I wish I could photograph the faces of people the moment they learn I grew up with 14 siblings and a horde of exchange students. My parents adopted my brother and me when I was about 9 years old. We grew up in an old school on the outskirts of Russellville, Arkansas. Great adventure and grace filled our home and my childhood. Over 20 years later I found myself performing photographic services to advertising agencies, architecture firms, companies, and other clients. It has been a great journey to find the tools that I have been given to help others whether it was for an ad campaign or a non-profit photo assignment. Through doing so, I have had the honor of gaining great friends whom I have gotten to know over the years.
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Growing up on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, I have been freshly transplanted to Boston and am spreading my roots. Photography has been a long-time passion of mine and is a constant reminder to take back roads, walk slowly and be mindful. Additionally, photography has the rare ability to capture the delicate strands of complex emotional and situational environs in a beautiful and profound way.
With experience in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey I am passionate about creative contributions to education, resources, and development in conflict and post-conflict regions. I hold a BA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Islamic Studies and International Relations from the University of Washington and speak Arabic proficiently.
Jonas Benjamin Brunschwig
I join Peace in Focus with little experience in either photography and creative conflict resolution, but with a broad global perspective forged by living in Switzerland, Egypt, Argentina and the United States, in what feels like a natural step in the development of my persona. I consider my life my opus magnum so I carefully select each influence, mindful of my personal mission to work on serving a higher purpose. This has led me to transcend my interest for the institutional life of diplomacy, at the expense of a more meaningful and participatory experience. I expect my work with Peace in Focus to reap exponential growth in my future endeavors and I look forward to humbly learn from the team as well as from the many workshop participants in order to help the organization grow.
My nickname is Musore. I’m Burundian. Burundi, my country, is very poor and has been affected by a civil war since 1993. I recently finished my studies at the public university in the Faculty of Arts and Social sciences, the department of English language and literature. I’m also a member and Deputy Chairman of the non-profit youth association called Jamaa, which means “Friends” in Swahili. We work to strengthen peace and stability in our community, and our strategy is to focus on a variety of issues that must be addressed if peace, stability, and development are to prevail. In spite of the obstacles mentioned above, we strive to do our best and our partnership with Peace in Focus has strengthened our vision. I believe, and hope, that we shall overcome, because where there is a will, there is always a way. So join us and let’s build a peaceful world!
I am the oldest son in a family of seven children. I was born in Burundi to a Burundian father and a Burundian mother. I am journalist, and I have been working for peace and reconciliation since 1997. There are numerous achievements with this work; some of the most important among them is the training of youth, the reintegration of former combatants, the education of youth organizers in peace and reconciliation, the construction of houses for indigenous groups (the Twa tribe in Burundi), raising awareness of repatriation in refugee camps, advocacy against using children as soldiers, as well as peace and sport journalism.
I was Vice President of the Burundian non-profit organization Jamaa. As a journalist and the head of Jamaa Info, the monthly newspaper for Burundian youth, I report on national and international news, and I had the opportunity to cover first-hand the conflicts in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. Additionally, I serve as a trainer in peace photojournalism for underprivileged Burundian youth through joint Peace in Focus/Jamaa projects. Right now, I am the Director of Publications of Jamaa Info and Akarusho +. As a result of my experience with conflict and peaceful conflict resolution, my desire is to participate in peace education because it lies at the core of everything.
I aspire to help young people discover their potential and realize happiness through human-centered education. In 2010, I introduced the Public Debate Program as a tool for youth empowerment through a pilot project with the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) in Uganda and Kenya. After graduating from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor's degree in International Relations, I have returned to Uganda to strengthen and expand the debate program. I will work in partnership with FAWE to introduce the program to schools in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania. I am honored to collaborate with Peace in Focus and Jamaa to empower Burundian youth.
