This week’s Guest Preventer on the AIPR blog is Daniel J. Gerstle:

Inspired by my experience as a former humanitarian aid worker and rights advocate, I now produce creative humanitarian media about how people survive war, disaster, and other extreme adversity. Part of my work is documenting the story of local and traditional violence prevention initiatives in war zones, which are often ignored by the press and left out of peace negotiations.

There are tremendous fears that the vastly different claims on where Sudan’s north–south border might lie, along with the threat of more violence in Darfur and growing rebellion in the Nile valley, will continue to threaten peace in central Africa and lead to more violence for years to come. What can a regular person living around the world do to stop it?

As founder and editor of HELO Magazine, a new organization that produces creative humanitarian media by, for, and about aid workers, rights advocates, refugees, and musicians who support them, I’ve gathered a team ready to answer this question.

Darfuri reconciliation expert Suliman Giddo, filmmaker Lucas Gath (Sins of My Father,, photographers Brendan Bannon, Michael Marquand, and Ala Kheir, motion graphics artist Ruslan Shukurov, musician alSarah, students at Ahfad University for Women in Khartoum, and many more are staged to help HELO create a visually stunning, interactive, virtual Sudan in which we will place short films that document local violence prevention initiatives along the frontlines. Each short film found within the virtual Sudan will offer a menu of options that viewers can take to act on what they saw: debate, donate, sign a petition, plan a trip, and potentially correspond with the people involved in the initiative.

We’re in the fundraising stage for traveling to Sudan to complete filming right now. The formal online fundraising campaign begins in the next weeks, but in the meantime we would love for people to help us cover the costs of travel and production by checking out our new Sudan Mosaic Video Teaser and reading the instructions below it which explain how to support our cause. You can also check out the other literary journalism, opinions, culture, and music stories we offer on other countries at HELO Magazine.

Much of Sudan has great potential for peace and prosperity. Many Sudanese who live on the frontlines have incredible ideas about how local and national disputes can be resolved. But for some reason, the international community, diplomatic envoys, and governments tend primarily to invite those with guns to negotiation tables. Wouldn’t peace talks be more successful if they were dominated by local violence prevention innovators instead? At the very least, Sudanese violence prevention innovators could use more press.

Daniel J. Gerstle is founder and editor of; executive producer at Sudan Mosaic Interactive Media Project; and an independent consultant on humanitarian aid, human rights, and media.