Promoting Peace

Peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Uniting Through Love and Dialogue

For the past 15 years, Božidar Mihajlović, executive director of ADRA Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been involved in various peacebuilding projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In a country deeply scarred by war and still grappling with the aftermath, these initiatives have aimed to bridge divides and foster understanding among its diverse population.

ADRA engaged in peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In this blog article, we would like to remember some of ADRA’s activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and their impact on building lasting peace. Božidar Mihajlović remembers:

“The first project that I was a part of was called “Lets Do It – clean up the country in 1 day” and “Lets Do it – plant a million trees in one day.” While these endeavors were primarily ecological in nature, they played a significant role in peacebuilding. Through the formation of a network comprising 120 local leaders and teams, individuals from three different nationalities and religions were brought together to work towards a common goal – the betterment of their shared environment. This project stood as a stark contrast in a country where media outlets often perpetuate divisive narratives, showcasing unity and collaboration for the greater good.

The second project, “Invasion of Love,” has been ongoing for the past decade. Our team travels to a city marked by divisions and nationalities each year. Through a series of activities, we aim to spread love and inspire others to do the same. Some of our activities have a clear peacebuilding focus. One notable instance occurred in Mostar, a city divided into an eastern part populated by Muslims and a western part inhabited by Catholics. On the final day of the Invasion of Love, we pulled three ropes from the mosque, Orthodox and Catholic churches. These ropes symbolized the connections between different faiths and cultures. Messages of peace from both the Bible and the Koran were attached to the ropes, which were then tied into a knot on the Old Bridge. This powerful gesture, captured by numerous media outlets, received widespread approval and appreciation from the people.

Another remarkable project took place in the town of Jajce, where children from different nationalities were forcibly segregated in separate schools. In response, we created a large mural under the bridge bearing the inscription, “Love unites.” This mural served as a visual reminder of the power of love in overcoming divisions and fostering unity among the youth.

For a period of two years, I  had the privilege of leading a center for interreligious dialogue in Sarajevo. This center provided a platform for different religious groups to share their beliefs, practices, and customs. We aimed to foster understanding and respect among diverse faith communities. Additionally, on a monthly basis, we came together as a collective to engage in community-based activities to promote peace and harmony.

The most recent project I have been involved with is establishing an internet radio station called “Reconciliation.” Through this platform, we strive to spread the good news of forgiveness, love, and goodwill among Muslims, Catholics, and Orthodox people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. By actively building bridges and fostering dialogue, we hope to contribute to developing lasting peace in our country.”

Peacebuilding is an ongoing process.

Peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina is an ongoing process that requires the collective effort of individuals, communities, and organizations. These projects, rooted in love, dialogue, and reconciliation, have undoubtedly made an impact on bridging divides, overcoming differences, and bringing people together. As we continue to build a better future for our society, it is crucial that we amplify such initiatives and work towards a society where peace, understanding, and respect prevail.

Pictures: Shared by ADRA Bosnia and Herzegovina.