A Decade of Peace in the Middle East and North Africa

YaLa Academy Peace Institute in Honor of Nelson Mandela final project: Imagine what the MENA region would look like in 10 years, if peace was established today? How did it happen? What practices and institutions were put into place in order to establish this peace? Remember to draw on the skills we’ve learned from our lecturers throughout the semester. You can write a blog, make a video, write a song, create an infographic… Feel free to get creative!

By Ibrahim Hassan Mohammed (Somalia)

I have been destined to live and be part of a country where the civil war began in 1991 and continues until today. A country that is unstable and that is affiliated with war. The reason for the war that made so many wives widows, so many children orphans, is yet to be discovered. Selfish motives of individuals and the belief that one clan is better than another made Somalia a failed state.

It is not only in Somalia that war has taken root, but also in many other countries within the Middle East and North Africa. The conflicts and war have made many people homeless, raised the rate of poverty, the rate of death, and increased the number of orphans. Children and the elderly suffer the most in countries affiliated with war. I believe that hatred and war has made the life of so many a living hell.

It wouldn’t be a miracle if the MENA region achieved peace, because people are tired of war and they need peace. I believe the youth can make a huge change towards establishing peace. It takes courage, understanding, and love for each other to make peace. The youth from countries in the MENA region could come together and form peace making institutions and put effort towards establishing peace. What they need to do is understand the reasons behind the conflicts, the reasons their countries are falling apart, and the role the government is playing in keeping the peace.

The youth need to stand up for their countries, and explain to the citizens the importance of peace. How their lives would change for the better – they would have a good education system, improved health care, and better paid jobs. The only way we can make peace is for each of us to be the peace we want to see. We need to let our enemies know that we don’t hate them, but we love them. We need to show them that we want peace and not to fight. It’s up to us, we can’t wait for someone more powerful or wiser to deliver peace. We are the wise and powerful ones who choose peace in every thought and action.

Let’s plant ourselves in the middle of what we love most – the thing within us that is most alive. Others may want to waste their precious time focusing on the perceived ugliness in the world. Be the one who focuses on the positive, and watch the magic happen. Our thoughts are powerful. What we pay attention to expands. Attract peace with your thoughts. Notice peaceful people and places, tune out violence.

And remember that more people are at peace than at war all across the earth. This is the story we need to focus on, broadcast, and amplify. The world is evolving and becoming a brighter place. The youth need to realize that the world depends on them to make peace happen, regardless of the time it would take. They should also advise and encourage the other youths to join peace institutions and get more knowledge of peace and see the world with different eyes. The world is indeed a better place to live with peace at its best.

In conclusion, peace doesn’t come from the government, it doesn’t come from nowhere. It comes from the voice of the people. They should know that they really want peace. Work for it and make it happen. Change comes from within the people. Ten years from now, the MENA region would be so beautiful in peace, but if only the people believe in peace and make it a priority and work towards it. Believe in peace and make it happen!

To learn more about the YaLa Peace Institute in Honor of Nelson Mandela, click here.

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