As we go further into 2015, progress towards the Peace Embassy is advancing .
Firstly, the local mayor has dedicated much time to advocating for CIM to get a building to renovate on leasehold, and had meetings with the Ministry of Culture in Sarajevo. In these meetings he has presented the condition of a historic monument in Sanski Most, and emphasised the need for restoration, as well as adding another floor to suit CIM's needs for a community centre.
Interest in building a peace centre in the local community has also gotten more interest from funders. A major donor has reserved funds for renovation purposes, whilst a current partner has agreed to fund the building and running of a private kindergarten within the centre.
Finally, next week we will welcome our first social enterprise volunteer from the US, who will primarily work on the development of the Peace Embassy. Chelsea will work with our current volunteers to gather information and find additional resources to move the project forward. She will stay with us for the next 6-9 months.
Spring has arrived in Sanski Most. We hope the warmth has reached you too, wherever you are. Thank you very much for all your support so far.
Warm hugs from the CIM Team
A few weeks ago a Bosnian TV show called 'Perspektiva' went to Mostar to speak to young people. Mostar is an iconic place in Bosnia, famous for its bridge which now divides the city into a Muslim part and a Catholic part. A young man was interviewed and he said he had never, in his entire life, crossed the bridge into the other community. He didn't know how they lived like, how the people were like, etc. A friend of mine was discussing this with me and was baffled by the story: 'how can you live in one of the most important and visited cities in Bosnia, and not leave your neighbourhood?'. Sadly, Mostar is not an isolated case in this regard. Many cities here are like this, and young people have very little experience of living in a diverse/multicultural society, despite being able to find people of different backgrounds steps away, or just across a bridge. This is a dangerous trend in a country which suffers from fear, nationalistic rhetoric, different histories, facts, and war trauma. Often the first step to change this is to show people a different perspective. To take their hand, cross the bridge with them, and show them those people living there look like you, go to similar cafes, have similar houses, and are not out to get you.
Peace Camp aims to work on these perspectives. It's been 6 months since young people from various towns and cities in Bosnia attended our training.We are forwarding their throughts on how it helps them personally, and how it motivated them to further become peace activists in the communities.
Among the activities they have implemented so far we can count an inter-ethnic camp, a work camp, weekly workshops on tolerance and non-violent communication, and constantly advocating for more integration of youth within their communities.
We thank you for investing in the project. We hope you feel like you have made a difference by doing so. If you are considering supporting us in the future, heads up, today (March 18th), globalgiving is matching all donations by 30%. It's a great way to add a bonus to your donation, but be quick, matching will only apply as long as a limited amount of funds last.
In December we set a goal to fundraise $2000 so we can start developing our small eco-tourism initiative and set money aside to buy a plot of land. Thanks to all of your contributions, we managed to raise $8000, 4 times the amount we aimed at.
December has also been a month of great progress on the ground in our local community. Out networking and all the meetings with local authorities are starting to show results. On Christmas Day, we held a reception in Sanski Most to disseminate our results with the local community. The mayor gave a speech in which he mentioned we have his support in building the Peace Embassy. One week later, the municipality voted for us to have the old train station building, should we require a back up plan. We are currently having negotiations, and researching what it would entail, and whether it is feasible for us to take on a restoration project. In the meantime we are in touch regularly with the local municipality to help us find either a piece of land to lease from the council, or to get financial help to buy a plot of land.
We are currently looking for a social enterprise development volunteer to help us write a strong business proposal and also look for grants to complement our fundraising efforts. Do you have any skills you can lend to this project? Do you know anyone interested in helping out? If yes, please do let us know.
Thank you for all your help in building the Peace Embassy!
With much gratitude,
The CIM Team