12.4.14

Technology to Wage Peace Not War

Building Peace not War through Technology

April 9, 2014 at 3:15am
Technology can be used for building Peace not War. Whilst some folks may be wracking their brains to produce technology that is tantamount to accelerating conflict or causing blatant mayhem, a small but very influential organization 'Build Peace' has just done the reverse. They have proven that technology can be used for the greater good and to promote peaceful coexistence or mitigate conflict.
They 've just hosted the 'Build Peace, through technology conference and have figured out a spot to host this as no less a spot as the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They have n't tried to do it alone as they found out it is too challenging and complex a thing to do all by themselves. Thanks to this conviction I became part of a carefully well chosen small group of experts who were flown over to the MIT to share, think, learn, innovate and explore new or successfully proven approaches to build peace via technology. The organizers believed that " The Build Peace Conference brings together practitioners, activists and technologists from around the world to share experience and ideas on using technology for peacebuilding and conflict transformation and how to build peace".

Both Francesco Mancini,( Senior Director of Research, International Peace Institute), and
Chris Perry, (Research Fellow; Data Scientist, International Peace Institute),  in the conference White paper observed that  "the use of ICTs is leading to an unprecedented diffusion of both knowledge and power. The digital information age has contributed to the substantial growth of social networks as well as the number and diversity of actors with a microphone. Relatedly, the ability to be influential and to be  influenced at a rapid and continual pace is fundamentally affecting the methods of conflict actors and creating new spheres of contestant. For example, much has been said about the role of social media in the eruption of the so-called Arab Spring. Factors such as the massive increase in the number of mobile devices with cameras add the capacity for wide spread documentation of events on the ground not previously available. Greater Internet access and the ability to reach millions of people worldwide has had huge implications both for information dissemination as well as narrative shaping. This implies that there are potentials for the rise of “citizen conflict analysts” or “citizen propagandists.”

On the Build Peace Conference website the organizers have also constructively set the stage for us clearly: "Technology is altering how we engage with the world, offering new avenues for social change. Over the course of two days, we will explore how information and communications technologies, games, networking platforms and other tools can enhance the impact of a broad range of peacebuilding, social cohesion and peace advocacy initiatives.Most ICT4Peace discussions focus on early warning and crisis response. Few pay attention to the use of technology for attitude and behavior change, collaboration, dialogue, or policy advocacy. Build Peace aims to complement existing forums by expanding the discussion to encompass other important areas of peace-building practice."

At this inaugural Build Peace conference my views were reaffirmed again that technology does add value to a whole gamut of peace work. Technology helps and provides that space to build peace as well as a unique ability to recognize and protest horrific injustice when it occurs today.

Over the last 13 years of my efforts at promoting peace via technology, first working to help former child soldiers and children and youth victims of war in Sierra Leone use technology as a way to heal their minds from the trauma of war, and a chance to communicate to a global audience, and later on assisting amputee victims who have faced unprecedented violence to tell their stories and learn ICT skills, I have discovered the uniqueness of using technology in many of my peace efforts. These tools have till date, helped me profoundly in my commitment in achieving my goals for peace promotion and human rights. In a world where a lot of people face violence and intimidation as well as inequality and seem to go unnoticed, technology has provided the space and the tools to unearth these problems and allow a great deal of opportunity to open up the 'Pandora's Box' of  often concealed  violations.

The 'Build Peace through Technology Conference' allows us to deeply reflect on how we can take action on behalf of people who are trying to forge their own paths to freedom and liberation from the scourges of war, neglect and abuse.

The Build Peace conference reflects our oneness and through communication, network opportunities, the event demonstrates the timeless truth that we are all one with God and life - caring for each other and the planet we share, so that people's actions reflect this profound understanding within our generation. The conference shows us that living these truth is essential in solving the most chronic and acute world problems and are vital to creating a sustainable world peace, harmony and happiness.

