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Center for Balkan Development
Tel: 978-461-0909
Fax: 978-461-2552
[email protected]

CBD Briefs
Vol. 11, No. 1, December, 2005
<back to table of contents>

Update on Bosnia Projects
By Christopher Bragdon Director of Bosnia Projects

Note: On January 1, 2006, our Bosnia projects under the direction of Chris Bragdon will be subsumed under an independent Bosnian NGO called BILD. See Letter from Executive Director

School supplies for elementary school in Visegrad. Christopher Bragdon helping a student adjust the strap on his new backpack for carrying books to school.  

As 2005 comes to an end, I would like to highlight our goodwill projects in eastern Bosnia. In this article you will learn of concrete examples from 2005 of private donors making a significant difference in the lives of Bosnians who continue the step-by-step process of resurrecting their war-torn communities.

Our goodwill projects are designed to match the interests of private donors with the corresponding needs in Bosnia. For example, if a donor has an interest in information technology, their donation can pay for a computer. If the interest is in music, they can provide a violin. We honor donor intent, leverage the most of every donation, and do our best to generate goodwill and mutual respect from each project we implement.

Given that donors have a wide range of interests and given that we work with an extensive network of local community organizations in eastern Bosnia, our goodwill projects are quite diverse.

We work with organizations that serve university students, people with special needs, women, people with trauma, youth, orphans, kindergartens, people with drug addictions, hearing impaired people, Boy Scouts, traditional and modern dancers, returnee families, elementary school children, families of war veterans, and people of faith (Orthodox, Muslim, Catholic). With each of the aforementioned groups, we have specific organizations with which we have worked extensively. We know the leaders and members personally. When we encounter a new donor with an interest that is outside of our current network, we then build a new relationship with a new organization through a careful vetting process which includes implementing joint projects to get to know each other. Through this process, which started in 1996, we have developed an extensive network of quality relationships that are now avenues for effective giving.

Whenever a donor expresses an interest in contributing, we ask what they are most interested in and then get to work. Here are some examples from 2005:

Rita and Kate from New Jersey made a donation of $1000, and said they would like to help women in Bosnia. We asked the women�s organization �Prijateljice,� one of our implementing partners, what they needed most. They suggested chickens for returnee families in the village of Divic in the municipality of Zvornik where Prijateljice has a women�s community center. In October 2005, seven families in Divic each received 100 chicks and chicken food. With the profits from their first batch of chickens, each family will help other families by donating to them chickens and chicken food. In time, Rita�s and Kate�s initial donation will help a significant number of thevillage�s 145 families.

Members from seven community organizations and representatives of Tuzla Municipality celebrate the arrival of Fenik’s brand new diesel van  

Peter from New York City pledged $1,500. He said he was interested in bringing computer technology to young people. Combining his pledge with a donation of computers from Cornell University, we delivered 15 Pentium III computers to student organizations at Tuzla University and a public school in Gracanica.

Even small donations can be used for large benefit. For example, two $100 donations from Antonia and Tim were leveraged by volunteers doing a lot of bargain shopping in the U.S. during September discount sales . As a result, in October 2005, we were able to deliver school supplies in backpacks to all the students of a Visegrad elementary school.

US peacekeepers from Task Force Orion delivering boxes of clothing for women and children in Zvornik.  

Sometimes, we are lucky enough to receive large donations from private donors. We started 2005 with a celebration at our favorite local restaurant in Tuzla, Konoba MM. The cause for the celebration was a $20,000 donation from Terry and Susan that paid for a brand new diesel van for Feniks, our implementing partner organization that helps people suffering from trauma.

In addition to developing their own programs, Feniks provides the van with a driver to assist our programs and the programs of our implementing partners. For example, Feniks will provide the van for taking Emina, our assistant program coordinator, and four children from an impoverished fatherless family in Nova Kasaba to Zvornik for clothes shopping; the clothes being paid for by a chaplain from the US military and his sister back home in America. They are donating $150 each month to help these needy children.

$9000 from friends and family of the Minnesota National Guard paid for all of the furniture, the computers, and everything inside the grade 1 through 4 Nova Kasaba elementary school. Our plans for 2006 include a number of goodwill visits. In early summer 2006, Dr. Ronald and Kathleen Cobb from Kansas will visit Tuzla for 10 days. They will make a $2000 donation for a drug rehab center and Dr. Cobb will lead seminars on drug addiction counseling. In the spring of 2006, a group of Rotarians from Ithaca, New York will visit Gracanica. We will also be delivering a violin from the Ithaca Rotary Club to the Gracanica Rotary Club.

Of course, as you read this description of our goodwill projects, we do hope that you are inspired to make a contribution. If you include your e-mail, I or Emina will send you pictures of how your donation helped people here in Bosnia.

Thank you for taking the time to read this account of our work. Please know that if you would like to visit us here in Tuzla and see for yourself how your donation could make a difference, you are always welcome. You can reach me at [email protected]