Local peace builder Henri Ladyi helps Congolese turn from violence
Henri Ladyi formed the Center for Conflict Resolution in the Democratic Republic of Congo to oppose widespread rape and child soldiering.
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Establishing Peace Direct in the United States is an effort to increase the organization’s impact, both by tapping into a large donor base as well as influencing policymakers and leaders in the field of conflict resolution. Peace Direct finds its partners through recommendations, research, and leads that come in through its website, Insight on Conflict, which provides information about local peace building efforts around the world.Skip to next paragraph
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“It’s the locals who decide what needs to be done,” Hayman said, “and then we try to help them make it happen.”
Robert Wilkinson, a founding member of the US board for Peace Direct, learned about the organization several years ago while working for Britain's Department for International Development. He had to determine if the British government should award Peace Direct a grant, and to do so needed to be convinced of its effectiveness on the ground. Ultimately, he was.
“They kind of cut to the chase. They found the right people and gave them money,” Mr. Wilkinson said at an event in New York recently. “They cut through the nonsense. And their ability to find change agents was impressive.”
Out of Peace Direct’s roughly £1.1 million ($1.8 million) budget for 2009-2010, 88 percent went to finding and funding peace builders and promoting their work.
This work usually begins small but grows with the needs of the partners, said Hayman. Peace Direct helps partners raise money from other organizations so they can become self-sustaining. It also seeks to convince larger entities, like the United Nations, to recognize the value of local peace builders.
Fostering relationships between outside experts, who wield considerable power, and locals is a key element of the strategy. Too often, local peace builders – those with the most intimate understanding of the problems on the ground – are left at the margins.
Peace Direct is a small organization, but it has already received some key recognition. According to a survey conducted last year by Keystone Accountability, a group that helps organizations plan, measure, and report their work for social change, Peace Direct ranked highest in partner satisfaction out of 25 nongovernmental organizations.
The report is good news, but many who support Peace Direct, like Mark Rylance, the well-known British actor and a long-time backer, were already convinced. The way Peace Direct empowers local voices for peace, enabling them to be heard by the broader international community, is an important achievement, he says.
“The local voice is too quiet right now,” said Mr. Rylance, who is currently starring in “Jerusalem” on Broadway and who has performed a moving reading of a script about Ladyi's life. “This organization has given the local voice a megaphone.”