Bosnia’s NGOs have marked September 21, International Peace Day, with an event in Sarajevo called “Peace Starts with a Smile“.
More than a 100 children, teenagers, activists and, representatives from a wide range of civil society organizations gathered in front of Sarajevo’s cathedral to symbolically mark International Peace Day by reading a “Pledge of Peace” and releasing dozens of white doves. The Pledge of Peace was carried to Sarajevo by a team of cyclists, who had cycled from the old medieval Bosnian town of Bobovac. The pledge promises that youth will do all they can to fight for peace. “We took part in this 50 kilometre ride to support this event. We want to remember how in the old days messengers brought tokens and messages of peace. This is our message and pledge. Healthy youth for a healthy future,” said Velimir Gavran, who led the team of cyclists. The group of NGOs who organized the event are all part of the Network for Building Peace, which is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). David Barth, the USAID Mission Director for Bosnia and Herzegovina, said at the event that the members of the network are the Bosnian “champions of peace”. “We must never forget the past, but we must vow not to let this innocent youth live through the same things others had to live through,” said Barth. Activists from some of the participating organizations held boards with anti-war messages, asking for peace in troubled regions of the world, such as Syria and Afghanistan. Sumka Bucan, a member of the Care International NGO, said that the event was especially significant in Sarajevo given the country’s recent war past
“We are very pleased that more than a 100 NGOs have taken part in this event, the aim of which is to support peace and life in Bosnia. It is important that Bosnian citizens of different ethnicities, see that there are more things that bring us together then those that divide us,” said Bucan. International Peace Day was marked in 12 cities across Bosnia and Hercegovina.