Ayouba Orou Gounou Guene

2024 IVLP Impact Award Project: Building Community Resilience Through Positive Interpretations of ReligionBenin

Ayouba Orou Gounou Guene is a 29-year-old activist from Segbana in the Alibori department of Benin. He focuses on peace issues, social cohesion, and gender equality. Specifically, he advocates for the sexual and reproductive health rights of adolescents. After graduating from high school, he studied Public Law in the Law, Political Science and International Relations Department at the University of Parakou. Ayouba then joined forces with other youth leaders to create the Barika Association, where he serves as president.  

Ayouba utilizes social media networks to carry out campaigns focused on peace promotion and social cohesion. These include training young emerging leaders in sensitive communication skills and the fight against disinformation. He has implemented community dialogue on the prevention of inter-community conflicts, defending the rights of girls, women and young people through advocacy, awareness-raising, intergenerational dialogues, digital campaigns, and thematic radio programs, also working to combat forced and/or early marriage of girls, female genital mutilation and all forms of gender-based violence.  

IVLP Impact Award Project: Building Community Resilience Through Positive Interpretations of Religion 

Ayouba’s project strengthens community members’ resilience at grassroots level in the face of recruitment strategies by violent extremist organizations. The project’s goal is to prevent radicalization of communities by countering false discourse and influence. 

Project activities will include information dissemination for authorities and various stakeholders; training workshops for youth and religious leaders on counter discourse to the rhetoric of violent extremist organizations; and radio programs focused on re-reading and positive interpretation of Quranic verses,
broadcast on 10 targeted community radio stations.  

“Let's work with communities at [the] grassroots level, because they can be real levers of resilience by strengthening their capacities to become actors in prevention, in support of the State's efforts.” - Ayouba Orou Gounou Guene 

IVLP Exchange Experience  

Ayouba participated in the IVLP Project Countering Violent Extremism - Community Strategies, organized by the U.S. Department of State and Cultural Vistas in partnership with Global Ties Alabama, Presidential Precinct, San Antonio Council for International Visitors, and San Diego Council for International Visitors.  

Ayouba’s exchange experience led to the creation of his project: “At the Department of State, I... took part in a conference on the community-based approach to countering violent extremism. During the conference, we were shown a video of unidentified armed groups using religious misinterpretations to kill innocent people and recruit new allies. I was inspired by this screening and by the various conferences to initiate actions to counter the rhetoric of violent extremist organizations through a positive interpretation of religion. I intend to build my project to engage and strengthen the resilience of my community in the face of threats from violent extremist organizations based on the lessons I learned during my trip.”

“During my trip as part of the IVLP... I had many very inspiring experiences. These included the RUMI Forum on the theme of deradicalization through positive interpretation of religion. ... through my participation in the IVLP program, I was able to relate the intervention approaches used in the United States... to Benin and draw conclusions in the form of actions. This inspired my idea for the IVLP Impact Award project.” - Ayouba Orou Gounou Guene 

U.S. Communities Visited 

Birmingham, AL; San Diego, CA; Washington, DC; San Antonio, TX; Charlottesville, VA 

Country: Benin 

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