20 young individuals from Bosnia and Herzegovina met last September in a workshop on “Peaceful Living for Children and Young People” organized by the Academy for Religious Studies (MARS) and the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) – Europe, to reflect on their different cultural perspectives and common beliefs. They were part of three religious communities: Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox. In an experiential way they reflected on issues related to their life together, such as finding commonalities & diversities, reflecting on values that they share, discovering the value of every person, learning to see beyond differences, prejudices and stereotypes, etc. They visited the temples of 4 different religions, Muslim, Catholic, Jew and Orthodox and in an inter-religious evening they introduced their religions to others in an atmosphere of respect and mutual understanding.
Coming from different life experiences they went through a self-reflective process of awakening to the needs and feelings of others. This helped them to reinforce the conviction that conflicts can be resolved peacefully.
In the last part of the workshop they focused their work on ways to continue working together and followoing their own commitments for transforming the world.
They were all aware of one of the biggest social issue nowadays, the fact that in Europe children and young people are facing many problems of intolerance, racism and xenophobia. Violence in schools is also a growing problem in many countries. They reinforced their conviction that young people from different faith and religious communities, together with those without a religious faith, can play a significant role in addressing these issues.
As a result of these reflections they decided to continue working together with a focus on peace building among children and young people. In order to be effective in doing this they decided to explore the possibility to create a youth for peace network. This would be a flexible network of young people who are ready to work with others in an atmosphere of openness and mutual respect. They will continue having the support of the Institute for Religious Studies (MARS) and NGO working with youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) at the European level.
Participants expressed their gratitude to the organizers, Ms. Marta Palma from the GNRC Europe and Ms. Maida from MARS. They also showed their appreciation for the good work done by the facilitators: Ms. Marija Celam and Jasmina Dizdarevic from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mrs. Laura Molnar from the Sancta Katrina Centre in Romania and Mrs. Isabelle Wachsmuth from the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.