asia, particularly India and Nepal. Our support has helped young people create integration and mental health support programs for refugees, take action for sustainability and stronger climate policy and mount major education reforms in collaboration with national governments. Our team in Asia has particularly focused on reaching young people in rural regions, running Peace First Lab tours in outlying communities to engage and support young people often not served by social change programs.
When the Covid-19 Pandemic hit, Mukshadur moved back to his hometown in Bangladesh to stay with his family while continuing to attend his college classes remotely. Upon his return, he realized that young children in his community were deprived of the ability to continue their education remotely because of lack of access to the internet. He worried that because they’ve been isolated due to quarantine restrictions, the children would not only struggle academically, but that their mental health would also suffer.
Marwah began her changemaking journey volunteering at an event serving children with disabilities. She recalls finding joy being among children and feeling inspired by their tenacity and their commitment to work towards their dreams despite belonging to a vulnerable group. Her volunteer experience sparked a passion for working with young children - a passion that guided her career choices moving forward. At her position as a manager in her university’s Future Leaders chapter, in Malang, Indonesia, she grew to love project management and design thinking and focused those skills to designing projects to respond to the pressing need to provide quality education to children in rural areas.
Ramni remembers having panic attacks before her exams. Even as a little girl, she recalls overwhelming bouts of anxiety and stress due to the pressures of life and school. This inspired her to pursue a career in science to better understand how stress and anxiety can impact people and learn about ways to address it. The more Ramni learned about stress, anxiety and panic attacks, the more she realized her experiences as a young person were not unique. She realized that many young people, especially those in her community shared the same struggles.
Fellow in Residence & Regional Manager
Sushmina Baidya is a nonprofit leader and youth movement builder, who comes to Peace First from leading ‘We’ For Change, the largest youth-led nonprofit in Nepal. Under Sushmina’s leadership, ‘We’ For Change has grown to a dedicated base of over 200 volunteers leading 50 programs and initiatives designed to advocate for issues important to young people and improve conditions for youth throughout Nepal, including leading free HIV testing campaigns and distributing over 10,000 condoms across Nepal, providing ‘School on Wheels’ to over 12,000 children whose schools were damaged by recent earthquakes, and leading multiple sustainability and climate change advocacy campaigns. In 2018, with a grant from Peace First, Sushmina and ‘We’ For Change led a 2-day intensive Peace Jamboree, using sport to spark conversations about government accountability and peacebuilding, bringing together dozens of young people from Kathmandu and Saptari. Sushmina has traveled the world to speak about her work with We for Change, including at the MISK Global Forum and World Government Summit. Sushmina -- whose activism began at 14 when she led school-wide protests against unjust academic tracking policies -- is excited to build a movement of young people building peace across Asia and Oceania.