Boston Program Facilitator
I work with organizations to create holistic communications and organizing strategies for integrating participatory media and digital storytelling tools into educational, advocacy, and development projects. As a media consultant, I have worked as an after-school youth media facilitator, and curriculum developer, supporting Peace in Focus as well as MassIMPACT, the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club Computer Clubhouse, StoriesforChange.net, and as an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer at UMass Boston’s Transmission Project. In 2009 I graduated as a Master in City Planning from MIT, and continue to partner with MIT@Lawrence and the Center for Future Civic Media. All this comes together on my blog: VerdeSmoke.com.
More about me: I VALUE VOICE...individual, authentic, unrestrained, equal and celebrated. I VALUE CHANGE...making some sort of impact...using my hands and my brains and a camera…and probably some geeky homegrown tools. I VALUE COMMUNITY…deep in it...on the ground...surrounded by that dynamic noise of the personalities who value the same things I do.
Gabe Ruane is a freelance graphic designer/art director living in San Francisco, California. His time is split between client work and a slew of client-free and profit-less side projects in design, art, architecture, technology and culture. Gabe's involvement with Peace in Focus began as the designer of this very website, and will continue in many ways big and small in the future.
Youth Development Consultant
Maanav Thakore is a second generation Indian American whose life work is devoted to shifting dominant paradigms side-by-side with young people. He has worked as a youth organizer in jails, schools, community organizations, and on the street. He has lived, worked, and learned in all corners of the country and has always been led by his heart. He currently works as the National Mentoring Manager with YouthBuild USA. It is his sincere belief that all social change must begin within. A resident of Dorchester, he also does field work on political campaigns and is a working musician and deejay.
‘I was in the middle,’ recalls Adrien Tuyaga. ‘Each side wanted me to join them and participate in the violence. I thought I would be killing my mother if I joined the Hutus and betraying my father if I joined the Tutsis. This is how I started to think of ways to pull people together.’ Born in 1966 to a Tutsi mother and a Hutu father, Adrien has spent his entire life working to overcome ethnic divisionism in Burundi. In 1994, the year after President Melchior Ndadaye was assassinated, Tuyaga founded Jamaa in an effort to organize youth leaders to join a movement of peace and reconciliation in Burundi. Through dialogues, sporting events, and cultural displays, Jamaa succeeded at raising awareness in Burundi of the need for inter-ethnic harmony, respect, and solidarity among Burundi’s younger generation. Since 2008, Adrien and Jamaa have partnered with Peace in Focus to implement creative conflict transformation programs for Burundi’s underprivileged youth population.
Jamaa is a Burundian non-profit association founded in 1994 by Adrien Tuyaga and Abdoul Niyungeko in order to build peace and relationships between warring factions in Burundi. Among its long list of innovative peacebuilding programs, Jamaa has facilitated dialogue between youth leaders on both sides of the conflict through football matches, joint retreats, dialogue sessions, community marketing campaigns, and trauma counseling. In 1999, the “Gardons Contact” (Let’s Keep in Touch) initiative was launched by Jamaa to facilitate healthy relationships and regular contact between former adversarial youth groups. In 2008, Jamaa and Peace in Focus formed a partnership to bring together Burundi’s vulnerable youth population in an effort to promote solidarity, creative peacebuilding, and community leadership. Among our past and current participants are former child soldiers, orphans of HIV/AIDS and the war, refugees, internally displaced, and under-served youth of all backgrounds. Alumni of our Burundi programs have launched a monthly youth peace journal, entitled “Akarusho +,” and continue to design and implement innovative community peacebuilding projects, including a youth-led radio station in Bujumbura.
Roots & Shoots engages and inspires youth through community service and service learning. Founded by Dr. Jane Goodall in Tanzania in 1991, today Roots & Shoots has tens of thousands of members in nearly 100 countries, all working on local and global community service projects. The Roots & Shoots program is about making positive change happen—for our communities, for animals and for the environment. Young people identify problems in their communities and take action. Through service projects, youth-led campaigns and an interactive website, Roots & Shoots members are making a difference across the globe. Roots & Shoots and Peace in Focus have been collaborating since 2009.
The Sells Agency is an Arkansas-based full-service advertising, marketing, and public relations firm. Since 2008, the team at Sells Agency has collaborated with Peace in Focus on logo design, program marketing, and organizational identity.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
– Albert Einstein