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Stories From the Field

Stories From the Field

Every day, leaders within URI's global Cooperation Circle network work passionately and tirelessly to build peace in their communities. Here are some examples of such people - people who have made it their lives' work to heal the wounds of violence, mend the rift between religious groups, challenge cultural conflict...and change the world for the better.

During the early years of the Iraq War, Janessa Wilder was working as policy analyst for the CIA in Baghdad.  She recounts, “I was just a few miles away from the battles in Fallujah, sitting along the Euphrates River. I was so struck by the picture of calm and peace of the river. I realized that the life-force of the river was more powerful than the war going on. I decided then and there to make a change.” Janessa left the CIA, came back to the US and started the Euphrates Institute, whose goal is to bring warring religions together in down-to-earth conversations to address shared community issues.

Dr. Emmanuel Ivorgba dreams of “a peaceful world, one in which the smiles of humanity shine brighter than the sun itself.” In his native Nigeria, years of longstanding religious and tribal violence fueled by political strife and economic inequities have claimed thousands of lives and torn the fabric of society. Emmanuel has planted himself squarely in the epicenter of that violence, in northern Nigeria, to sow the seeds of peace between Christians and Muslims, Igbo and Hausa, rich and poor, farmer and herder, man and woman. Emmanuel leads URI's interfaith peacebuilding efforts not only in Nigeria but across West Africa, where he is equipping and creating rare opportunities for youth from different religious and cultural backgrounds to engage and powerful build partnerships with one another that bring real hope for breaking the cycle of violence and transforming conflict into cooperation and harmony. 


Watch MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH: An Interfaith Christmas Special to find out more about Janessa's and Emmanuel's work