The Center for Peacebuilding (CIM) held its tenth annual Peace Camp near Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina from August 24th to 30th. This year, 22 Bosnian youth representing various ethnic and religious groups from all over the country attended, as well as international peacebuilders from the United States, Canada, Belgium, Poland and the Czech Republic. Four Bosnian participants were selected to attend Peace Camp for a second time in order to serve as small group leaders and facilitators. At the conclusion of the Camp, they received Trainer of Trainers certificates from CIM with the hope that the certificates will help them organize similar peacebuilding events in Bosnia in the future.
During Peace Camp, CIM staff worked hard to create a safe and open environment for the participants. The participants were intentionally given time to socialize with each other in order to provide them with space to develop interethnic and interreligious relationships. During Peace Camp, the particiants gained skills in peacebulding through interactive workshops on nonviolent communication, identity, stereotypes, conflict resolution and reconciliation. They also underwent a training course in nonviolent communication for children and received certificates at the conclusion of the Camp illustrating thier completion of the course. Each morning, Peace Camp began with a time for worship from different faith traditions, which provided the participants with an opportunity to learn about religions different than their own and to come together for prayer, meditation and reflection.
Throughout Peace Camp, through facilitated dialogue, CIM staff encouraged participants to examine the negative stereotypes they hold about individuals from different ethnic and religious groups and begin taking steps to overcome some of the anger and fear they feel towards the other. CIM staff also spent time helping participants address past traumas and the heavy emotions attached to them.
One participant, Amina for Gorazde, shared her thoughts on her Peace Camp experience:
„Peace Camp led me into a totally different reality from the one I knew. I expected to meet new friends and gain some new experiences and skills. However, I got a lot more than that. I met fantastic people and I learned a lot of new things and gained a new perspective of myself and others around me. I learned that facing everyday situations while carrying past traumas and pain is really hard. Peace Camp is a place where I felt safe sharing all that I carry inside of myself. At Peace Camp, I was able to share my stories and feelings and hear other people’s stories and feelings. During Camp, we became members of one big family. It was calming and inspiring to spend time with a group of people who believe in peace. My true advice for anyone who has not participated in CIM’s Peace Camp, is to take a chance and join.“
With all the hustle and bustle created by the summer, our peace camp, and new volunteers arriving, we are now back in the office working hard.
The Peace Embassy has been given priority and now that we have a structred and well designed business proposal, the volunteers have been working on researching the potential of incorporating a tourist agency into the plan in order to generate income and means to become self-sustainable.
The funding available will be looked at this autumn and the possibility may arise to be able to purchase a strip of land for building the emabassy right by the bank of the sana river, and in the close proximity of the town centre, which would allow better links with the community and easy access.
Every donation we get for the Peace Embassy will be directed straight into a fund which solely aims to build a self-sustainable social enterprise which will allow us to continue the crucial work needed in Bosnia, in the current situation where funding is getting more and more scarce.
The CIM Team
On the 24th of August 2013 we will be starting the 10th Peace Camp organised by CIM in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Looking back on what we have achieved motivates us to continue this training, although since last year we have not managed to secure any major grants for our project.
Only in the past 3 years we have trained 77 active peacebuilders that went back to their home communities and implemented peace activities. The number of applications we recieve for the training has gone up by 60% in the last 3 years, and this year we recieved around 100 applications.
With your support for last year's peace camp, we managed to train 34 new peacebuilders, 32 from Bosnia and 2 internationals. If we multiply that by 20 hours of required peace activities that they implemented, that will result in 680 hours of workshops, presentations, and peace activities through art. During the peace camp we witnessed openess, tranformation, conflidence building, and more and more desire from people to stand up to the legacy of the Bosnian conflict.
Last week we hosted a former volunteer who came back to do an in-depth research of the impact of Peace Camp. Although the results they gathered won't be published for a few months, they found out that the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and that the ripple effect of the Peace Camp is outstanding.
In the final weeks before our Peace Camp starts again, we appeal to our globalgiving donors to help us fund this year's project. As was the case last year, we do not have the funds to fully implement it, and at this point we could only accept 22 participants. Your donations, no matter how small or generous, have helped us to train the 34 participants last year, and that was solely due to our campaign on global giving. Please consider making a small donation again, on the eve of the 2013 Peace Camp.
Vahidin Omanovic, Mevludin Rahmanovic, and the CIM team