ICF Project Phase 2018-2020 Ends and a New Phase Begins

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Last Updated (Wednesday, 07 October 2020 17:21)

The Interfaith Cooperation Forum is a project of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY). As the project holder, APAY raises funds from its coffers to support ICF but also finds support from a partner-donor, the Bread for the World. The two-year-and-a-half project phase from 2018-2020 was ending on June 30, 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bread for the World graciously allowed the extension at no cost of the project up to September 30, 2020. This “extension at no cost” meant that the partner-donor does not give any extra funds for the three-month extension period, but allowed the project to implement the remaining programs according to the approved budget. Under the rubric of Movement Building, the project phase 2018-2020 included two sets of two-month-long School of Peace, two sets of two-week-long Peace Institutes, ten five-days thematic workshops, ten ICF alumni-initiated follow up programs on peacebuilding, and at least eight local peacebuilding and advocacy that the ICF alumni or youth peace activists initiate in various countries. A Program Committee composed of ICF alumni, ICF staff, and APAY personnel were to meet once a year. Under Advocacy, ICF programs include one Asian Peacebuilding Summit, maintain a website, publish six e-newsletters annually, and publish “at least three paper books.”

Project Phase 2018-2020 Ends

The implementation of the programs went well as planned, except for the cancellation of the Asian Peacebuilding Summit due to the pandemic. Set finally in September, the preparations for the Summit had already been in place. However, before ICF could send the initial information and invitations to the participants and resource persons in March 2020, the Asian countries implemented lockdowns due to the pandemic.

ICF organized the School of Peace 2018 at Duta Wacana Faculty of Theology in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and the School of Peace 2019 at YMCA, Chiang Mai, Thailand. The Philippines and Thailand hosted the two Peace Institutes, respectively. The countries that hosted the thematic workshops were the following: Cambodia, Timor Leste, and Nepal in 2018; the Philippines, Jayapura in Indonesia, and Tozanzo, Japan in 2019; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Jorhat in Assam, India in 2020. ICF held the other two thematic workshops in 2020 online due to the pandemic, and ICF opened these workshops to participants from different Asian countries.

The ICF Screening Committee approved in January the applications to avail of the Small Grants program in 2020, but the applicants had difficulty in their implementation, again, due to the pandemic. Instead of eight, there were thirteen (13) programs implemented for local peace education and advocacy. Instead of ten, there were only four (4) alumni follow-up program applications.

The projected publication of three (3) books within the two-year and a half project phase was rather ambitious. Bread for the World’s Christian Fischer agreed that ICF could publish just one e-book. However, ICF has published an e-book entitled Seek Peace and Pursue It: Daring to Take Small Steps. A hard-copy version of it is underway. This is a collection of articles from APAY and ICF staff, but the bigger bulk of essays and poetry come from the ICF alumni. A forthcoming book jointly published by ICF and The Tribal Study Centre of Eastern Theological College is entitled Just-Peace in Globalized Context: North East India Focus. This is a collection of the inputs of the resource persons during the thematic workshop in Jorhat in February 2020. ICF has also published fourteen (14) issues of the e-newsletter, The Peacebuilders, short of one issue since the Coordinator joined ICF only in mid-2018.

The New Phase Begins

On October 1, 2020, the new phase begins. This three-year phase covers the period from October 2020 to September 2023. While the ICF Program Committee has set the plans during its January meeting in Kuala Lumpur, ICF obviously needs to adjust the program schedules, as the COVID-19 pandemic seems unabated yet in most Asian countries.

The month of October will see the ICF staff conducting internal evaluation and writing the final report for the partner-donor. The staff also will prepare for the series of zoom conferences in November and December 2020 in place of a thematic workshop. E-newsletter, The Peacebuilders September-October issue will come out by the end of October.

There are plans for thematic workshops and Peace Institute as a training of trainers. However, ICF will finalize the schedules and send out the announcements as soon as the situation of the pandemic eases in most Asian countries.

With a sense of hope, we at ICF will borrow from former UN General Secretary Dag Hammarskjold’s words:

For all that has been,
For all that will be,

~ Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro, ICF Coordinator