Mariam Barandia

The Philippines
For decades the Southern 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.

Mariam Barandia was an integral part of setting up KI in 2004, and has been Executive Director ever since. She is a Licensed Civil Engineer and formerly a Chief Account Management Specialist at Landbank of the Philippines. 

Mariam graduated as an Engineer from a prestigious university with a high grade. However, she soon discovered that when she applied for jobs as soon as the employers realized that she was a Muslim and from the Maranao tribe, they refused to employ her. So she never got the chance to work as an engineer. Then, after a successful career in banking, Mariam wanted to provide opportunities for Young Muslim graduates who were facing the same prejudices as she experienced. In 2004, Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) began exploring ways to develop a Muslim national volunteering program. Mariam began developing a project with them which gave rise to KI later that year.

KI is bringing the two communities back together as they counteract prejudice between Muslims and Christians by introducing Muslim volunteers into community organizations across the region. They empower Muslim volunteers to apply their talents in other communities to bridge the deep-rooted religious divides in between. KI has trained 108 (69F, 39M) Muslim youth volunteers contributing over 240,000 hours of peacebuilding work. KI volunteers reached already more than 100,000 individuals through their work in host organizations. In 2009-10, KI developed two interfaith youth for peace groups in the province of Lanao incorporating youth from Muslim, Christian and Indigenous communities.

Mariam is also a 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 United National Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and BMW, and the Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders prize supported by Peace Direct.

She has been invited to talk about her unique work in Canada, India, Azerbaijan and Germany. In September, she will be speaker at the 2016 Build Peace Conference in Switzerland.

 

 
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