For decades the Philippines has been victim to a bloody armed struggle between the government and Muslim separatists seeking an independent state in southern parts of the country. At least 150,000 people have been killed and, since 2000, three million people have been forced to flee their homes. The violence has left a legacy of suspicion and mistrust between Christian and Muslim communities.
In this background Mariam B. Barandia finished her career in banking in Mindanao, the region worst affected by the conflict and founded Kapamagogopa Incorporated (KI). The organization provides opportunities for Young Muslim graduates who were facing the same prejudices as she experienced herself as a Maranao, a minority Muslim tribe in Mindanao.
KI is bringing the two communities back together as they counteract prejudice between Muslims and Christians by introducing Muslim volunteers into community organisations across the region. They empower Muslim volunteers to apply their talents in other communities to bridge the deep-rooted religious divides in between. KI volunteers reached already more than 10,000 individuals through their work in host organisations.
Mariam B. Barandia is the Executive Director of KI and also board member of several civil society organizations working for peace in Mindanao. She is a committed peacebuilder and a leading light in the promotion of national volunteering in the Southern Philippines. In 2013 KI were winners of the Intercultural Innovation Award, organized by UNAOC and BMW, and the Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders prize. Their work is also supported by Peace Direct.