When people think of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the automatic image for many is of a war torn country etched with ethnic complexities. On a recent World Scout Foundation field visit, our members found that whilst war is a thing of the past, the history of ethnic differences is a barrier that is still being broken down in modern day Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Many organisations and charities are working to break this barrier, but the project 'Scouts Can Do It' is having the greatest impact. Why? Because regardless of their individual nationality, belief or culture, Scouts the world over share the same value – the value of peace.
Four years ago, with the help of the US Embassy and Council of Scout Associations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the innovative project ‘Scouts Can Do It’ was launched. In its first year it brought together two Scout units from different Associations, different ethnicities and different sides of war and allowed Scouts to have the opportunity to talk, laugh and make lasting friendships. Its success resulted in its expansion and thus included troops from neighbouring Serbia the following year.
Four years on and 5000 Scouts later the project is continuing to offer something no other organisation does – the rare opportunity for Scouts to join with the same friends from historically conflicting communities to build peaceful, meaningful and lasting relationships through peace dialogue, learning by doing and determination.
This project is demonstrating that every argument, every war and every story has two or more sides. By bringing people together in the name of Scouting rather than in the name of politics, opinion and even history, creates an atmosphere that surpasses efforts of peace that have gone before. The camps and interethnic activities have provided thousands of Scouts with the opportunity to see and hear stories from the ‘other-side’ of the barrier, and more importantly has given this Scouting generation the opportunity to nurture new cultures built through friendship.