Civil society education and local communities’ empowerment

In June 2006, “Save the Children” Norway launched a project to design a Manual for Children Rights Advocacy. The project had a goal to develop and promote a model of good practice of children’s participation in decision making processes, within social welfare services, court and police. It attends to achieve through creation of group of experts and national working groups, which will participate in preparation and evaluation of programs for children’s advocates education, and preparation of national plan for innovation of children’s advocates as a formal way of working in practice. Partners on three years project are non-governmental organizations from Serbia, Montenegro and Slovenia, and HA „Prijateljice“ from Tuzla is responsible for project implementation in Tuzla Canton area. Working group contains representatives from Ministry of Social Welfare of TC, Social Welfare Center in Tuzla, Tuzla Municipal Court, Cantonal Prosecution in Tuzla, Ministry of Interior of TC, Pedagogue Institute of TC, Orphanage Tuzla, Health Center, Faculty of Law and several NGOs so far have created Analysis of situation in children welfare area.

Its actual implementation started in January 2003, when UHD “Prijateljice”, within its mission, started supporting sustainable return, and returnees in 4 communities in Republika Srpska: Snagovo, Divič, Đulići in Zvornik Municipality, and Atmačići /Janjari in Ugljevik Municipality. As the number of returnees grew, so did the interest in opening of more clubs. As a result, in 2004, clubs were established in 2 more communities in Republika Srpska: Vidakova Njiva and Šetići in Zvornik Municipality.
The core of the project is the clubs for women and children, formed in returnee villages, where these persons can benefit from psycho-social, counseling and education support and creative playrooms for children.

Project objectives
• Support to returnee women and men, and their children, in the process of integration into their return community
• Empowering women, through strengthening of self-help capacities, and support to women to overcome the trauma and the difficulties they face when returning
• Empowering women in their self-awareness, ability for self-help, as well as support to overcome the trauma caused by the war and the war-related experiences
• Organizing women’s groups in returnee communities
• Support to children in their development/reducing negative effects of the conflict
• Co-existence and reconciliation among different ethnicities
• Strengthening of local communities
• Support to sustainable return by job creation
• Registration of women’s associations
• Regular meeting of women and children in their groups, aimed at socializing, counselling and educating through various lectures, workshops and courses.
• Sewing course in Divič and Đulići, designed on the basis of women’s wishes and needs. It represents one of the income generation or saving options, as women can produce clothing items for their household members.
• Establishing of women’s associations was initiated in four communities: Vidakova Njiva, Đulići, Snagovo and Atmačići.
• Public calls to women of different ethnic backgrounds to join Bosniak women in the clubs and to spend time with each other
• Continuous education in the fields of entrepreneurship, small business start-up, developing and improving micro-projects and similar
• Organizing of excursions and inter-club visits
• Playrooms for children
Children in playroms are organised in school and preschool groups age. Through socialization they make friendships, play, do homework, learn peacuful strategies for conflict resolutions and non-violent communication, develop tolerance, accept differencies.

500 returnee women of different age groups, and 220 children aged 3-12 benefited from this project.

The most significant achieved results:
• registered Women’s Associations in Snagovo, Vidakova Njiva, Atmačići, Đulići and Đulići
• A cooperative was registered in Snagovo
• at sewing courses, 100 women gained sewing techniques in 4 clubs
• Income generation of women by realization of micro-projects (green houses and renting agricultural machines), collecting membership fees from regular members
• With the support of the German Committee of Basic Rights and Democracy, about 70 children from the villages of return had vacation on the seaside within the “Vacation from War” project
• Partnership was established with other organizations providing additional services to our beneficiaries in the villages of return (Taldi, Bospo, Bosnian Initiative for Local Development, ICRC, Swiss Red Cross, Amica Educa, UNHCR Tuzla, Unicef etc. as well as local representatives).
• Peacebuilding workshops with the objective of reconciliation and cohabitate were realized in 2006 in primary schools of “Desanka Maksimović“ in Petkovci and „Sveti Sava“ in Snagovo, in which Bosniaks and Orthodox children, from 4th to 9th grade take. Workshops were realized twice a month in the a/m schools. The most important workshops topics were as follows: Affirmation skills, Active listening skills, Non- violent communication, Collaboration or cooperation, Loss and mourning, Life continuum, Loss and separation, Anger and rage, Releasing past, etc.