Total Funding: $1.3 million
Start Date: January 2010
End Date: April 2014
Implementing Partner: Catholic Relief Services
The social and psychological consequences of the 1992–1995 war affect almost every aspect of life in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Former prisoners, war veterans, families of people who were killed, and families of those whose whereabouts remain unknown still confront the emotional and physical effects from this traumatic period of their lives. Healing the pain experienced by so many as a result of the war is a complex and intensive undertaking, and the need for psychological care in BiH remains immense. Helping citizens deal with the past will help BiH become a more tolerant, pluralistic democracy and move the country forward on the path to stability and Euro-Atlantic integration.
USAID’s project, Choosing Peace Together, creates a more positive attitude toward reconciliation at the grassroots level through education and psychosocial services. The project works in partnership with Caritas BiH and other local and international organizations gathered around the Network for Building Peace. By working with victims associations throughout BiH, the project reaches people already self-identified as being traumatized by the war, who have not managed to find closure on their own. Special emphasis is placed on BiH youth because the postwar generation often feels responsible for the suffering of its parents, and for this reason may be even more opposed to reconciliation efforts.
Implementation and Results
The project has reached more than 130 members from 35 BiH victims associations through trainings on topics related to reconciliation: relationships and communication, understanding trauma and forgiveness, self-help group leadership, and alternatives to violence and conflict resolution. To encourage participants to share their personal stories and promote reconciliation and peace building in BiH, the project organized and helped 34 participants take part in more than 40 "speaking-out" events throughout the country. These events drew an audience of more than 2,000 people of all ages. The project also organized two four-day trainings for young participants from all ethnic groups to carry the message of reconciliation back to their communities. The project awarded 22 small grants to BiH victims associations to conduct activities directly linked to the speak-out events, to support ongoing inter-ethnic cooperation and reconciliation at the local and national levels. The project also helped establish the Network for Building Peace, a network of more than 100 local and international organizations that support peace activism, reconciliation and inter-ethnic dialogue in BiH. Participants are able to further their education in the field of peace building through project-sponsored online courses.
Last updated: August 11, 2014