I found the 'Ignite Talks ' very powerful and shows how we have been committed in waging peace via technology, not war, and the sharing of powerful stories from different places. The stories of peace work were powerful and equally important and inspiring stories of peace efforts that needed to be told.

The conference and organizers brought together like-minded peace activist and professionals as well as communities whose ignite talks, videos and PowerPoint presentations shared breakthrough approaches in helping to mitigate conflict and build peace.

Ronny Edry's Ignite talk on 'Make a friend, make Peace' does capture the simple ways that mutual friendship, even if virtual and online can reaffirm our commonality of purpose in living in living in a world that we share. Just a click away brings peace, joy and friendship and such online friendship does culminate into a very personal relationship that fosters peace and harmony even amongst often polarized groups of Israelis and Palestinians.

The event made room for interactions as well as immersive learning, with high calibre networking and thought-provoking discussions around various methods of using technology for peace. Many who spoke at the 'Ignite talks' have used social media to support their peacebuilding ventures in innovative ways.  Some of the panels explored how 'practitioners and organizations are using mobile and internet technologies and the data they might generate to analyse evolving conflicts in a more accurate and timely way, and provide better advice to peacebuilders responding to conflicts.'

I was so excited to hear stories and ideas that have come out of the build peace conference through technology, from people who don't look like us, or people from diverse countries who still share a common belief of peace and tolerance and have so much to tell us or teach us about carving a world of peaceful co-existence with equal passion.  I also saw and realized first-hand, the amazing opportunity to go in-dept and do a deep dive to learn about the nuances of peacebuilding through technology and I thought it was just so brilliant. It was indeed an amazing and enriching investment of my time in Boston, and education for peace through technology, an experience that helps me to become an even better peace building professional. It was an opportunity to meet with key Peace Builders from all sides of the peace building efforts and share my own inspirational stories in Sierra Leone in building peace in the hearts of those amputees who bore the most brutal consequences in our countries war, and to initiate activities of tolerance, reconciliation, forgiveness and bring the technology closer to them to foster networking opportunities that foster peaceful collaboration, friendship and peaceful co-existence.

Today, 'Practitioners and organizations are using mobile and internet technologies and the data they might generate to analyse evolving conflicts in a more accurate and timely way, and provide better advice to peacebuilders responding to conflicts.'




16.5.13

Pan African Awards for Entrepreneurship in Education - Goes to B-Gifted Foundation of Sierra Leone

Greene (left)  (Jeanne Sauve 04),  ITU Fellow 11, Provides technology equipment for war amputee victims for the pilot phase of the B-Gifted Foundation (Digital Hope) project supported by UN ITU in 2011. The project continues to use telecommunication technology to give voices to amputees who faced challenges in being assimilated in an ever-growing  telecom world. Greene envisioned that these technologies can bridge the digital and economic divide and amplify the voices of those who will not otherwise be heard.


B-Gifted Founder demonstrates the use of new technologies to the war victims and shows the enormous power that technology will have in the lives of amputee victims of war, noting that these new technologies will weave a great deal of humanitarian concerns to their plight'.

The beneficiaries themselves are on all fours helping to build their new ICT centre and being very happy to contribute their time and efforts in the creation of the digital centres that will ultimately help to transform their lives.
The UN ITU Supported Digital Hope Project allows amputee victims of war to successfully carve a  niche for themselves, exploiting the available resources and technologies to engage in entrepreneurship, create market for their business and gain livelihoods. The project also helps in the growing concern of the human rights of victims of amputation and disabled persons and create an awareness to the plight of these victims which is made possible through sharing and learning via ICT.
B-Gifted Foundation of Sierra Leone, Announced as Winner of ‘Educating Africa’ Award
[B-Gifted Foundation of Sierra Leone], has been named as on of the organizations with the most entrepreneurial approach to education Sierra Leone, in the Educating Africa Pan-African Awards for
Entrepreneurship in Education. With over 350 entries from all over Africa, [B-Gifted Foundation of
Sierra Leone] has done exceptionally well to be named a country winner in the competition. It’s unique and entrepreneurial approach to  education meant that it caught the judges’ attention even despite this being the most competitive competition to date. This is the fifth time  that the Pan African Awards for Entrepreneurship in Education have  been run by UK-based international development charity, Teach A Man To  Fish.

