14 May 2019 • Arie Verhoef
‘It’s good to be an agent of change in the African community’
Ewing Amadi Salumu, born and raised in the Congo, is studying Communications at the Hague University of Applied Sciences. He doesn’t like to brag about his activities outside of university. That’s why it came as a complete surprise to many lecturers and students when he was awarded the 2017 Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO Peace Building Award by the ECHO-organisation. As modest as he is, Ewing believes it’s very important to nominate new people.
Few people at university knew of Ewing’s involvement in peace building with people who have fled to the Netherlands from the African continent. The 2017 Peace Building Award jury was very impressed with ‘his work to unite people from different African tribes who now live in the Netherlands. To encourage them to talk about what connects them”.
Ewing: “My goal is to keep the behaviour they learned during the war from repeating itself in the Netherlands. We have to facilitate a process that allows people to process their traumas and develop new behaviours. I hope that these new behaviours can also be exported to the countries where they originated.
In its report, the jury underlined the huge impact of Ewing’s work and the important contribution it provides to creating social cohesion, both nationally and internationally.
Agent of change
Ewing brings people together in the Netherlands who have come from the Great Lake region in Africa. “There is fighting in the region. People there hate each other. They export that hatred to the Netherlands. I like to bring them together for a dialogue. To be an agent of change in the African community in the region around the Hague.”
“I want to show people what will benefit them in the long term. Studying. Looking for a job. Having a family. Making sure you no longer depend on welfare.”
A new perspective
In his modesty, Ewing states that others deserve the award much more than he does. It hasn’t changed anything about his work. “I still do what I was doing in 2017: helping people find a new perspective in their life. The award has motivated me to inspire more people. I now tell people more frequently that I work on peace building”.
“If I am very familiar with the Hague or Leidschendam, where I live? Not that much. I am here mostly to inspire newcomers. To make sure they get ahead in life.”
Ewing Amadi Salumu has a very impressive CV. A journalist in the Congo. Travelled extensively in Europe for work. Had his life threatened. A refugee in the Netherlands. Was able to move on from his refugee status. A student with many social roles. In addition to his studies and volunteer work, Ewing also has a family and works as a programme staff member at Scholars at Risk with UAF, the foundation for refugee students. This non-governmental organisation helps higher educated refugees to find a suitable position. He has assisted researchers who are able to continue their research in the Netherlands.
What does the Peace Building Award add to this long list? “I’m still a student. Once I graduate and start looking for work, I believe this award will certainly increase my opportunities.”
He also notices that as ECHO ambassador he is seen as a role model “I give people ideas. I try to help them succeed in our society. To be successful you have to be sure of your own abilities. If you really believe in that, you will succeed. That’s what I want to motivate people to do and inspire them.”
It’s good to nominate people for the ECHO award. “Lecturers can help non-Western students who are doing good work for others. Offer them the opportunity to help others.”
Personally he is very pleased with the award. “In 2018 I was given the opportunity to attend summer school at the University of California in Los Angeles, all expenses paid. That was wonderful.”
“My goal is to keep the behaviour they learned during the war from repeating itself in the Netherlands. We have to facilitate a process that allows people to process their traumas and develop new behaviours. I hope that these new behaviours can also be exported to the countries where they originated.