In this article:

SFOR: A Crucial Resource

Friends of Bosnia’s Guest Lecture Series

Friends of Bosnia Supports SFOR

Two Friends of Bosnias Work Together

Weaving for Hope

www.ConnectBosnia.org

FOB Received Grant from Good Housekeeping Magazine and GE

 
 

 

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Center for Balkan Development
2 CLOCK TOWER PLACE #510
MAYNARD, MA 07154
Tel: 978-461-0909
Fax: 978-461-2552
[email protected]
www.balkandevelopment.org

FOB Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 1, December, 2003

FOB News

SFOR: A Crucial Resource

From 1992 to 1995, Friends of Bosnia called for military intervention to stop the genocidal bloodshed that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1995, as one component of the response to the world’s plea for peace in Bosnia, 20,000 US soldiers (part of a 60,000-strong NATO-led international peacekeeping force)entered Bosnia to secure peace, under the name SFOR (Stabilization Force). With exceptional discipline and professionalism, the US military took a very murky situation and used its overwhelming military superiority not to “destroy the enemy” but rather to separate the opposing armies and deny them the capacity to wage war. As part of SFOR, the US military has used its immense strength toward the most noble end: peace. If it were not for the work of the SFOR peacekeeping force, Friends of Bosnia would not be able to do its work to help establish a lasting peace and rebuild Bosnian lives and communities through its community development projects. With an intimate knowledge of the good SFOR is doing, Friends of Bosnia extends its deepest gratitude and appreciation to the men and women serving in the SFOR peacekeeping force.

Friends of Bosnia’s Guest Lecture Series

 

Friends of Bosnia’s Guest Lecture Series in Tuzla focuses on teaching marketable skills and teaching about issues central to the development of civil society and a viable economy. Through 2002 and 2003, guest lecturers included FOB’s executive director, Glenn Ruga, teaching an intensive course in web design; Robert G. Cameron, a prosecuting attorney from thePennsylvania governor’s office, teaching conflict of interest; David Leibler, a business consultant formerly of KPMG, a New York– based consulting firm, teaching business management; Cornell computer science graduate Doug Mitarotonda, teaching Java software programming; information technology specialist Ted Dagnal, teaching system administration; and Nino Skiljic, teaching PHP programming.

 

The teachers aren’t just ordinary folks, however. Skiljic is a 2002 graduate of a Friends of Bosnia–sponsored training program, now teaching new students in PHP. Volunteer teachers Liebler, Cameron, and Dagnal are all members of the US peacekeeping force, SFOR (see accompanying articles). Since all of the US peacekeepers are “citizen soldiers” from the National Guard, they possess an extensive wealth of knowledge and skills and are a wonderful resource as volunteer teachers. FOB’s Guest Lecture Series provides an avenue for US peacekeepers to make a personal contribution through education, thereby helping Bosnians and at the same time boosting morale for soldiers who are far from home and who benefit from seeing firsthand the good their peacekeeping work is doing in the region.Friends of Bosnia Supports SFOR.

Friends of Bosnia and the US military peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, SFOR (see sidebar), have a mutual interest in creating a lasting peace in the region. FOB and SFOR have worked together and supported each other’s efforts in a number of ways, and this work is ongoing. In one general example, FOB is helping to build bridges between SFOR and Bosnian citizens, through creating clear, open, direct lines of communication between Muslim community leaders and the US military. Such initiatives include hosting interfaith gatherings among US soldiers and Bosnian religious leaders, which promotes friendships and understanding among these people of different backgrounds.

In more specific examples, FOB provided medical supplies for SFOR assistance in Prijedor and Srebrenica; an FOB volunteer helped at a SFOR Medical Assistance Event (MEDCAP) in Modrica; FOB assisted SFOR outreach to the Serbian Orthodox community in Papraca and Tuzla; and FOB helped SFOR find grassroots connections to Bosnian community organizations that could benefit from SFOR donations, such as books and computers for schools.

Friends of Bosnia Supports SFOR

Corporal Brian Self, FOB’s Chris Bragdon, and Major David Futch working with RS Police at a
multiethnic volunteer project near Zvornik.
 

Friends of Bosnia and the US military peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, SFOR (see sidebar), have a mutual interest in creating a lasting peace in the region. FOB and SFOR have worked together and supported each other’s efforts in a number of ways, and this work is ongoing. In one general example, FOB is helping to build bridges between SFOR and Bosnian citizens, through creating clear, open, direct lines of communication between Muslim community leaders and the US military. Such initiatives include hosting interfaith gatherings among US soldiers and Bosnian religious leaders, which promotes friendships and understanding among these people of different backgrounds.

