In many cases, the ethnic, religious, and cultural tensions between communities of different backgrounds in a conflict-impacted country remain long after the peace accords have been signed. Even though fighting may have ceased, a lack of cooperation, understanding, and reconciliation between affected groups could halt a country’s future development and the ability to build sustainable, long-lasting peace. Reconciliation between the various sides in a conflict is a critical part of achieving stability and an inclusive and peaceful future.
MLI launched its pilot inter-religious reconciliation project in 2014 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as part of our CHAMPS program. The project was designed to promote interaction and friendship between youth in the three majority religious and ethnic groups: Bosniak, Croat, and Serb. The project continues today to build on previous CHAMPS projects and to develop tolerance and reconciliation between the religiously, ethnically, and geographically diverse communities of Bosnia. Through the program, not only are American students linked with Bosnian students, but children from different religious groups within Bosnia are connected and work together to help promote inter-religious and inter-ethnic reconciliation. Children attending a school in an area that is majority Bosniak work with children living in other regions of the country that are majority Serb and Croat. The youth communicate on a regular basis via video messenger, participate in field trips together, visit religious sites, and work together on service projects to help mine survivors in their communities. Currently, six Bosnian schools are connected in this exchange program and it has enjoyed incredible success.
MLI plans to expand this successful program to other post-conflict countries around the world in future years.