Women are the wind at each other’s backs

“Women of Peace” sent the message “Peace begins with forgiveness”

In addition to the numerous activities and projects they implemented, the members of the “Fojničani” Association invested hours and hours of volunteer work in the construction of the Volunteer Center for Social Inclusion. Part of the building of the Bradići Regional School, devastated in the 2014 flood, has been turned into a multifunctional space, suitable for people with disabilities. In this center, the local community and other organizations that operate in this area have their own space for work, and its construction was helped by the relevant cantonal and federal ministries and the local government. It was in this space that the “Women of Peace”, women from Fojnica, Bosniaks and Croats, realized their first activities. They came up with the idea of ​​organizing quite spontaneously, through numerous actions that they implemented, starting with volunteer eco-actions on the arrangement of Fojnica itself, removing garbage along the local road, and then organizing “Fojnica meetings” during the summer with the aim of making this small, rural environment, promotes in terms of culture and tourism. They started their activities as “women of peace” in 2000, it was not difficult, because they all sincerely wanted to restore the trust that had been broken during the war years. First of all, they had support from the leadership of the Citizens’ Association “Fojničani”, their friends and neighbors, local authorities, but also international organizations.

“We know that an important aspect of our work in this area is social inclusion and reconciliation, because this area is burdened by minefields, demarcation lines used to be located here. People have suffered numerous traumas. And that was one of the reasons to unite the local women in ‘Women of Peace’. In this center, they sewed a bunch of checkers with peace messages and distributed them in religious buildings in Maglaj, Žepč and Sarajevo. Without unity, there can be no progress in society,” emphasized Davor Šupuković, secretary of the Association.

Women showed perseverance to learn something new

In the Volunteer Center for Social Inclusion in Fojnica, trainings were organized within the project “Women of Peace: Peace Mission”. Citizens’ Association “Fojnicani” implemented this project with the financial support of the Women’s Ecumenical Initiative, which is dedicated to strengthening the role of women in strengthening civil and interreligious dialogue, and building peace and reconciliation in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia. Funds of 14,000 KM were obtained, and the project lasted nine months. Part of the funds was used for the purchase of 20 sewing machines. Women from the settlements of Fojnica, Bradići, Tomići, Globarica and Komšići showed great will and perseverance to learn something useful.

Janja Nikolić recalled how she looked forward to every new meeting at the center, and Martina Antunović told us that even the youngest often came and socialized.

 “I always wanted to learn to sew, so that I could use it in my household as well.” This is an ideal opportunity to combine the pleasant with the useful,” Naida Zahirović told us.

Sara Međić is one of the youngest members of “Women of Peace”. “All the women are very friendly, positive and accommodating. They like to help and I learned a lot here.”

She joined “Women of Peace” because of her desire to volunteer and because of the beautiful memories that bind her to her mother Fikreta’s hometown, with whom she used to come to the workshops. She found an additional motive for engagement in this association in the fact that different nations, religions and generations meet there: “Honestly, I think that there are too few peace activities that we really need. That’s why when I saw that this initiative exists and that a local organization (“Fojnicani”) is working on it, I was delighted and didn’t hesitate to join,” Sara told us and ordered. “Instead of prejudice, we spread understanding and build peace for the future of young people!”

They sewed a thousand checkers and distributed them to believers of all three confessions in three cities

Under the slogan “Peace begins with forgiveness”, the “Women of Peace”, 25 of them, set aside 100 hours of free time each to sew a thousand checkers that were distributed to believers of all three confessions in Maglaj, Žepč and Sarajevo. In this way, they wanted their message of peace, which breaks down all barriers and prejudices, to reach as many believers as possible. Maja Šupuković, the coordinator of the Project, did not hide her satisfaction with the reactions. ” Besides the women from Fojnica, we were joined by women from the surrounding towns. We are very satisfied and would repeat everything we did during the project. Our messages reached a large number of believers, because peace and reconciliation are extremely important to us ,” Šupuković said.

“I believe that the strength of a woman is reflected in another woman, that by joining together we become stronger in every segment of society, because it is very important to have a community that supports us and is a safe zone for us. For this reason, for me, ‘Women of Peace’ are an extremely important part of my activist, but also personal, life journey, because with them I learned and grew as a person, and I received immense support, which I returned to my colleagues. “No woman should be lonely, each of us should have her own community, whether small or big, made up of other women who will be a wind at her back,” said volunteer Sara Međić at the end.

“Women of peace” continue to volunteer in their local community through eco-actions and gatherings, and they were also involved in signing a petition for the adoption of the Law on Citizen Initiative and Protection of Citizens and Activists in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They actively support the efforts of the “Fojničani” Association on nature protection, because the Fojničani are among the leaders in advocating protected nature areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as branding the municipalities of Maglaj, Žepče and Zavidovići as a unique tourist destination, “3 cities, 3 nature parks”.

Written by: Nejra Bradarić

This story was written thanks to the generous support of the American people through the “Local Works” program of the United States Agency for International Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina (USAID). The content of the story is solely the responsibility of the author and the “Network for Building Peace”. The views expressed in the story do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.