Peace by Piece
Originally Mohammed Khader created the idea of Peace by Piece regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Khader wanted to create sustainable peace in Palestine and resolve the conflict in hopes of connecting people across the lines to create peace. As he began to read and acquire more knowledge, he decided to stay true to his original intention with the project but also wanted to expand his concept.
Instead of focusing on one particular conflict that to him means a lot to be brought to an end, he wanted to connect all youth around the world that were affected by conflict and assist efforts of achieving sustainable peace around the world. This transition kept his original intention but grew to encompass all who are affected. The youth around the world being the "piece" and what we hope to achieve is peace.
The effort has seen the connection of youth together meeting at the UN for conferences and discussing their cause with high level officials.
The objectives of Khader's original effort was to connect youth around the Palestinian Territories and Israel to create a dialogue across borders to create a means of understanding, in hope of creating a sustainable peace process. Now he transitioned his original idea from the one particular conflict to different regions of the world to reach all youth. Now his goal is to gather youth who want peace in their regions and create initiatives and projects that are unique to their cultural landscape and allow for the fostering of understanding.
Another goal is to have the voices of the oppressed heard.
Another objective is to bring youth to the negotiation table.
The last objective is to inspire other youth to follow their dreams.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
Mohammed attends meetings at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, when he is not in class to speak for the oppressed populations of children and youth and gives their perspective to those who are unaware or are not informed on the issue.
Khader has also found success in networking with other youth from conflicted regions like Kashmir and Jammu, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and such. He has gathered what they define peace as and how they think it can be brought to their unique regions.
For his original cause, he has stayed true to that. He has met with the Special Envoy on Youth at the UN and is furthering talks with him to create a program for Palestinian youth that would become a program that would span across all conflict regions.
Getting youth to the negotiation table is hard as people discredit their efforts. He has met with high level officials and has discussed this matter. He has shown youth should be there.
Originally the main objective and focus was to create sustainable peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since youth are the most affected populations in the conflict he felt that as a youth that something should be done about it. Later on Khader decided that other youth around the world that are situated in conflict and post conflict regions are being affected the same way as Palestinians and Israelis are.
So he decided to alter his focus to encompass the global population of youth in conflict regions. Khader presented this idea to his Diplomacy professor during his first semester in university and she was impressed with his vision and motivation. Also, he defined this as a nonviolent effort to create sustainable peace.
Since the creation Khader has had the opportunity to represent African youth, Palestinian youth, and oppressed youth at the UN in official high level meetings as a result of his campaign. He attended the SDG Conference at the UN and has joined the United Nations Major Group on Children and Youth.
Khader has had the opportunity to meet several other youth who are motivated to bring peace back to their regions where conflict has created a sense of uncertainty. He has become friends with people from Nigeria, Jammu and Kashmir, Syria, Iran, and other places who share his same aspirations.
His efforts have also slowed him to meet and sit with two Holocaust survivors as well as survivors from the Sbrenicia massacre, Rwandan Genocide, and Syria. He told them about his efforts and how originally the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is what motivated him. They were both pleased to here that he wanted to end he conflict and bring peace and they shared to him their stories and offered advice.
Khader's biggest challenge was around August of 2014 just a few months after he created his efforts. There had been a 51 day assault on Gaza, killing a mass of Palestinians and he had been drained. It was Ramadan for him and seeing this made him very feel down. His effort was recently created and seeing what had happened he was unsure of next steps.
Another challenge Mohammed faces is the reality and nature of the conflict. Regardless of his efforts to stress the nonviolent approach he has learned from Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., many are still critical of the conflict.
A further challenge he ran into was how to present his efforts publicly. Since Khader lives in the U.S. many are critical of the conflict and typically side with Israel regardless of whatever effort anyone wants to present.
Also, as people are critical of the conflict it is hard to gain support or funding. As a college student it is hard to fund the project independently.
Khader told me he has learned that expecting peace to be delivered by his effort should not be expected overnight. The issues he is dealing with have been going on for nearly a century. He has said that he learns from what has been tried, what has failed, and what they thought would work whenever he analyzes a conflict.
He also learnt that the language barrier can be broken with common interest like video games and sports that youth share.
Khader has shown dedication and tells me everyday something new he learned or read. I have seen him grow from this effort. He had a speech impediment when he was younger but now seeing him speak at the UN he can command a room and knows how to relate to others who may not share any commonalities with him.
This effort has also taught him to remain humble. When he met a girl from Columbia and a male from Cuba one thing that came out was that being humble can allow youth to connect rather than to become divided.