Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Crafting Empowerment

Project #
Earlham College
  • Lailul Ikram

Crafting Empowerment

Aceh is an Indonesian territory on the northern tip of Sumatra that rebelled against Indonesian rule for almost three decades of death and devastation. Aceh is also the nearest landmass to the epicenter of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake that triggered a massive tsunami, destroyed much of the area, and resulted in the loss of life in the hundreds of thousands. While peace was negotiated with Indonesia following the tsunami, there remain undercurrents of rebellion. Lailul Ikram’s project envisioned a better chance for future peace through working with women in the community.

Lailul grew up in Aceh, so he knew that many women in his community were members of the rebellion. Many of them were widowed by the conflict or by the tsunami, and had limited ways to support their families. Lailul knew that poverty and hopelessness might lead these women back to the rebellion and that peace in his region would be threatened.

Lailul used his Projects for Peace grant and funds from the local government to build an arts center that serves as a training site for traditional Acehnese arts that have a wide appeal throughout Indonesia. He is marketing these handmade goods in Jakarta and elsewhere. One of Lailul’s biggest challenges was that while he expected up to 100 women to be interested in his project, in fact over 500 women applied for consideration. His dream is that this arts center will not only be successful, but that it will be duplicated in other areas of Aceh and the resulting relative prosperity will have a positive impact on peace in the region.