As a part of USAID’s PRO-Future project, an informal youth group with members from 5 cities in BiH organized an event called “Peace Caravan”. During the Peace Caravan, 15 young people from Doboj, Žepče and nearby areas visited places of worship and memorials for civilian victims of war in these two towns. During the visits, they talked to religious officials and learned more about various religious customs. They also had a chance to talk to representatives of the local administrations to learn what the local community is doing when it comes to peacebuilding.
PRO-Future is a USAID project for building peace and reconciliation among members of all ethnic and religious groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The project is implemented by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in cooperation with Caritas BiH, the Institute for Youth Development KULT, Forum of Citizens of Tuzla (FGT), Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (hCA) and the Interreligious Council in BiH (MRV BiH).
While they were in Žepče, they visited the Ferhat Pasha Mosque where they learned about the Mosque’s history, and about this religious community in Žepče and their relationship with other religious communities. After a meeting with representatives of the Žepče Islamic Community Majlis, the caravan visited the Orthodox Christian church of St. Paraskeva.
The goal of this project is to create a better atmosphere conducive to coexistence and honoring all civilian victims of war. Žepče municipality is one of the few municipalities with one common memorial for all victims of war, regardless of their religion or nationality. During the visit to the memorial, the delegation of Žepče Municipality laid flowers along with the Peace Caravan. The delegation consisted of the Mayor Mato Zovko, Council Chairman Muhamed Jusufović and a representative of the Žepče Association of civilian victims of war Kenan Kahriman.
The Peace Caravan ended its journey in the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, by talking to representatives of the Žepa parish.
All three religious communities that work together through the Interreligious Council sent a message of peace and tolerance, in a fitting example of cooperation and coexistence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Long-term peacebuilding in the region is the only way forward.
During the visit to the Grapska memorial, Aljo Hasanović, a local from Grapska who maintains the memorial and lived through the horror of the war talked to the young participants about his experience.
Just like Žepče, Doboj offered the participants a rich display of diversity resulting from the coexistence of four major religions.
Tinjak Mosque, Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and the Temple of the Holy Virgin were some of the stops on the participants’ peace journey. After a conversation with Deputy Mayor of Doboj, Vlado Blagojević, the participants laid flowers on the memorials to civilian victims of war in Doboj, located in the city park.
The long-term goal of this project is to foster cooperation among organizations and participation of young people in socially beneficial projects that build trust and promote reconciliation.
Building bridges is the only way forward.
More information about USAID’s PRO-Future project is available on the www.probuducnost.ba website.