Mariam Barandia ( Philippines)
As a Muslim in the conflict-ridden Mindanao region, Mariam has faced discrimination in every realm of society. Even after graduating from university as a civil engineer, Mariam was denied job opportunities in state institutions where Christians are favoured. Thus, in 2004 Mariam left her full-time job (which was out of her field) to set up an organization to help young Muslim graduates facing discrimination. As she explains: “I witnessed young Muslim graduates languishing in disappointment, unable to find jobs that matched their qualifications due to discrimination. Their experiences were very similar to mine. I wanted to help them. I set up Kapamagogopa Inc. (KI) with another colleague of mine.” KI provides skills training and then places participants in volunteer positions. While volunteering, young Muslims serve members from Christian communities to help dispel negative perceptions and prejudices between communities. KI also works to help women volunteers, particularly former women combatants, expand their economic opportunities and exercise their role in building peace.