Liberian Peace Educator and Social Justice Activist in South Korea: Edison De-Conti Toe
Edison De-Conti Toe is a peace educator and social justice activist. He is the founder and executive director of Visionary Youth Empowerment-Liberia, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization aimed at supporting underprivileged children in marginalized communities through peace building and early childhood education.
Edison’s current work focuses heavily on peace building and social justice advocacy. “My career objective is to find opportunities and platforms that will enable me to develop and enhance my skills, knowledge and competency so as to effect positive change in my community,” he explains.
On October 22, 2017, Edison embarked on a journey from his home country Liberia to South Korea, where the United Methodist Church has given him the opportunity to serve as a peace educator and to do experiential learning in peacemaking at Border Peace School in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) of Korea.
At Border Peace School, Edison assists with planning and organizing of workshops and seminars for youth in the border towns and villages along the DMZ. His work also involves promoting peace and non-violence for the peaceful reunification of the Korea Peninsula through newsletters and social media campaigns, to create awareness with regard to Korean and world peace.
Korea was divided by a war that lasted for three years, killing over 2 million people including civilians and soldiers. On July 27, 1953, an armistice was signed which established the Korean DMZ as the de facto border between North and South, and brought into force a cease-fire. While it is true that the two nations have managed to avoid clashes over the years, a formal peace agreement still needs to be signed in order to end the Korean War.
On April 27, 2019, Edison had the opportunity to participate in the Korea DMZ People’s Peace Chain Movement, which was prepared by Border Peace School in collaboration with other groups. “The event brought together peace activists, civil society and religious leaders and thousands of South Koreans of all ages who dream of peace and reunification,” he says. “They formed a chain, hand in hand, facing the border between the South and the North, to express their hopes and aspirations for peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The purpose of the People’s Hand-in-Hand Peace Chain was to awaken and persuade world leaders to promote speedy, peaceful dialogue between the United States and North Korea, the signing of a peace agreement to end the Korean War, and the removal of the sanctions currently restricting North Korea.
“I strongly believe that the use of sanctions is an old strategy which has never yielded good results. It doesn’t help those it was intended to help. Oftentimes it favors the elites. We need to move away from this type of strategy, and resolve problems through peaceful dialogue.”
Edison has this message for world leaders: “As a peace educator and social justice activist, I want to call on the United Nations and the European Union to find a way forward for peace in Korea and in other countries that are suffering from conflict and violence.”