Changemaker Spotlight: Bridget Moix
With the launch of our Peace line of patches, we couldn’t be more excited to highlight our newest partnership with an organization that aligns deeply with our own mission and values. The proceeds from this line will benefit Peace Direct, an international peacebuilding organization that collaborates with local changemakers to end the destruction and violence of war. By uplifting the many courageous people who already confront conflicts that tear their homes apart, Peace Direct helps communities around the world establish lasting peace. From their origins in a London basement in 2004, Peace Direct has grown to support peacebuilding efforts in 13 countries, working with 23 local organizations.
To spread awareness of Peace Direct’s widespread impact and innovative approach, we wanted to share some high points from a great conversation we had with the executive director of their U.S. operations, Bridget Moix.
Bridget Moix, Executive Director
Mrs. Moix’s own background emphasizes the experience and vision behind this impactful organization, and we were incredibly grateful to have such a knowledgeable resource for insight into Peace Direct. Through her 20 years working on international conflict issues for influential groups like the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the World Policy Institute, and more, she has accumulated a variety of perspectives and skills that shape her unique approach to peacebuilding.
Q: Could you give us a basic outline of what your organization does?
A: Peace Direct is an international organization that works with local people to stop violent conflict and build lasting peace…Right now we work with partnerships in 13 countries. These are small organizations, often, some are larger, but completely locally led and locally run organizations in places like Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Syria. In some of the most difficult conflict areas, no matter how difficult the situation is, we have always found that there are amazing courageous, local people building peace, helping prevent violence. So, we do our best to partner with them, mobilize resources for them. And then also we advocate with policy makers at the UN and the US and UK, to change the way the international peace building done, to actually let local people decide how they want to build peace in their communities.
Q: What are some examples of what this local peacebuilding actually looks like?
A: Some of our longest partnerships are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If you go to Eastern Congo, it’s really an area that has been forgotten. There’s literally hundreds of armed groups, communities that don’t have access to justice or government systems. There are local groups there, and we’ve worked with a number of them. There’s an organization called Centre Resolution Conflits that we’ve worked with for a long time, and they have very deep relationships in the communities. They have become a trusted source for helping to rescue child soldiers and also support former combatants who are leaving armed groups to help them reintegrate with communities. That helps break cycles of recruitment, it helps communities recover. It’s a lot of work with the individuals, helping them reintegrate after sometimes a life in the bush, or helping children who may have had no experience except war. And then we need to help the communities. How do they accept and help reintegrate people who maybe have killed their neighbors?
Photo by Greg Funnell
Q: Why did your organization choose to focus on the ground-up, local peacebuilding strategy?
A: We've really believed local civil society is the largest untapped source for peace in the world. That's because the way that conflict has been dealt with and the way that these processes usually have been run has been very externally driven or top-down. Research and experience show again and again that these processes don't hold if you don't have the buy-in of the population, if you don't have a healthy civil society that is helping to hold governments accountable, helping to create political processes that are nonviolent avenues for managing conflict in any society. Local peacebuilders are the very people who are most impacted in conflict and war. They're the ones who should be at the center of solutions. They have the experience, they know what's needed, but they're often marginalized… The missing piece is that local level: it's more durable. It's going to last long there's peace agreements, or just in sort of sustaining peace over the long-term is way more durable than. Internationals trying to, you know, fly in and solve problems and it's way less expensive, you know, and you don't have to send military the U S military everywhere to try to solve problems that frankly, they, you know, they don't necessarily want to be in the middle of. It’s more effective, less costly, more durable and it's more principled, right? It's local people solving their own problems.
Q: On a more broad level view of things with the idea of reemphasizing local communities, it seems like that’s been a movement with many aspects of society, like eat local, buy local, or with Outpatch how you give locally when you travel. So why do you think there’s been such a resurgence in this emphasis on local places?
A: With the local movement, it’s like the counter reaction to the negative things of globalization. There's a lot of positive things about globalization and how much more connected we are as a global community, but there’s also the amount of power and wealth that's become concentrated in international corporations, in a global elite that's disconnected from local communities… I think also it’s because of our chaotic world where we feel more and more disconnected from people in a way. It's strange because you're more connected digitally but somehow with actual relationships, you lose that connection. So I think with the local thing, it’s like let's refocus. And let's remember that, you know, everything is local. We live in a world that’s local and global.
Q: What was your initial reaction when you were approached by Outpatch for the collaboration?
A: We're always excited, of course, when people approach us and want to fundraise for our partners and provide support to them, but also we had not yet partnered with a group that’s (vets)? oriented and we were excited. For a number of years now, I have been really trying to figure out how does the peace building community connect more with the military and veterans community. We work with local communities who are on the front lines and we understand why they are working for peace, which is that they have experienced war. And I think military and vets, they also get it. Let's invest more in preventing wars, reducing the amount of deployment soldiers have to go on, actually building a secure and safe community and global world. That’s what military and vets sign up for. So I love this idea because to me, it was like I had an opportunity to try to build a bridge, to engage and learn and see what we can do together, to support this common cause that we have.
Q: How can the rest of us get involved in peace building as average people? What can we do in our daily lives to support peacebuilding efforts?
A: We really believe that peacebuilding isn't something that just happens in a war zone far away; It's actually something that we need to be doing every day in our life. How do we deal with conflict without resorting to violence, without resorting to dehumanizing other people? How do we talk to people? Here in the US, average people can barely talk to each other right now, if you not from the same political party or you are on different sides of an election. That's a real deep problem in our country right now. So even talking to that family member who disagrees with you, trying to figure out how do we make sure that we can have a dialogue around what we disagree about instead of refusing to talk to one another. How do we see someone else's perspective and try to find some common understanding? That’s peace building- it’s an everyday activity. On a practical level (with Peace Direct), we have an email list, a peacebuilder allies program, a student engagement program, so if you want to engage particularly with Peace Direct there’s a lot of opportunities to do that.