Since our last report, we have managed to successfully organise another annual Peace Camp training. During the summer months, we recruited 18 youth with ages between 18 and 25 and from the 22nd-29th August 2015, we trained our participants from Visoko, Priboj, Brcko, Vitez, Travnik, Mostar, Prijedor, Buzim, Kresovo, Han Pijesak, Sarajevo, Bjelina, and Banja Luka.
The programme included many workshops designed to facilitate personal transformation, to expand the participants' knowledge and perspectives on current issues in BiH, as well as to break down prejudices and use the activities as cultural experiences to find out more about different traditions and faiths. There were additionally workshops aimed at helping youth bring their learning to their communities. The youth learnt how to design and implement small scale peacebuilding activities upon their return home.
As a result of the training, 18 peace activities will be organised by the participants in their home communities. Some of the feedback from Peace Camp, and what the experience meant to the participants, is outlined in the comments below:
'This was my first time participating in peace camp and I was thrilled. First of all we had a very good quality of education and an opportunity to learn many things which will be practised in the future. What's more we had the opportunity to meet young young from different faiths. Given that the camp was such good quality, I got the motivation to continue to spread and work with these topics.'
'This is a place where we all are like one group where Nedela, Vinko and Marija, become real friends, where there are no tensions and anxiety, as there I have found my peace...here you arrive with some pain, but you return home recovered in some way.'
'I overcame many stereotypes, and learned how not to use prejudices. I learned what are the fundamental human rights, how to communicate, how to work in a team, and how to resolve conflict.'
Dear Peace Camp sponsors,
My name is Nedzla, I am 20, from Visosko, and a participant in the 2014 training. Last year around this time I was preparing to submit my application to CIM, and I now wanted to share reflections as a gratitude for the opportunity to take part in Peace Camp.
The opportunity to go to new places, cities, and meet new people is always a good motivation for me to do something. The trip to Bihac, and participating in Peace Camp 2014 exceeded my expectations. The most important lesson for me was that forgiveness, new beginnings, doing good things, and spreading peace and reconciliation with painful past, brings positive and useful results. The most important thing to realize in life is that all of us are people with fears,stories,wishes,suffering, no matter from where we come from or what nationality or religion we have. Our differences are our fortune, and we should get know each other instead of acting on prejudice. We should be proud of it instead of despising it.
I am proud of my friendships with people from Peace Camp, as their life stories and experiences made me better person. I will recommend Peace Camp and peacebuilding to young people who want to discover who they are, who want to make their own picture of past in our country, who want to create a better future and to believe in it.
I am so grateful to my dear Vadidin and Mevludin. I want to thank them for every word and lesson of peace,love, and respect. I want to congratulate them on their work and not giving up. They are heroes who won demons of past, and who create a better future made of peace and love. I hope that more and more people will follow them in their mission.
Thank you once again for giving me this chance, and for helping so many other young people go to Peace Camp.
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.
First of all, we would like to wish you all happy holidays from all the staff members in CIM. December has been a very busy month for us, and no doubt you have been very busy too. We hope you will have an amazing new year, and may most, if not all your resolutions become reality.
Our Peace Camp participants from 2014 are no exception to what usually happens after the training: a good number of people we train develop the confidence and skills they need to become leaders in their own community. So what have they been up to? Mili, one of our group leaders has finished building a tennis court for children in his town of Doboj in Eastern Bosnia. The project was built entirely with volunteers and most of the materials were donated by local community members. He has negotiated his way through achieving this. Moreover, he works for a local grassroots NGO and is also contributing to organising an interethnic peace camp in his area. From project participant to project leader, we couldn't be more proud of him!
Two other participants, Dinka from Tuzla and Edin from Visoko were selected to be responsible for taking a group of young people from Sanski Most to Germany for an exchange programme in Koln. They supported and mentored the high school children, were in charge of all the logistical arrangements and delivered workshops with both Bosnian and German young people.
Nejra now works for her local youth centre in Visoko, and is implementing some of the learning she got in peace camp in her work. She is a restless activist for social change, and with a wonderful, energetic, and motivational attitude, we are sure her work makes a great impact on the young people she works with in her town.
We will keep you informed about the progress of our project participants in their own communities. We would like to say a massive, sincere thank you for all of your support in 2014. Your generous donations have helped us continue our work, and now CIM is growing into an internationally renouned organisation.
With much gratitude,
Adelina & the CIM Team
In August 2014, we held our 11th annual Peace Camp. 16 people took part in workshops aimed at understanding conflict, dealing with the past, and shaping Bosnia's future. From dealing with trauma, to envisioning a different Bosnia and Herzegovina, we saw youth between 17 and 33 years old change their understanding of the conflict, attitudes and behaviours. These young people are now equiped with skills to further reach young people in their own communities and facilitate peacebuilding activities. Below is an analysis of how change took place in this year's Peace Camp.
Friendships with "the other"
The majority of participants had 10 or fewer friends from another ethnicity/religion, but thanks to PC those numbers changed to participants saying they had more than 10 friends from another ethnicity/religion after PC, and one respondent who had no friends of the other before PC stated "Now I have two of them"
Do you think there will be another war in BiH?
Optimism about the country's future increased after the week. Before PC, people believed there would be another war (and NO ONE thought that Bosnia was definitely out of danger for another war). After PC, only 2 people answered "yes," that there would be another war, while the rest said no, or maybe.
Are better interethnic relationships possible? How?
-"Yes of course [better interethnic relations are possible], but we have to accept other religions" - "It is necessary to learn about our differences in a way so they don't look like a threat." - "Getting to know young people from other ethnic groups."
7 respondents specifically cited increased communication and understanding - including through actually meeting and getting to know people from the other side - to help interethnic relations.
How do you deal with personal conflict?
Before Peace Camp (herein after referred to as PC), most participants said they'd try to talk out conflict, while 2 said they were angry and silent and then just let it go. After PC, all respondents cited talking/dialogue/nonviolent communication as a means of dealing with personal conflict.
Reduced Fear/Increased Trust in "the other"
Before PC, participants were mixed about spending time in a place where another ethnicity was the majority. One person said they "strongly disagreed" that they would be comfortable in that situation, while 3 others said they were "undecided." However,after PC, no single individual would be uncomfortable spending time in a town or city where they were the ethnic minority.
This year's Peace Camp would not have happened without your generous support. Thank you once again for all your donations and support of any kind. The best time to make donations to our project is on bonus days, when they get matched. The next bonus day is on October 15th!
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Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina