How Ryan Douwie is Contributing to the Ripple Effect of PeacePlayers

Reconnecting with PeacePlayers Former Staff, Ryan Douwie

November 19, 2021



In celebration of PeacePlayers’ 20th Anniversary, we have had the pleasure of catching up with several “former” PeacePlayers. We have learned where their lives have taken them since their time with PeacePlayers, and how they’ve taken PeacePlayers into their careers, professional lives, interests and hobbies as they’ve moved through the world. 

Q: Where do you currently live?

Cape Town, South Africa.

Q: What was your role at PeacePlayers Northern Ireland and how long were you involved?

I am former staff and was involved with PeacePlayers for 15 years.

Q: What’s been going on in your life since PeacePlayers?

Since my journey came to an end with PeacePlayers, I have taken up a career as a pilot. Since then I have been living the dream, flying all over Africa, meeting great people, exploring new places and having amazing experiences.

Ryan Douwie PeacePlayers South Africa

Q: What is your current profession, or hobbies?

I am currently a pilot flying for the United Nations and the World Food Programme. I still manage to play basketball socially as my favourite hobby.How have you brought PeacePlayers into your current profession and professional life?In my current career, I often come across colleagues who have massive egos and who are not the most open to change. Being a person of colour in aviation and an anomaly in South Africa, my journey as a PeacePlayer has helped me navigate this space greatly as I have experienced both in life and in technically dealing with conflict, the egos and people who are often -racist. I have practiced the principle of "seeing people as people" daily, and through this approach, I have managed to break down barriers between colleagues, become liked, favoured and also impart lessons I have learnt to make a positive impact in their lives.

Q: Do you have an example of when you’ve used the tools/skills PeacePlayers equipped you with to address personal/professional conflict orinequity?

Yes I do. Most recently, when we fly into Kinshasa -Democratic Republic of Congo, my colleagues often refer to the people there as "disgusting, filthy, poor, savages, hopeless, etc". In hearing the negative words, I summed up that the expressions my colleagues were using stemmed from a source that allowed them not to see the people as people, but merely as objects. Through my journey with PeacePlayers, I learnt the value of seeing People as People and how important it was to, at the very minimum, be open to gaining an understanding of why people act, live and respond to things the way they do. I encouraged my colleagues to have empathy, and for a moment, consider the difference between their upbringing as compared to the DRC locals, their access to resources, infrastructure, etc. Over time, I have witnessed my colleagues being more open to learning about the culture and history of the DRC, and over time, they no longer refer to the locals as they once did. Slowly but surely, they are beginning to see them as people.

Q: What’s your favorite PeacePlayers story?

When I was in Belfast, Northern Ireland, we hosted a twinning programme between two schools from Ardoyne, an area where the conflict was so rife that schools a few minutes walk apart started at different times to avoid kids interacting or even being on thesame road around the same time. It was scary, a first of its kind and months of preparation went into its execution. The day when we ran the twinning, it all came together and was a magical moment. It was a great event, great story and I am proud to have been part of it.

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