CCPN's First Years, August 1997 - December 1998
The first years of existence of the Centre for Culture of Peace and Nonviolence, 1997 and 1998, were years of intensive work and the overcoming of many difficulties.
After initial planning at the beginning of 1997, and the funding of a conference in August of the same year, the organisation was formally registered in November 1997, and began to engage in its program activities, even without any financial support. The biggest problems we had in that period were financial: paying for the office and work space, communication equipment and costs, staff salary, and, most important, finding funding for programs. The weak members' engagement, as well as the slow building of the teams for specific CCPN programs, was due to the poor financial status of the organisation.
Until November 1998, the CCPN had no work space. Until May, CCPN used the address and workshops space in the Women's Centre "Iva", and worked on some common projects with the Women's Centre. After "Iva" moved to a new house, CCPN existed for a few months without an address or a budget. In these circumstances it was very hard to build the membership and the teams, as well as to make and keep contacts.
Deficiency of the budget for professional engagement of (at least) one person was one of the biggest problems in 1998. Volunteers' work was limited to late afternoon hours or weekends, after the usual working hours of other institutions and organisations. We did not often have the means to travel or to develop personal contacts.
Although the financial situation in 1997 and 1998 was difficult, the CCPN was very active. The activities were focused on making contact with different organisations and institutions, local and international NGOs and GOs, foundations and individuals. We met with and developed plans for co-operation with different groups, and lobbied on behalf of the idea of the CCPN. Many contacts were made in Tuzla, and a few were made while traveling. Several different project proposals were sent to foundations and donors all over the world, which resulted in a few positive answers and serious talks about the possibility of ongoing co-operation.
In 1997/98, the CCPN realised several projects of its own, and participated in a number of others as an implementing partner to different organisations.
Project "Miramida - 7" ("Yes for Peace!), in which the CCPN trainer Cvijeta Novakovic was included in a trainers' team, took place in Banjaluka (Republika Srpska). This project, organised by the AntiWar Campaign of Croatia and the HCA office in Banjaluka, was a source of new contacts for discussions of further co-operation. Partnership was made with the "Centre for Peace, Non-violence and Human Rights" from Osijek, whose president, Mrs. Katarina Kruhonja, visited the Miramida training in company with Mrs. Margareta Ingelstam and Mr. Adam Curle, well-known, experienced international peace workers. Agreement was reached on a joint project, "Partners for the Future", which was realised at the end of 1998.
In December of 1997 there began the project "Maiden Evenings", a cycle of 10 two-hour workshops for a group of young women, mostly students, which was completed in May 1998. The project was carried out without any financial support. The Centre for Women "Iva" provided the space, while CCPN prepared and facilitated all the workshops, without salary for the trainer or co-ordinator.
In January 1998, CCPN was the implementing partner in the Training in Non-violent Communication, which was held in Gornji Vakuf. This three-day training was organised by the Youth Club/UNOV Gornji Vakuf, for young people from both parts of the town, Bosnian and Croatian. Both the participants and organiser were very satisfied with the training, as well as with the trainers. This resulted in a partnership between the CCPN and the Centre for Non-violent Action/KURVE Wustrow (CNA Sarajevo), with plans for future common projects.
The next project in which CCPN was included as implementing partner was a training in Conflict Resolution / Transformation for the Youth Network "Something More", of Sarajevo. The training was held 10-12 March in Neum, for a big group of young people from NGOs from both entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In April-May 1998, CCPN realised the project "Little Workshops of Non-violence," a cycle of five three-hour workshops for teachers. Quakers Peace and Service, London, covered the project. The participants gave high marks to all the workshops and to the trainers of the CCPN team.
In May 1998, the CCPN carried out a one-day training for all the participants in the large "Voice of Youth" conference organised by OSCE and NDI offices in Tuzla, and held in Tuzla, 13-17 May. It was one of the first meetings of representatives and members from different political parties and organisations (GO and NGO) from all post-Yugoslav countries. As the implementing partner, the CCPN prepared and facilitated a one-day training, with a team of 6 trainers, composed of experienced trainers from Croatia (Anti-War Campaign, Zagreb, and Centre for Peace, Non-violence and Human Rights, Osijek), and B&H (Centre for Non-violent Action, Sarajevo and CCPN, Tuzla), which worked in three groups. The organisers and participants were well content with the training day, and expressed their desire for further co-operation.
As an implementing partner, CCPN was included in the Training in Non-violent Communication for young people from NGOs from the critical area of the Balkans (both parts of B&H, Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia). The training, organised by the Centre for Non-violent Action and Scholen Helfe Lieben, Sarajevo, was held in Budapest, from the 1st to the 12th June 1998, in the difficult days at the beginning of the war in Kosovo.
From the 20th to 31st July 1998, in Teslic (Republika Srpska), was held the Training in Conflict Resolution for Teachers, organised by Pax Christi, Youth Bridge and Vidra from Banjaluka, in which the CCPN was an implementation partner, together with CNA.
"Partners for the Future" was the first big project the CCPN realised in 1998, which brought some important changes for the organisation. The project is a part of the long-term project of the World Council of Churches, Geneva, "Peace to the City", which is in turn part of their "Project to Overcome Violence".
"Partners for the Future" was initiated in November 1997 by Mrs. Margaret Ingelstam, Katarina Kruhonja, and Cvijeta Novakovic, and consists of two parts.
The first part was to include Tuzla, represented by CCPN, as the 9th city in the international "Peace to the City" network. All preparation for that part of the project was made in very short time, but correctly, and satisfactorily to the donor.
The second part of the project was the seminar "Partners for the Future," which gathered 25 participants from 15 different organisations from Bosnia and Herzegovina (Tuzla and Zenica) and Croatia (Osijek and Vukovar). Expected guests from Northern Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland unfortunately could not come because of some important international meetings and their own projects, held at the same time, but contacts for future co-operation were established nonethless.
The main aims of the seminar "Partners for the Future" were the promotion of interethnic and inter-religious dialogue, and the strengthening of relationships between municipal governments, non-governmental organisations, and churches.
"Partners for the Future" was an example of the great co-operation with the Centre for Peace, Non-violence and Human Rights, Osijek, and weekly co-operation with Vive Zene from Tuzla. There was very good co-operation with the municipalities of Tuzla and Osijek, whose representatives participated in the seminar, as did representatives from churches from both cities. The event was broadcast by a few local radio stations: "Tuzla," "Chameleon" and "Radio Soli," as well by "Radio FERN," which broadcasts to both parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The seminar is only a first result of the project "Partners for the Future," which is meant to be a long-term project to strengthen co-operation between the two cities (as well as to draw more cities into the network) and between authorities, NGOs and religious institutions in the local communities.
After a difficult beginning in 1997 and two years of work, many changes and results are visible in the CCPN, though many problems, mostly arising from our precarious financial status, remain.
Education and strengthening of the CCPN team is currently our most important task.
In 1999 the CCPN, empowered by its experiences, visible results, and new facilities, is encouraged to continue its work.
Tuzla, January 1999
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