As a country prize winner, [B-Gifted Foundation of Sierra Leone], are entitled to prize winnings of USD $1,000. Now it is time to scale up! We are looking at scaling up our ICT Digital Hope education centre for war victims. Your support can make a real difference.


[B-Gifted Foundation of Sierra Leone], www.bgiftedfoundation.org uses creativity and technology  to address human rights, enhance peace and development. B-GIFTED  Foundation strives to make the world a better place with a tightly
threaded tapestry of creative ideas. B-GIFTED Foundation is a  non-profit organization that was named at the behest & in honour of an  eponymous peace activist & human rights educator, who, over time, has
used creativity & technology to buttress his growing corpus of  groundbreaking peacemaking & culture-building endeavours. Where ideas  bloom & blossom, triumph draws nigh, our programs, steadily hoisted
from the doldrums, thereby may over- leap myriad moats and mountains.


The aim of the competition was to identify and celebrate the achievements of social entrepreneurs who understand the role education  can play within their communities. ‘'With this competition we were
looking for programmes which are innovative, sustainable and create  real impact – and we have found them. By awarding them we hope to  encourage others to imitate winner’s approach and work towards more
and better education in Africa’’, says Nik Kafka, Managing Director of  Teach A Man To Fish.

More about the competition

Now in its fifth year, the 2012 Pan African Awards for  Entrepreneurship continue to reward organizations in Africa that use  innovative and entrepreneurial techniques to fill gaps in educational  services across the continent.

Entries were assessed against the criteria of entrepreneurship,  sustainability, and impact. The winners were selected by a panel of  international judges, with the top entry receiving a prize of $10,000  and the two runners-up prizes of $5,000. There is also a $1,000 prize  for the best entry for each country.

More about the winners
More detailed information about this year’s winners is available here:
http://teachamantofish.org.uk/pan-african-awards-2012-winners
More about the competition organizers
TeachAManToFish is an international non-profit organization working to improve the relevancy, quality, and availability of education in  developing countries. Our pioneering approach uses profit-making  school-run businesses to teach entrepreneurship and livelihood skills. This model allows schools to generate additional income, improving  their financial sustainability, while at the same time enabling them
to offer a more relevant and higher quality education.
For more information visit www.teachamantofish.org.uk

Educating Africa is a foundation committed to introducing cost effective and sensible education initiatives throughout Africa, and to acknowledging some of the tremendous educational projects that have
been developed across the continent. It is apparent that there are superb educational ideas, generous benefactors and intellectual capital that is willing and able to be invested in worthwhile
educational projects. However, often there is a mismatch in linking the various groups. Educating Africa seeks to bridge this gap and match up these groups.

For more information visit www.EducatingAfrica.com

For media enquiries please contact:

B-Gifted Foundation
C/O 52 Spur Loop, FREETOWN,
Sierra Leone,
West Africa

Tel: 00232-78-166966
Fax: 0023222224439

Email Us:
b.giftedfoundation@gmail.com

5.11.12

ITU Telecom World 2012 Dubai- Please Join us


ITU Telecom World 2012



Five days of debate in Dubai, from 14 - 18 October, will explore the radical transformation of the ICT industry and the implications for policy, regulation and competitive strategy.

This transformation is driven by game changers, the trends and technologies revolutionizing the industry and the world we live in.The Young Innovators Competition at ITU Telecom World 2012 offers social entrepreneurs aged 18-25 years old the opportunity to shine a global ICT spotlight on their innovative ideas and digital creativity.


