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Empowering Malian youth to overcome displacement, break the cycle of conflict, and lead towards peace, stability and opportunity.

We will train two young leaders with the tools to drive sustainable social, economic & political change in their displaced home communities.

Photo of rondine Cittadella della Pace
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

For over 20 years, Rondine has supported displaced youth from around the world, training emerging leaders from conflict zones to enact sustainable change in their home countries. From Chechnya to Sierra Leone, youth arrive at Rondine’s campus from opposite sides of conflict, but over two years of intensive education find much in common. Most were born into conflict; stability is just a concept they’ve read about. Some have been forced to flee their homes; some live with that fearful prospect every day. Displaced from their homes, but also the social and economic opportunities that could help them move beyond simply surviving, at Rondine youth find a temporary home and a permanent global community of support. Working with youth from nearly every corner of the world, we know that for communities to develop past basic survival and flourish, they need educated, passionate leaders invested in their success. Drawing on decades of expertise in conflict resolution and specialized leadership training, we identify the youth who can become those transformational leaders. Living and studying together, Rondine students learn to engage with their so-called enemy and recognize their humanity, deconstruct the conflict they’ve grown up with, and design their own projects to spur stability back home. Now we hope to expand our next class of leaders to meet a growing need in Mali, where violent conflict is fueling an alarming rate of displacement. Three Malian students have just graduated and returned home to launch community projects refined at Rondine, with three more Maliian students set to graduate next year. But with 2019 on track for even higher levels of internal displacement, and growing corruption and economic instability in its wake, we want to do more. To amplify our impact, we’ll bring two more Malian youth to Italy, providing the training and support to help them implement lasting social, economic and political change in their displaced home communities.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

With intensifying military operations and violence, displacement in Mali is rapidly rising. Renewed instability creates fertile conditions for corruption and radicalization, a dangerous development in a country serving as training ground for international terrorism. A generation of Malian youth is being geographically and socially displaced, disconnected from the education, infrastructure and opportunity that could empower them to not only survive but thrive.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

At Rondine youth from opposing sides of conflict learn to live & work together. With training and time they bridge deep cultural, religious and language divides. They build relationships with the neighbors who they once considered their enemy, and also students from the other side of the world with whom they seemingly share nothing in common. With the tools to build bridges and advance dialogue in any tough situation, they leave prepared to lead their communities from instability to security.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

As the displacement crisis in Mali has grown, international efforts have focused on security interventions and immediate humanitarian needs. Rondine takes a unique and longer-term approach. We hope to transform instability towards sustainable peace and opportunity, empowering Malian youth to become leaders who can in turn empower their home communities to achieve their full human potential and break the cycle of conflict, instability and underdevelopment. Because when the conflict subsides, aid trucks roll out and international attention fades, displaced people cannot simply return home. Even if that home still exists in some form and there’s enough food on the table, rebuilding a strong and productive community is a steep challenge. When we empower promising young leaders to drive the development of their communities, we’re also investing in their ambitions and dreams for the next generation, building a brighter and more hopeful future that's built by and for Malians.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Rondine’s impact cannot be measured quickly, youth undertake 18 months of intensive training before returning home to launch their community projects, and the first cohort of Malian students just graduated from Rondine this June. But the projects underway in Mali already show great promise for creating positive change in their communities, from a new approach to elementary education that prioritizes cultural dialogue and aims to break the recruitment cycle of youth into armed groups, vocational training that would support the jobs necessary to rebuild an entire displaced community. And countless alumni around the world show similar and sustained actionable impact in their communities, from working to improve democratic election systems in Sierra Leone to launching social enterprises that invest back into the community.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

In 1995, Rondine's founders negotiated a cease-fire in Chechnya. The condition of local students inspired the idea to bring them to Italy to complete their education. They had great potential, but little means to develop it. Beyond meeting the initial humanitarian needs of these students, the natural and cultural richness of Tuscany inspired a more holistic idea: living with the enemy in a neutral international community. Today we’ve grown to host 30 students every year, with a global network of 200 alumni working in community development. Unfortunately global conflict and displacement has not subsided, and the need has only grown for the type of interventions that Rondine offers. While each community and circumstance is unique, with every student who arrives at Rondine we’re able to tailor our deep experience to provide effective, specialized training that best positions youth to fulfill their potential and lead their communities, like that very first group of Chechnyan students.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

The community of current Rondine students itself is small, each class of 30 youth arrive from conflict and post conflict zones (Balkans, Caucasus, Africa, South America, Middle East) to live in our quiet medieval village in Tuscany. But its impact is felt much more broadly, with an alumni network of nearly 200 youth leaders around the world who return to Rondine on a regular basis for further training and mentorship of new students. And then there are the thousands of people who visit the Rondine campus every year - on average 3,000 - to attend various trainings and activities, from cultural conferences to international immersion workshops. While the community we aim to serve is always first and foremost the youth leaders who live and study at Rondine, creating a strong community of international support to fuel an exchange of ideas and opportunities allows us to leverage the strength of our program for these students well beyond our small Tuscan village.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

