Sponsor Bosnian-Herzegovinian youth to build peace

by Center for Peacebuilding
Vetted
at the end of peace camp 2014
at the end of peace camp 2014

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. 

Selfie of Edin, Dinka, and students in Germany
Selfie of Edin, Dinka, and students in Germany

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! 

Links:

Our 2013-2014 Peace Camp has ended and we have been busy preparing for this year's training. 

We trained twenty young Bosnian people from across the country in overcoming trauma, stereotypes, and conflict, and empowered them to go back to their home communities to apply the learning by further facilitating peace activities. Each participant planned and implemented around 20 hours of workshops, and those who were the most active and keen to be involved in peacebuilding work in the long run, will be returning to the Camp this year, to help co-facilitate some of our workshops, this resulting in them becoming qualified trainers of trainers. 

Our next Peace Camp will be held on the 24th of August. We have recruited 20 more young participants. Based on feedback, we always try to improve at least one aspect of the training every year. In order to better evaluate our impact, we are now evaluating the participants both at the beginning and the end of the training, in order to be able to better measure the change that takes place in the 7 day training. We will then continue to monitor and evaluate progress as per usual throughout the year. 

This summer we also hosted two evaluators from globalgiving who came to help us improve our communications, reporting, and social media skills. We now have a new reporting strategy in place, and we will aim to get better at communicating the impact of training peace camp participants in their own communities. 

So far this year, you have helped us raise over $1000. Thanks to everyone who supports our cause, be it financial or not. 

In Peace, 

The CIM Team

Links:

As we've reached the third report on our annual peace camp, it means we're also starting to get ready for the 2014 training. We are currently updating the programme based on reflections and feedback from last year in order to improve out content and keep up with the times. Oh, and how the times have changed! 

Since our last update we have been pleasently surprised by the legacy of our programme. Peace Camp alumni have shown so much dedication to better our society. In our training we aim to work on a personal transformation as well as giving participants the tools to become activists for change in their societies. After 10 years of doing this programme, the fruit of our work is starting to become more and more visible. Our Bosnian youth have moved from the very ground level to participating in change at the political and societal level. They have made their voices heard, have formally written requests to the government, and still tiredlesly advocate for peaceful social change in Bosnia. We couldn't be more proud to work with our young generation. 

We will soon begin to advertise the training and recruit participants. In about a month's time we will also start to make arangements for the peace camp. We wish to be in touch more with our supporters who don't live in Sanski Most, and we are using our twitter account to achieve this. If you are tweeting, follow us here: https://twitter.com/CIMPeace We post news from Bosnia and updates from CIM. We have also discovered that our facebook followers do not get our updates. The recent changes made it harder for us to connect with those who like our facebook page. If you have followed us, go to our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SanskiMostPeace?fref=ts click on "liked" and then tick "get notifications". This is the only way our updates will reach you without having to pay for advertising. 

Finally we would like to make an appeal to our donors to support us to fund our 2014 peace camp. May 7th is the best day to donate this spring, as all donations will be matched by 30%. There is also a bonus prize of $1000 for the project who gets most donations in one day. If the report does not reach you in time, every small gesture helps, whether it is a regular donation, a fundraiser, a tweet, sharing our page on facebook, or simply emailing your friends and family and telling them why this project is important to you and why people should support us. Being recommended by our supporters have helped us get where we are today. 

With love and appreciation, 

The CIM Team (M, V, and our hardworking volunteers)

 

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Organization Information

Center for Peacebuilding

Location: Sanski Most, Una-Sana Kanton - Bosnia and Herzegovina
Website: http:/​/​unvocim.net
Project Leader:
Vahidin Omanovic
Sanski Most, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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