Speechless Reconciliation: Peace Building In the Balkans
The post-Ottoman/Austro-Hungarian history of much of the western Balkans region of Europe is one of disparate populations gaining freedom, then being forced together, torn apart, coming together, and with the extended break-up of Yugoslavia, separating again.
Brutal clashes in the region during that separation; territorial disputes; and historic ethnic, religious and cultural differences all continue to contribute to underlying distrusts, animosities and the potential for more destabilization in the region.
In line with Rotary International’s focus on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution, Rotary clubs and facilities for children without adequate parental care in six of the Balkan countries – Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Croatia and Montenegro – are now engaging in an effort designed to help bring lasting peace to the region.
The effort is, initially, a program to introduce some of the least-advantaged in each of the countries to each other, allowing them to safely intermingle and learn of and from each other.
Led by Rotary Club Prague International, a club with members currently from sixteen countries, the Speechless Reconciliation project will engage young adults from each of the facilities on a journey of exploration and education that they might never otherwise be exposed to.
With additional exposure and mentoring, there is potential to guide these young people into global citizenship, with an understanding of how to recognize and accept their differences as all being necessary building blocks for peaceful life.
Any person or entity interested in this program can contribute to its success:
- Rotarians in the Balkan countries are encouraged to extend helping hands to the facility participating in your country.
- All Rotarians are encouraged to contribute to this effort financially and can easily do so through the contribution link on this site.
- Other entities are also encouraged to participate, either through monetary donations or in-kind support for transportation, accommodation, meals, and personal care needs of the young adults in the program.
This is the first year of a project it is hoped will be ongoing. Rotary grants are also being applied for, and with your help, the program can become a long-term and well-sustained effort and, perhaps, a model for similar efforts in other conflicted areas around the world.
Please join us.