Nearly 400 young entrepreneurs from 77 countries around the world submitted innovative ICT-based early concepts or mature projects - demonstrating how fresh thinking and talent for technology can provide real-world solutions to real-world problems and change the future for the better.
Conversation that matters
Greene has a very long history of leadership and innovation in ICT that gives hope and promise to thousands of young people in post-conflict Sierra Leone. His dedication to promoting peace and human rights via ICT has won him a number of prestigious International Awards: From Cable & Wireless Childnet Awards at the Science Museum in London 2003, to the Crossing Boundaries
Bremen Peace Awards in Bremen Germany in 2003, From the Beyond Borders International Video Competition (Personal Stories from a small planet) hosted by Listen Up in New York in 2003, to the Global Junior Challenge Competition in Rome Italy 2007, Greene's innovation has set him apart. In 2011, Greene won the prestigious ITU Telecom World Digital Innovation Fellowship at the inaugural open competition with his unique ICT initiative 'Digital Hope'. ITU's overwhelming support of Greene and other young Global Innovators was such a refreshing reminder of how Telecom is at its best to chiseling the best of global minds. Greene was also supported by his country's the National Telecommunication Commission in Sierra Leone (NATCOM), as well as individuals and friends, to preparing the much-needed presentation and exhibition materials that helped him to showcase his award winning innovative initiative. At the ITU Telecom World 2012 in Dubai (October 14th to 18th, Greene brought his interdisciplinary research experience in using ICT, and a strong edge to use ICT for peace, E-Development, and education.
Greene joined other non-profit and business leaders around the world in a five days of debate in Dubai, from 14 - 18 October, exploring the radical transformation of the ICT industry and the implications for policy, regulation and competitive strategy.
'In late 2011, the United Nations agency for ICT, designed and delivered an innovation competition and accelerator programme for young entrepreneurs and not-for-profits whose ideas could solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.'




Greene Jr, and other shortlisted participants developed their nascent idea into a product pitch ready for investment. Their workable business model was enhanced through Notosh's workshops, and Greene with his colleague innovators delivered a pitch to an audience of global leaders in technology. Greene's winning pitch received investment from ITU to take his idea to its first prototype. the young innovators were asked to keep ITU updated and later share the development of their applications in the form of blog posts demonstrating how they have realized their digital dreams of making the world a better place through ICT-based social enterprise.
A year later, UN ITU summoned Greene and other distinguished young innovators from around the world to share their projects to a galaxy of techno industries. This 'all-telling' is summed up in the specially constructed 'Young InniovatorSpace' for the budding tink tanks in the world of telecom to brandish their work to a revered and expereinced ICT audience.

In 2012 nearly 400 young entrepreneurs from 77 countries around the world submitted innovative ICT-based early concepts or mature projects - demonstrating how fresh thinking and talent for technology can provide real-world solutions to real-world problems and change the future for the better.




This transformation is driven by game changers, the trends and technologies revolutionizing the industry and the world we live in.The Young Innovators Competition at ITU Telecom World 2012 offers social entrepreneurs aged 18-25 years old the opportunity to shine a global ICT spotlight on their innovative ideas and digital creativity.  

26.9.12

ITU Telecom World 2012 Dubai- Please Join us

ITU Telecom World 2012

Conversation that matters
Greene has a long history of leadership and innovation in ICT that gives hope and promise to thousands of young people in post-conflict Sierra Leone. His dedication to promoting peace and human rights via ICT has won him a number of prestigious International Awards. In 2011, Greene won the prestigious ITU Telecom  World Digital Innovation Fellowship at the inaugural open competition with his unique ICT initiative 'Digital Hope'. Supported by the National Telecommunication Commission in Sierra Leone (NATCOM),  individuals and friends, Greene brought presentation materials that helped him to showcase his award winning initiative. At the ITU Telecom World 2012 in Dubai (October 14th to 18th, Greene brought his interdisciplinary research experience in using ICT, and a strong edge to use ICT for peace, E-Development, and  education. 
Greene joined other non-profit and business leaders around the world in a five days of debate in Dubai, from 14 - 18 October, exploring the radical transformation of the ICT industry and the implications for policy, regulation and competitive strategy.

