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.“
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
Summer is almost here, and so we're getting ready for our annual Peace Camp again.
We have started making the necessary preparations in terms of accommodation and project planning. We are constantly reflecting on our practice so for this year we will revise previous feedback and make sure we improve and give more for this year's training.
We have started to advertise in order to recruit new potential leaders for our programme. As well, since our project is not fully funded yet, we ask again that you consider giving a small donation. Last year we could not secure grants, and so it was all your generous donations that made a difference and helped us held our training.
Please consider making another donation and help us fully fund this year's Peace Camp. You can help in many ways from sharing the link, organising fundrasing, and generally spreading the word. Also, if you wish you can set up a recurring donation for the remaining 4 months.
As always we'll keep you posted with the progress we make.
The CIM Team
Greetings from Bosnia!
We've been busy lately, preparing to take the learning from Peace Camp slightly further, in communities accross Bosnia.
At the moment, most of our participants have finished the preparation stage, and are ready to implement the learning. Since August, the participants have had the time to take everything in, reflect on their experiences, and plan their next move.
The charming young man from the photo below is called Jasmin, and he is a participant from our town, Sanski Most. He has been actively involved in the our activities since he was in high school, and last August he was one of the participants of the Peace Camp. Jasmin has agreed to share what the Peace Camp has meant to him:
" It was great, and it was interesting for me because there were a lot of people that I didn't know from other cities, other religions, some older and others younger than me.I learned that all of us are equal but in a special way, and also that we are unique. I learned that if i am Bosnjak, I dont need to hate Serb or Croat people, we are the same. During war everyone can make mistakes, and I can't judge them or their children for it .We are also a part of that. I learnt that we need to talk about conflict in our communities, and our lives because the only way to resolve the problem is to talk about it and listen to other people's perspectives."
Medina is another participant from the 2012 Peace Camp and she also agreed to share some thoughts:
"It was a really great experience, we learned about non-violent communication and conflict resolution through workshops and dialogues.What was good for me is that every day we started with different prayer, muslim, catholic, orthodox, atheist etc.We also worked in small groups in which we were learining how to become good non-violent facilitators, as well as dialouge with participants about problems in our society nowdays and in our common past,we had opportunity to discuss the history of war and ethnically based prejudice in Bosnia and Herzegovina.What we can do now to make peace in our local community as well as in whole country between three different nations after the war.We still haven't done any workshops in Sanski Most, but we are planning to form a group of small children and to work with them about non-violent communication and conflict resolution, or to go to schools and have lectures about that topic.Our organisation made a big step in that field.We started with (self)help for war trauma in order to get over the psychological trauma.We have, every month or two, an event in city hall where one war victim talks about his/her bad experiences in war or time spent in concentration camp.While he talks about that everything is recorded.Our goal is to archive all these stories so we dont forget about things that happened in the war and hopefully there would be a book written about that.I think everyone should go through these seminars like Peace camp to learn about their past and possible bright future. Building trust is the foundation of the peace camp experience,to gain experience about peace and share with other people in their community about the war so that we can work on that the same thing never happen again."
Last year it was the first time when we could not secure the funding we needed from organisational or governement grants. Most of the funding for the peace camp came from you, our individual donors, who have supported us on globalgiving. Jasmin, Medina, and all the other participants could not have had the training were it not for your generous donations.
We aim to support our participants financially as much as we can with implementing activities in their own communities and therefore, we would really appreciate if you would share our project with friends, families, and anyone you may think would like to make a donation. Also, an annonymous donor has agreed to match recurring donations, in case you would like to consider this option.
Thank you so much for all your help, kindness and generosity. We owe the fact that we could hold the Peace Camp in 2012 to all of you. We'll keep you posted with updates on how our participants will use the training to make a change.
After months of preparation and a year of fundraising it all came together- thanks to you! From August 24-30, The Center for Peacebuilding held Peace Camp with 30 incredible youth from around the country.
When you read the news about the Balkans, it's hard to believe that we have any hope for the future. Everything is about ethnic divides and denying the wounds that all citizens of the country hold. Yet, for one week on the river Una, in Northwestern Bosnia, an amazing group of young Bosnians of all ethnicities, gathered to share their inner feelings, traumas, and wishes for their country. In these individuals we found young peacebuilders who want to work together and share their country with everyone-Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks, Roma, Jews, and others.
After a challenging year with many changes, both good, and bad, Peace Camp restored me and my fellow director, Mevludin. The participants too, found energy, inspiration, and many things to learn from this week.
" I learnt that you cannot take the fact for granted that spirituality and peacebuilding are connected, and I have a lot more to work on to get to the point where spirituality and being a peacebuilder are connected inside of me". Peace Camp participant
As we continue this year, we will keep in touch with participants, and help them on their own journey to be peacebuilders with their families and communities.
This would not have happened without each and every one of you. Your support has helped us and strengthened our resolve to continue this uphill battle in so many ways. So again, thank you for your donations, and your positive thoughts, prayers, and energy.
As Always, In Peace
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Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina