GRG was deeply honored by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the BMW Group with the Intercultural Innovation Award, during the ceremony held on December 11, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. The selection process was highly competitive, with over 1,200 applications from 128 countries, with GRG taking 2nd place. Our selected project was the “Child Soldier Reintegration” project, which helps traumatized and stigmatized former child soldiers reconcile with war-affected communities in northern Uganda through a range of innovative initiatives, including peacebuilding programs and trauma counseling.
“GRG is honored to be recognized for its work towards building long-lasting peace and reconciliation through inclusive dialogue and collaboration,” said GRG Country Director Magdalen Amony.
GRG Founding Director Sasha Lezhnev added, “It is heartening to see that our unique model of economic peacebuilding and trauma counseling projects to help former child soldiers reintegrate is being recognized at a global level. We hope to expand these projects to new areas, so that more communities with deep war trauma and conflicts can begin to heal.”
The “Child Soldier Reintegration” project provides a forum for former child soldiers and war-affected communities to exchange and hear one another’s voices to re-establish a sense of community and trust. GRG’s first group projects resulted in 95 percent of participants reporting improved relationships between Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) combatants and community members, as well as 91 percent improved relationships with the broader community.
The Intercultural Innovation Award supports grassroots initiatives that promote intercultural dialogue and understanding, thereby contributing to peace, cultural diversity, and more inclusive societies. The Awards Ceremony was chaired by the High Representative for UNAOC and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, H.E. Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos, and Mr. Bill McAndrews, Vice President Market Communications at BMW Group.
In addition to a financial grant, GRG will receive capacity-building and mentorship support from UNAOC and the BMW Group to help the “Child Soldier Reintegration” project expand and replicate to other contexts. This model of collaboration between the United Nations and the private sector creates a more profound impact, as both partners provide their respective expertise to ensure the sustainable growth of each project.