This transformation is driven by game changers, the trends and technologies revolutionizing the industry and the world we live in.The Young Innovators Competition at ITU Telecom World 2012 offers social entrepreneurs aged 18-25 years old the opportunity to shine a global ICT spotlight on their innovative ideas and digital creativity.

Nearly 400 young entrepreneurs from 77 countries around the world submitted innovative ICT-based early concepts or mature projects - demonstrating how fresh thinking and talent for technology can provide real-world solutions to real-world problems and change the future for the better.

16.11.11

My WISE! - My Second Call! - Third Summit!

This is my second call at the WISE (World Innovation Summit on Education), an initiative of the Qatar Foundation.
Every year, I have observed, WISE becomes better and better than the previous year, and creates the platform that opens dialogue amongst those who value and hold premium Innovative Education.
At the WISE Summit, this Fall, I listened attentively to the debates and discussions and I heard of how teachers and educators face social and financial levels that are low in the Arab World. This pricked my mind instantaneously. My mind nudged me back to my country, Sierra Leone which still realizes ridiculously low salaries for teachers and lecturers with painfully lower and sometimes irregularly served. These short comings of social and financial status of teachers seem to go across the board and experienced by many countries; even to those countries we deem more affluent. This is indeed a short coming that needs to be addressed and assuaged if we are bent on talking and taking steps in delivering quality and innovative education around the world. We need to bolster the C21st Century learning skills, but in doing so, there needs to be a great incentive for our teachers in terms of improving their status, and financial level. I have experienced this first hand in Sierra Leone where my mum has been a dedicated teacher for over 3 decades, and I sense the pangs of it directly or indirectly through losing out lectures when lecturers have to go on strike due to such lack of incentive. Sadly, this trend still prevails as I realized that Lecturers at the University had to go on strike again on my return to Sierra Leone from the end of 2011 WISE events on November 4th. Back at the WISE debates and forums, this was an issue that was harped upon and well articulated by Dr. Muhammad Faour, who is Senior Associate at the Cornegie Middle East Centre in Lebanon, during his speech at WISE 2011. This Faour believes 'will help in bringing creativity and will allow teachers to upgrade their skills, adapt to different situation and enthusiastic and dedicated about their profession'. "Apart from the working condition of teachers, Faour also identified leadership competence of those in authority such as the Ministries of Education and proper management skills of school Administrators or Principals as amongst the enablers of change in the education system." The delivery method being used is still memorization or lecture based rather than critical thinking and problem solving". He goes on to say that "it is important to promote and develop the C21st century skills or key competent skills in classrooms such as communication in native and foreign languages, basic competence in maths, science and technology, sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, social and civic competence and cultural awareness" he said. The highlights of the 2011 WISE event was the inaugural WISE Prize for Education won by Fazle Hasan Abed of Bangladesh which carried a $500,000 and a gold medal. In recognition of his 40 years career dedicated to alleviation of poverty through education. Her Highness Sheikha Moza noted that "education is a source of power, when we use this power properly and for the right purposes. In accepting the WISE prize for education, Abed said, " I am humbled by such a great recognition, and will like to thank the Qatar Foundation for initiating this magnificent prize, and for honouring me and Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), with its first instalments. I have discovered time and again in my four decades of work with BRAC, that education is the fundamental catalyst for change. Throughout the workshops, forums, and debates, I was thrilled at the fact that these words of Fazle Hasan Abed resonated in the statements and activities of the delegates, as they showcase the divergence of approaches from different countries to help solve difficult solutions through education. I found time to catch up with friends and colleagues I have met in the previous year and the plethora of new friendship through education that WISE and Qatar Foundation have offered. Andrew Benson Greene Founder at B-Gifted Foundation ITU Telecom World Digital Innovator Fellow 2011 (Geneva) Jeanne Sauvé Scholar McGill University 2004/5 (Canada) www.bgiftedfoundation.org