Spreading a message of “You can do it!” all around the world, peacebuilding practitioner Helena Puig Larrauri facilitates projects through technology – from filmmaking on the Sudan-South Sudan border to polling think tanks in Somalia. When it comes to tech, the Valenciana doesn’t want people to be scared to be amateurs: “Face the future. Believe you can do it and get to it.” Over a cup of tea in Barcelona, she transports us across divides from Cyprus to Kenya via rapping Palestinian girls.


1. Turning Tables New York, US

Turning Tables

Rapping about rights

“Can you rap about human rights? Make hip hop on good governance? DJ your way to peace? Turning Tables thinks we can, and have set up DJ and music labs in the most unlikely places to work with young people on peace-building and social change messages. From refugee camps in Lebanon to post-Arab Spring Tunisia to divided Myanmar, young people from different backgrounds gather around turning tables and find their voices and common ground in music.”


2. Peace Factory Tel Aviv, Israel

Photo by Yoray Liberman

Viral love in the MIddle East

“A few years ago, Tel Aviv-based Ronny Edry posted on Facebook declaring his love for Iranians. He’d had enough of divisive rhetoric from Israeli and Iranian politicians, and was pretty sure Israeli and Iranian people could like each other. That post got tens of thousands of likes, and was the spark for the Peace Factory, which runs peace ‘marketing’ and ‘friending’ campaigns on Facebook across conflict divides in the Middle East.”


3. Una Hakika Tana Delta, Kenya


The wicked rumour hotline

“Una Hakika uses a combination of SMS reports, community meetings and drone-enabled verification meetings to clarify rumours about conflict in the Tana Delta. The project was set up with the belief that there is a clear link between misinformation and escalation of conflict. To my eyes, this is the best kind of peacetech project: ingenious, well grounded in local realities and with a clear objective. They just published their first evaluation, well worth reading.”


4. Hands-on Famagusta Famagusta, Cyprus

handson famagusta

Build your own Cypriot city

“Hands-on Famagusta uses participatory urban design to facilitate dialogue about the future of Famagusta – a city divided between Turkish Cyprus and Greek Cyprus. The video for their interactive web platform, which allows you to create your own ‘imaginary Famagusta’ tells participants: ‘you have dreams when all around you are losing theirs’. It’s a challenge to conflict through the public imagination!”


5. Soliya’s Connect Program New York, US

Widening the world

Widening the world

“Cross-cultural student exchanges are often transformational, expanding the horizons of participants and deepening their understanding of differences and similarities across cultures. Soliya was founded on the belief that if every student had access to such a profound experience, we would all live in a more peaceful world. Recognising that in-person exchanges are expensive and often inaccessible to students with lower incomes, Soliya runs virtual exchanges in more than 100 universities across 28 countries.”


Helena is co-organiser of Build Peace and co-founder of Build Up. Read about their projects hereHer full FutureHero interview with Atlas Editor Lisa Goldapple is coming soon.