Since she was 17, Myla Leguro has been engaged in peacebuilding in her native Mindanao, the Philippines, where the roots of conflict between rival indigenous, Muslim, and Christian groups extend back over 100 years.
In two decades of work with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Myla has helped forge peaceful relationships among these groups and with the government in Manila.
"I was born here, I studied here, this is home," says Myla, Catholic Relief Services' peace and reconciliation senior program manager for the Philippines. "My work as a peacebuilder began with an awareness that I needed to participate fully in changing the situation"
After working with local farmers on agricultural development projects for several years, Myla led the development of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute in 2000. The Institute brings together grassroots leaders from nearly 20 conflict-affected nations, primarily from the Asia-Pacific region, for human rights education and training in peacebuilding.
In 2006, Myla temporarily left her Catholic Relief Services post to spend three months as a CRS-Kroc Institute visiting fellow. She returned to the Kroc Institute as a full-time master's student in 2008.
"My time at the Kroc Institute was a chance to step back, reflect on my work, and learn how to make my practice more effective," Myla says. "Having been exposed to the rigors of research, I can help communities develop indicators to measure their peacebuilding efforts"
Myla shares this advice with aspiring peacebuilders: "Peacebuilding can be a decades-long process," she says. "You have to appreciate small victories, cultivate the aptitude for creating relationships, and have the commitment to stay in it for the long haul"