This article originally appeared on the University of Richmond’s “Fellowships” page.
Every summer, Davis Projects for Peace awards $10,000 grants to college students to promote peace anywhere in the world. The grants are part of philanthropist Katherine W. Davis’ vision for building sustainable peace and transforming conflict. This summer, two recent University of Richmond graduates completed projects for peace. Ngan Bui, ’23, helped to educate Cambodian communities to fight human trafficking, while Richmond Scholar Elspeth Collard, ’23, worked to install Predator Peace Lights in the Maasai region of Kenya.
Ngan’s Project for Peace reached over 450 community members in the Cambodian cities of Poipet, Battambang, Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap. She worked with eight different NGOs in the country, providing them with plans, materials, curriculum, and guidance for these anti-trafficking workshops. Ngan also coordinated the scheduling and logistics for the workshops, working with the organizations to maximize the number of local people who would be reached. In the interest of making the sessions as effective and culturally appropriate as possible, Ngan trained representatives from the NGOs to facilitate the workshops.
Ngan also created prevention care packages, which were distributed to all workshop participants. The care packages included informational comic books from partner organization A21 Cambodia, a pen with the phone number for the human trafficking hotline, an “End Human Trafficking” water bottle, and a folder with a safety guide for reference after the workshop. Also included was a copy of a Cambodian comic book called Phea’s Dream, which addresses the issue of human trafficking in a way that is accessible to youth. Ngan worked with the book’s designer and distributer to get permission to print and distribute it. Ngan is proud to have contributed to the larger project of prevention education, which she sees as “an idea worth spreading until every individual understands the complexity of human trafficking.”
Elspeth, who partnered with Gonzaga University graduate Joy Oakes, gained inspiration for their Project for Peace while they were studying abroad in the Amboseli region of Kenya. While in the region, they became aware of a conflict between Maasai pastoralists, who rely on livestock for their livelihoods, and local predators such as lions, who often attack the pastoralists’ livestock. Unfortunately, this often leads to the killing of the predators, which hampers conservation efforts in the area. Elspeth and Joy had the opportunity to interview locals about their thoughts on the human-wildlife conflict and conservation efforts. These perspectives informed the way they approached their peace-making efforts.
The main objective of Elspeth and Joy’s project was to install solar-powered predator deterrent lights (PDLs), which are designed to prevent attacks on livestock, mitigating the conflict at its source. To do this, they partnered with Born Free, a non-governmental organization (NGO) local to the Amboseli region. Together, they developed schematics, ordered materials, and installed the lights. The project was very well received by the local community. Elspeth said it “was incredibly rewarding to see the Predator Peace Lights project welcomed with such excitement by the Maasai pastoralist community, particularly after hearing many stories from them of the ever-increasing impact of human-wildlife conflict on their livelihoods.”