by Bryan and Stephanie Carey
It’s difficult to describe a place like Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The entire Balkan region is fascinatingly complex, deeply unsettled, and yet distinctly charming. We’ve fallen in love with the beautiful normalcy of BiH’s ethno-religious diversity, the incredible people who live here, and their wisdom and relentless courage.
We live and work in Sarajevo as representatives of Peace Catalyst. Our work here is to support peacemaking efforts and to include the local Protestant Church into that work to the extent that we, as foreigners, are invited to do so. As our proficiency in the local language increases, that support for peacemakers includes, research, translation work, promoting local peace initiatives, helping to plan and evaluate peace projects and programs, introductory trainings for interfaith peace work, and networking among religious leaders.
One of the organizations we’ve had the privilege to partner with is Small Steps, a local NGO which promotes interethnic and interfaith peace and non-violence at all levels of BiH’s post-war society. Small Steps focuses on heart-to-heart interfaith dialogue as a means to build understanding between ethnic groups. They also do collaborative peace building activities, promotion of non-violent theory and action in religious communities, gender equality, and human rights projects.
The director and founder of Small Steps, Amra Pandžo, is a Muslim Bosniak who lived through the siege of Sarajevo and began doing peace work shortly afterwards. She has over twenty years of experience in reconciliation work in BiH, Kosovo, Ukraine, and with citizens of Afghanistan. She’s written and published several works, including the Manual for the Teachers of Islamic Religion on the Peaceful Dimensions of Islam, which Small Steps utilizes to work with teachers of Islam in schools throughout BiH to promote the inclusion of nonviolent conflict transformation as a core part of religious education.
We’re humbled and delighted to represent Peace Catalyst here in Bosnia & Herzegovina and to see the breakthroughs that come from waging peace in such a conflict-riddled part of our world!