PROJECT CLOSED: re:Generation Project in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a prime example of how trans-generational trauma affects future generations. Youth absorb the wartime trauma of previous generations, not only through historical narratives – or the lack thereof – but also through the resulting fallout. BiH youth are particularly vulnerable to ethno-nationalistic divisions, as they grow up mostly in homogenous communities without personally encountering or getting to know individuals from ethnic or religious groups other than their own. Unreconciled differences remain in communities that choose to remain silent and risk backsliding into the terrors of the 1990s out of nationalist pride, revenge, or religious extremism. Engaging youth in cross-community dialogue, with young people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, is essential for a stable, peaceful future in BiH. While numerous reconciliation projects aimed at youth have been implemented in BiH since the end of the 1992-95 war, many youth have become apathetic toward these initiatives.

USAID ASSISTANCE

Launched in May 2017, USAID’s re:Generation project is designed to make youth the principal agents of social and political change in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Project activities provide opportunities for both youth and adults to reflect on the past, be exposed to alternative narratives, and to speak with a more unified voice as advocates for positive change. USAID’s implementing partner for this two-year $1.2 million project is the International Republican Institute (IRI), with core local partner Magacin Kabare.

USAID has two main objectives for this project:

  • To foster cross-community discussions on ethno-religious divides; and
  • To empower youth activists to organize and conduct community-focused advocacy campaigns.

 

IMPLEMENTATION AND RESULTS

The project fosters a hands-on, people-to-people experience for participants, while facilitating group activities for youth from diverse backgrounds to focus on shared values and build cross-community cooperation.

In the initial months of the project, USAID organized a two-day Youth Advocacy Summit in Sarajevo. This milestone event brought together 149 young students, professionals, activists, and political party members and 40 expert trainers, political party leaders, government officials, civil society, filmmakers and actors with experience in reconciliation initiatives. Coming from 10 traditionally ethnically divided municipalities and cities across BiH, most youth attendees had never participated in reconciliation initiatives or intentionally learned about grassroots movements and the role of politicians, artists, film and business in reconciliation and peacebuilding.

The project selected 10 of the most active youth from the summit to be Reconciliation Ambassadors in their 10 municipalities, and they are now working with Magacin Kabare to develop a documentary film that explores different ethnic narratives and promotes reconciliation.

To empower other youth from the Youth Advocacy Summit, the project selected 10 teams who will implement community-based reconciliation projects with small grants from USAID.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated: October 04, 2019

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