In more specific examples, FOB provided medical supplies for SFOR assistance in Prijedor and Srebrenica; an FOB volunteer helped at a SFOR Medical Assistance Event (MEDCAP) in Modrica; FOB assisted SFOR outreach to the Serbian Orthodox community in Papraca and Tuzla; and FOB helped SFOR find grassroots connections to Bosnian community organizations that could benefit from SFOR donations, such as books and computers for schools.

Two Friends of Bosnias Work Together

Friends of Bosnia and Connecticut Friends of Bosnia (CFOB), two previously unrelated and unaffiliated groups, have come together to collaborate on reconstructing a village in central Bosnia. CFOB founders Carol and Barry Schaefer, from Greenwich, Connecticut, have been committed Bosnia activists from early on in the war in Bosnia. Initially their work centered around bringing Bosnian students to study in the United States and advocating for a just resolution to the war. Since 1993, they have sponsored 14 students to study here at both the high school and college levels.

CFOB’s work now is focusing on rebuilding Kopice, a village north of Sarajevo near Zenica that was badly damaged during the war. During the past three-and-a-half years, CFOB has rebuilt 60 houses in Kopice, returning nearly 300 people to their homes, and constructed a residential water-delivery system. CFOB will also be working with families from Srebrenica and has recently expanded its Family Assistance Program to help families rebuild their lives, as well as their houses, with educational, medical, and relocation costs.

For more information on this project, contact John Niesyn at [email protected]
otponline.net.

Weaving for Hope
Exhibit of Bosnian Kilims

The dedication of these women to their art means that peace is possible. If all ethnic groups can join hands to weave, they can all join hands to rebuild their deeply wounded country.”
Kelly Kliebhan, exhibit curator
 

Beginning in November, FOB and the Washington-based Advocacy Project (www.advocacynet.org) are cosponsoring an exhibit of kilims (traditional Bosnian carpets) at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center. The kilims are created by refugee women from Srebrenica, who survived the notorious 1995 massacre in that town. These women weave together at Bosfam, a Bosnian women’s organization that supports women who were widowed or displaced during Bosnia’s brutal three-year war. In addition to offering its members an opportunity to work, the Bosfam center provides a place for them to meet and console each other about their loss. Over the last 10 years, Bosfam has trained hundreds of women to weave kilims, sweaters, knitted wool socks, and even fashionable dresses; many are made on looms in the Bosfam office. For many Bosfam members, weaving provides their only source of income.

The exhibit features 20 kilims, all individually woven and bearing the name of their weaver. Rich in color, they also feature traditional Bosnian patterns that have been handed down from mother to daughter. The largest kilims, which measure one square meter, can take up to three months to weave. The exhibition, “Weaving for Hope,” will celebrate Bosfam’s message of hard work, hope, and reconciliation.

The kilims on display may be ordered through the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center or through the Advocacy Project. Allow 4 to 6 weeks for delivery.

Weaving for Hope
Traditional kilim rugs woven by refugee artists from Bosnia
Nov. 19, 2003–Jan. 2, 2004
Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center
41 Second Street
Cambridge, MA 02141
617-577-1400 x.10   
www.cmacusa.org
Gallery is open Monday through Friday 10:00 am–6:00 pm and during all CMAC events. Free admission.  

www.ConnectBosnia.org

Click on image to link to Connect Bosnia  

A New Way to Connect People and Resources Worldwide
One result of genocide is that entire swaths of society are destroyed. As a result, for every interest a donor might have, there is a corresponding need in Bosnia. A contribution to any part of Bosnia’s society brings people one step closer to rebuilding their lives and their communities and recovering from a genocidal war.

To help provide donors with a more personal means of donating to this cause, FOB worked with a team from Cornell University to develop software for the new connectbosnia.org website, which has been described as an “amazon.com of e-charity.” With sophisticated software that makes the site both user friendly and easily managed by FOB staff, connectbosnia.org enables donors to choose a specific recipient for their on-line donation from a number of important reconstruction projects in Bosnia. For example, a donor might choose to donate a computer for the Zvornik Boy Scouts Troop, or new linen for the Tuzla Orphanage.

The “Passion Finder” feature matches the donor with projects in any of 10 areas of interest, including education, women, refugees, and community initiatives. The donated item is then delivered by FOB staff in Bosnia, with digital photographs and e-mail confirmation of delivery sent to the donor. We anticipate that the website will be fully operational by January 2004.

FOB Received Grant from Good Housekeeping Magazine and GE

In recognition of her international medical care work, FOB Board Member Sheri Fink was a finalist in this year’s Heroes in Health Award from Good Housekeeping magazine and General Electric. Sharing the stage with Pfc Jessica Lynch and four other women who have made outstanding contributions to health, Good Housekeeping and GE donated $10,000 to a charity of Fink’s choice. She divided the contribution between FOB and the Srebrenica/ Potocari Memorial Foundation. This group is working to establish a permanent memorial in Potocari, where thousands of Bosnians gathered at the UN base seeking refuge from General Mladic and his troops prior to the massacre.