By Naida Kurdi
Amra Pandžo has been a peace activist for almost twenty years. She finds motivation for her peace work in faith. Over the past 20 years she has worked with a large number of people in the region to overcome the consequences of war by engaging in activities dealing with reconciliation, conflict transformation, and peace education.
Immediately after the war, she was the originator of the first network of non-governmental organizations that worked across ethnic divisions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and she was also among the first to cross those divisions herself.
In the TPO Foundation survey, Amra was one of eleven women in Bosnia and Herzegovina who were recognized in their local communities as women who contributed to peace. She edited the Manual for the Teachers of Islamic Religion on the Peaceful Dimensions of Islam and co-author of the book The Peace Road, which was published in 2016. She is a member of the organizational team of Believers for Peace and on the board of directors for the widely acclaimed inter-religious choir Pontanima. She works at the American Corner of the Sarajevo Library and runs Small Steps, an association for dialogue in the family and society.
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From April 2016 to March 2019 and in partnership with the Mennonite Central Committee, Mali Koraci will be implementing the project “Encouraging Children to Accept Differences.” Using peace-building methods to decrease divisions between children from different ethnic groups, Mali Koraci trainers will teach tools for dialogue and mutual understanding, referencing faith as a motivation and a source of energy. Then, the children will experience direct contact with those of different ethnic groups, “the Other,” by building friendships, practicing the skills they’ve learned and celebrating their accomplishments together.
The Little School of Interfaith Bridge Building
In twelve different cities with significant interethnic animosity around BiH, religious teachers who have previously participated in Mali Koraci training programs will invite a total of 120 children to participate in a one-day session called “The Little School of Interfaith Bridge Building.” In these sessions, twelve groups of participants, each with ten children from the same ethno-religious group, will learn about the basics of non-violent communication. They will learn about steps they can take when they are in conflict with anyone, from a family member to friend or class mate.
Practical Interfaith Bridge Building
After the “Little Schools of Interfaith Bridge Building,” each group of ten children will be paired with another group of children from a different ethnic community to continue their training in six “Practical Interfaith Bridge Building” sessions. These one-day workshops will provide opportunities for these children to practice what they’ve learned by role-playing in an imaginary conflict, laughing together and building friendships with people from different communities, and discussing nationalistic messages and reasons for war and peace.
Children’s Peace Festival
In December 2018, all 120 children participants will meet together in Sarajevo to do art workshops and celebrate with plenty of music and dancing.
After three years of building friendships across ethnic and religious barriers, these religious teachers and children will be empowered to return to their schools and cities around BiH as ambassadors of change. We as Mali Koraci staff look forward to planning future joint activities together in which we cooperate with a growing movement of religious teachers and students throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina who are working to heal our society.
Contribution to the Spirit of Compassion
for Suffering of People in the Balkans
1. The Central/Eastern European Regional Pax Christi Consultation took place from 27th till 29th April 2011 in Vukovar, Croatia. Vukovar is a town in Croatia which was completely destroyed by Serbian forces in war that started almost 20 years ago. In the recent past, pictures of columns of exhausted civilians coming out of destroyed Vukovar shocked the people all around the world. At the present, Vukovar has becoming a symbol for “remembering,” but this “remembering” is not simply retrospective and historical. Its wounds are not healed; the town is still divided. But there are efforts of citizens and local government toward building inter-ethnic trust, blossoming the promise of inspiration and hope. Continue reading Pax Christi International
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