The path of leadership growth: Promoting peace initiatives in our communities

Date: 13 November 2023

By Rinku Barnabas Mankhin

In a world brimming with challenges and uncertainties, the importance of strong leadership cannot be overstated. Effective leaders inspire change, foster unity, and drive progress, especially when it comes to promoting peace in our communities. As someone who has been actively engaged in various youth events and peace-building initiatives, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing firsthand how these experiences have transformed me into a more effective leader.

As an Agent of Change, one of the significant milestones in my journey towards leadership growth was my participation in the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs 5th Youth Assembly and 21st General Assembly in Chennai, India, 13-20 September 2023. The assembly brought together delegates and attendees from diverse cultures and backgrounds under the theme “Journeying together as a resilient community: Transforming lives through Vision 2030.” Despite our differences, we shared a common value – the commitment to Meaningful Work aimed at making a positive impact in our communities. This experience laid the foundation for my understanding of the power of unity in the face of common challenges.

Our shared challenges

What became strikingly evident at the assembly was the shared struggles faced by the youth across the Asia and Pacific region. Issues such as mental health challenges, economic stress, peer and family pressure, unemployment, limited educational opportunities, and the looming climate crisis were universally recognised. It became clear that these problems could be effectively addressed through two critical approaches: Creating safe spaces for discussion and personal development and empowering young people to take on leadership roles.

My current volunteer role as a program organiser at the “ICF National Forum of Bangladesh for Conflict Transformation and Promoting Peace” has solidified my belief in the transformative power of youth leadership. I engage in awareness and advocacy-building activities, workshops, and dialogues on conflict and peace issues. Our aim is to equip and empower young people with the skills for conflict transformation and promoting peace, enabling them to create a more peaceful community.

My journey from a participant to a leader in promoting peace has been transformative. We cannot give what we do not have. That is why I myself have to undergo my own process towards change before I could bring change in the life of others. Diverse voices, collaboration, and youth empowerment are crucial in addressing shared challenges.

Inspiring change

As we strive for a more peaceful and inclusive world, young leaders can inspire change by creating safe spaces for dialogue where each one feels they are respected and valued.  Committed leaders are open to learning from others’ perspectives and encourage leadership growth in others. My experiences have honed my leadership skills and set me on the path to a vital role in promoting peace in my community as well as in our society and our world.

Rinku Mankhin is an associate member of the YMCA Birisiri (Bangladesh). He holds a post-graduate degree in Master of Business Studies (MBS) from Ananda Mohan College, Mymensingh under National University. Rinku has been providing volunteer services as a Program organizer at the ICF National Forum of Bangladesh supported by the Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) since 2020. In collaboration with ICF, he and his team have been doing awareness and advocacy-building activities and organizing thematic workshops and community-based dialogue on issues related to Conflict and Peace for the change of inter-religious and social conflicts and the development of peace values at the community level.