"With weapons you can kill the warrior, but it is with education that we can kill the spirit of war". That’s how Georges, one of the Malian students currently finishing his training at Rondine, described his motivation to improve his home community. Educated as a teacher, Georges wants to curb the cycle of youth recruitment into armed conflict in Mali by providing better, alternative opportunities in education. The greatest strength of the Rondine program is the strength of the individuals who get selected for training. Emerging leaders like Georges who choose to join are highly motivated and involved in their communities; it’s not an easy undertaking. We best leverage our chances for sustainable long term change by identifying youth with the greatest potential to make the most of the experience once home, a process that we have become particularly good at over 20-plus years and with input from a large global network of local leaders and alumni.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

To strengthen our capacity and incorporate methodology specific to the region, we are finalizing partnerships with American universities to develop training sessions for Rondine students. Collaborating with academic experts in migration (and the regional conflict), we will develop sessions tailored to regional needs and constraints. After the new Malian students’ first year of training in Italy, we also plan to bring 15 American graduate students from our partner university to join our full class for a summer session, learn from their diverse range of experiences and build strategies to address migration at the international level. This project will also be supported by the Rondine International Peace Lab, an international organization made up of almost 200 world leaders committed to the creative transformation of conflicts who have graduated from Rondine’s training program and are actively working to promote dialogue, peace and stability in conflict and post-conflict contexts.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Returning home

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Systems design: Solutions that target changing larger system

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Majority Adoption: We have expanded the pilot significantly and the program product or service has been adopted by the majority of our intended user base (i.e. 50% to 83% of the target population or 50,000 to 1,000,000 users).

Group or Organization Name

Rondine Cittadella della Pace

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Rondine Cittadella della Pace is an organization committed to reducing armed conflicts around the world and spreading its own method for the creative transformation of conflicts in every context. Our objective is contributing to a planet free from armed clashes, in which every person has the tools to manage conflicts in a creative and positive way. Rondine was born in a Medieval Tuscan hamlet, a few kilometres away from Arezzo. It is a place where promising youth can fulfill their potential in a safe, supported, neutral context, becoming leaders for themselves and their own communities, in the search for the common good. The project that gave rise and inspiration to Rondine is the Studentato Internazionale – World House: it hosts young people who come from countries that are the scene of armed conflicts or post-conflict and helps them to discover the human being in their enemy, through the difficult and surprising effort that comes from living together daily.

Website URL:

https://rondine.org/en/

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

Italy

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Località Rondine, Arezzo AR

3 comments

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Photo of Uchenna Okafor
Team

Hi rondine Cittadella della Pace, indeed a giant stride to train and reintegrate displaced young people back into their communities to lead others out of displacement. However, most disabled persons in developing countries spend their entire life in displacement, destitution, poverty, social rejection, and more without much attention of help from the society. Well, it seems a normal situation acceptable by all members of the society in such countries for the blind, deaf, dumb, lame, etc to live through harrowing ordeal, maybe as an ill luck from the gods. Nevertheless, is there any provision in your design to accommodate these most vulnerable people of all times in the model?

Photo of rondine Cittadella della Pace
Team

Hi there, great question, thank you!

We encourage applications from all young leaders in conflict and post-conflict zones, supporting and catering to their individual cultural, religious, dietary and accessibility needs once they’re at Rondine. And we’d love to welcome a student who is committed to tackling social inclusion and accessibility for people of all abilities. We believe that students themselves know their communities’ needs best and we don’t set their agenda, we just empower them with the tools and training to make the most positive change. No doubt that issues of disability and social stigma play a large role in displacement for many communities, and we hope to identify and include an emerging leader dedicated to changing that dynamic in one of our future classes!

Photo of Uchenna Okafor
Team

Many thanks for this swift understanding that disability even during a stable times in developing territories is no different from displacement in every sense of the word. Adding to that, life of extreme poverty, illiteracy, destitution and homelessness, social and cultural rejection, street begging devoid of all human dignity, etc trailing disabled persons could not be defined differently from displacement and hopelessness. Now, imagine their condition during instabilities, civil unrest, disasters, wars, terrorists attacks, social and economic crises, insurgencies and other emergencies? Unfortunately, insignificant global attention to the harrowing ordeal of this vulnerable group in developing countries appears a global conspiracy of discrimination. So, could your organisation in collaboration with related organisations introduce short courses of say 4weeks or less to train persons committed to tackling social inclusion and accessibility for people of all abilities. Yes; you are absolutely correct that disabled persons themselves know their needs; thus, in the best position to lead others through the journey of positive change. As a member of community with vision-loss, i have many programmes and designs to destroy the ugly conditions artificially created by the society for disabled persons, but lack the resources, training, and tools to amplify my voice and programmes to make necessary impact. Moreover, you can check on my book: Living with Vision-loss in the Developing Countries published on amazon kdp and paper back. Therefore, I appeal for your collaboration and support, regardless of how little to commence on something reasonable, towards this mission. I have already led four other persons to incorporate a charity known as Visual Impairment and Blindness Support Initiative (VIBSI), still very young organisation though. At the moment the organisation is operating in my residential apartment and without an official website, in addition to holding meetings with other blind members of this mission in public spaces. Meanwhile, the current e-mail address of the organisation is contactvibsi@gmail.com and my personal e-mail is diamondhill4@yahoo.com. Thank you in anticipation of a response.