WeDoPurpose

When we first arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina I think we had a feeling about why were are but we would probably have had difficulty articulating it. There's a difference between telling stories about the activities that fill your day and providing some insight into what you believe they are achieving. For example I could recount tales from Novi Most's youth club of selling cappuccinos to under-priviledged young people who lived on a rubbish dump. A warm drink is always welcome during wintertime but we were providing more than just something to stave off the cold nights but providing a place where they could have a dignity they are so often deprived of in the rest of society. The drink hopefully made them feel good for a few minutes but its effect will always be short lived; building their self-worth is something that can have a positive influence on the rest of their lives. In everything we do we want to keep sight of the larger sense of purpose behind it.

At the 443rd Annual Diving Festival.
Before we left the UK we were told a survey said 77% of young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina would like the chance to leave the country. That's a scary thought and one that highlights the challenges of securing a better future for the country. It's not easy to be optimistic when so much news is not good news, but that can be said about most countries these days! Hope is that deep rooted inspiration that keeps people working to be the change they want to see. If we can inspire that then we will have done something that will last longer than our time in this country.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country still divided along ethnic lines. It's ingrained in the political and educational systems and has left its mark on the country's geography. This is a long way from the Communist ideology of everyone as 'brothers'. Today young people grow up often inheriting the grievances and prejudices of the previous generations instead of building friendship between different ethnicities. Call it acceptance or reconciliation, it is only the choice to put the past behind them that will give this generation the chance to build a better, viable, future for their nation.

Coming from the UK we had to learn a lot about the differences in the approach to education in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the days of Communist Yugoslavia knowledge was everything and still today pupils will be expected to know the names of all the mountains and rivers around their town, and a few other things besides! Learning by rote seems to be valued more highly than thinking for yourself. In a country that is on a path towards European integration, young people need to be helped to think for themselves. Creativity, whether it's through craft or cooking or making music, helps prepare them for whatever the future holds.