SI4DEV Makurdi Advocates for Peace in Benue State with Facing Difference Challenge

The Facing Difference Challenge is aimed at engaging young people for peace while raising money for NGOs working in areas that have conflict, Nigeria included.

Makurdi, Nigeria, May 11, 2018 --( The Facing Difference challenge activity took place on 3rd May 2018 at the Trinity Model Academy in Makurdi, Benue State, and was coordinated by SI4DEV Partners who engaged students from 10-16 years old in making art for peace.

In recent months, Benue State, Nigeria, has been the location of incessant attacks of rural villages by unidentified cattle herdsmen, leading to hundreds of deaths in local communities and the destruction of farmland and other properties.

Many men, women and children have been forced away from their homes and have had to settle in ill-equipped Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camps, suffering loss and grief and probably nursing distrust, hate and revenge against their perceived enemies.

It is on this premise that Strategy and Innovation for Development Initiative (SI4DEV) joined forces with Students Rebuild and children worldwide in the "Facing Difference Challenge," to advocate for peace in the area and provide tools for local students to work through their trauma in a healthy way.

At the end of the project, a total of 26 meaningful self-portraits were produced that reflect the artist’s sense of who they are as peace advocates.

“The facing difference challenge is an opportunity for young people to be empowered with knowledge that will help them advocate for peace even with people different from them. They also get to express their creativity and talent through an art project that involves drawing a portrait of their own face,” said Nkem Akinsoto, Executive Director of SI4DEV.

Through the Facing Difference Challenge, SI4DEV provided a platform and a time for the children who participated to reflect and understand the concepts of empathy, forgiveness and peace.

Emmanuella Ikomon, lead partner in Makurdi, and coordinator of the challenge revealed that the students also learned about identity and about global peers who were taking part in the challenge. Their portraits were submitted to Students Rebuild and have contributed the sum of $78 (each multiplied by $3) to help support peace-building programs all over the world.

The funding for the portraits submitted comes from the Bezos Foundation—up to $600,000. Selected portraits will also be exhibited in museums and several high-profile locations around the world. One week before the end of the challenge, Students Rebuild announced that more than 780 teams in 34 countries had registered to participate and over 120,000 portraits had been submitted thereby generating at least $360,000.

“It is noteworthy that some of the funds raised will go to Search for Common Ground, which is working in Nigeria to bring together boys and girls from different faiths to train them in leadership, diversity and conflict resolution,” added Nkem Akinsoto, who also manages the SI4DEV Partner Program.

About SI4DEV: SI4DEV is committed to empowering community leaders who are working towards a future where everyone has fair access to the resources and opportunities needed to achieve their full potential. SI4DEV has partners in 25 states in Nigeria, who execute projects to bring about Enhanced Care, Quality Education, Economic Development and Good Governance. SI4DEV is an affiliate organization of the Spring Development Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in the United States. (

About Students Rebuild: Students Rebuild is a collaborative program created in January 2010 to initiate challenges that require young people to create simple, symbolic objects, which the Bezos Foundation matches with funding. This approach allows students of all ages, backgrounds, and in countries around the world to take action and seek change on global concerns. (
Nkem Akinsoto