Searching for Peace through a Sip from a Cup

More effective peacebuilding by sharing, learning, and collaborating. #Tea4Peace in Nigeria shows us how.

Abdussamad Ahmad Yusuf was happy to be working on his peacebuilding project, “Better Almajiri,” helping children in Northern Nigeria who are especially vulnerable to radicalization by violent extremist groups. Almajiri are all too common in the region – young boys from poor homes who are typically left in the charge of traditional Islamic schools to beg in the streets, with no access to formal schooling or vocational training.

Through extensive awareness and advocacy campaigns as well as several targeted activities, Abdumassad’s “Better Almajiri” project helps these children improve their chances for a healthy and positive future. The project has been holding basic literacy classes and has enrolled many of the children into mainstream public schools. Furthermore, the project, in partnership with individuals and civic organizations, has been training the boys in hygiene and nutrition and has established a “shoe maintenance platform,” so the boys are learning about the shoeshine business and now have a means of striving for financial independence.

Abdussamad was satisfied with his achievements, but he was left feeling that he could do more. He wanted to take his peacebuilding efforts further, going deeper and having greater impact. He wondered how the other Peace Promotion Fellows (PPFs) were doing—the young people he had met at Equal Access International’s Tech Camp in the capital city of Kano, Nigeria.

After completing the week-long Tech Camp, where they learned how to become effective peace ambassadors in their communities by creating impactful messaging to counter that of violent extremist groups and amplifying their voices using traditional and social media, a select few had gone on to win competitive Peace Promotion Fellowships—funded opportunities to work with mentors and create their own individual peacebuilding projects. These projects are broad and cover a variety of issues across several communities in Northern Nigeria. With a focus on including and empowering youth and women, they range from keeping girls in school, to helping youth stay away from drugs, to building peace coalitions among traditional leaders and civic groups, and more.

Abdussamad decided to reach out to some of his local PPFs for ideas about expanding impact, and #Tea4Peace was born. While all the PPF projects are different, he knew they could learn from each other and that they all shared a common goal: to build peace in their communities. He invited the individual PPFs he had met at the Tech Camp as well as other youth influencers, CEOs and founders of youth-led organizations, and even members of the media.

The #Tea4Peace event was a fantastic success. They gathered outdoors at Banana Restaurant in Kano and took part in an age-long tradition: drinking tea while sharing stories. Twenty-three enthusiastic young men and women came from across the region, and everyone was eager to share their experiences and ask others for their opinions, suggestions, and advice.

Participants bubbled with energy and ideas, and it was obvious to everyone that discussions like this must continue, as they can not only provide each other with support and valuable insight, but the projects themselves have a greater chance of success with new ideas for improvements. Issues about peacebuilding, the role of new media, gender-based violence, and social change for youth dominated the discussion that lasted over two hours.

The #Tea4Peace campaign has only just begun, with plans for collaboration, resource sharing, and discussions around sustainability and long-lasting impact.

“Tea, not like football, in Kano, is a connecting bridge between young men and women, hence the turnout and fruitfulness of the discussion! We are searching for peace through a sip from a cup.”