Unique Travel Study Program in Bosnia and Herzegovina This Summer for Students and Young Adults!
Be empowered. Be connected. Be Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Unique Travel Study Program in Bosnia and Herzegovina This Summer for Students and Young Adults!
An evening of music to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s independence.
A casual get-together, catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Kids and pets are welcome. We’ll provide light refreshments, but feel free to bring your picnic favorites.
An evening with Ajla Terzić
Moderated by Inda Swanke, Journalist.
Introduction by John K. Cox, Translator.
Merima Kljuco, accordion
Jelena Milusic, voice
“A splendid, utterly unexpected and unique piece of music…more imagination and creative energy was invested into these fifteen reinterpreted and rearranged compositions then in a hundred and fifteen newly written songs” — Miljenko Jergović (Bosnian-born author celebrated throughout Europe).
In December, 2017, at the residence of the Swedish Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States, Göran Lithell and his wife Karin, BHeart organized a fundraising art exhibit featuring works by Selma Selman, a Bosnian and Herzegovinian artist of Roma origin. An amount of $9,820 was raised in support of Roma children from a village Ruzica, near Bihac, western Bosnia. The project was designed to help seven carefully chosen, Roma girls to complete their elementary and high school education by providing them scholarships and training within a period of one year. It also envisioned school lunches for approximately 30 of Roma’s neediest children during one school year.
A local NGO Alfa was in charge of the project implementation while Natasa Goronja, the Vice President of Programs at Boulder Institute of Microfinance served as a volunteer consultant and liaison between Alfa’s and BHeart’s leadership. Selman, the children’s main source of inspiration and their mentor, remained involved with each step of the project’s implementation.
The scholarships were aimed at older Roma girls, who are most at risk of dropping out. Experience has shown that graduating from school is a critical milestone in terms of their potential success. The project aimed to reward the girls for the academic achievements they had already made and to propel them forward. The hope was that their success would serve as an example to others that there were benefits to staying in school.
Even though public elementary schools are free-of-charge in BH, kids from the poorer families are still at high risk of dropping out because their parents struggle with associated costs, such as school supplies and food. That is why the project also provided funding to cover the cost of lunches for the most disadvantaged children attending school.
Child Marriage: a Deep-Rooted Tradition
Discrimination and financial barriers are not the only reasons for a high number of dropouts among Roma children. A tradition of child marriage is an additional complication. According to the Helsinki Human Rights Committee, only 15 percent of all Roma children in BH graduate from elementary school. The figures for girls are even worse, due to the fact that so many drop out in 3rd or 4th grade and get married by the time they are 13, 14 or 15.
Experience from NGO Alfa, a project partner, has shown that keeping girls in school can address this issue in two ways. Firstly, girls who finish their basic schooling are more self-aware and less likely to be forced into an early marriage. Secondly, girls who succeed in their education have a better chance of breaking out of poverty, which is also an important factor in arranged marriages.
On May 11 2019, BHeart hosted Dr Alexander Lupis who gave a talk on the challenges and opportunities of raising multilingual children. The event was held at the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In 2016, BHeart continued to support Bosnian and Herzegovinian women victims of sexual violence from the 1992-95 war. Working in partnership with the Foundation for Women’s Empowerment (FWE), BHeart provided help to Gerc Sumejja, a Mostar-based, non-profit association for women victims of war violence. BHeart’s funds were used to purchase farming equipment for the most disadvantaged of Sumejja’s members. Women who received our help are either single mothers or caretakers for their husbands and/or other family members who are severely ill or disabled. Following BHeart’s purchase of the four motocultivator machines, the owner of the store from where the machines were purchased was inspired to donate an additional machine to Sumejja. Before the women were given the machines, they had no other choice but to rent them at the steep price of 50 KM ($27) per occasion, despite an overall monthly household budget that is as low as 400 KM ($215). As a result of the donation, the women and their families are now able to more efficiently and effectively cultivate their land. While we donated the machines to specific members of the association, they lend the machines cost-free to other women in the group. In December, BHeart Board member, Nevena Bosnic, currently living in Bosnia-Herzegovina, travelled to Mostar along with representatives from FWE to meet and visit Sumejja’s president and members. Nevena’s touching report from the ground is below: It is near impossible to fathom the realities faced by women victims of sexual violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There aren’t enough articles, reports, documentaries, Hollywood films, or books to understand what life is like for these women and the daily obstacles they face. Entering the small, multipurpose space in Potoci outside of Mostar, I was welcomed with a quote on the wall reading: “When you cross a bridge with outstretched hands, love, hope & friendship emerge.” My heart was racing. I felt an immediate rush of excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to meet the members of Sumejja. I was thrilled to finally put a face to the names of the women we worked with over the last few months. A door tag read Hana*, the organization’s president and outspoken advocate fighting to bring justice, hope, and support to her members. Entering the warm room, the walls were covered with certificates of thanks, posters for justice, and pictures of various individuals who have supported Sumejja over the years. We were greeted by two recipients of the motocultivators, Woman 1 and Woman 2 (to protect the privacy of Sumejja’s members and their children, we cannot reveal their names); the son of Woman 1; as well as warm and delicious zeljanica, or spinach pie, made by Woman 2. Dark and bold Bosnian coffee was roasting on the stove, and Hana was a few minutes away, heading back to the office after a meeting in Mostar’s center. The husband of Woman 3, ill and bed-ridden, stopped by to meet and thank us on behalf of his entire family, while Woman 4 was unable to join us due to a court appointment. When Hana walked into the room, she was a huge ball of energy and warmth. She walked into the room with a big smile, thrilled to meet the strangers who donated to her organization. Hugging and kissing Hana, I felt I had known her for years, not seconds. She has a way of making you feel like you are right where you belong. Upon our greeting, however, her smile transformed into a look of anxiety as she handed us the “Dnevni List Mostar” daily newspaper. That morning, they ran a front-page article identifying 21 individuals currently under investigation for war crimes. This came as news even to the named individuals, who received no formal documentation informing them of these investigations, while offering no protection to the women who brought cases against these men for their crimes. It was clear that being the first paper to print this news took priority over protecting the lives of the victims (witnesses) and their families. Sitting there, drinking coffee and eating zeljanica like any other day in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I learned about Hana’s painful past, including gruesome events while in a camp during the war. Hearing this made my stomach drop, skin crawl, and blood rush with anger and frustration. As a vocal advocate for women in her organization, fighting relentlessly to bring justice to the perpetrators, she detailed an aspect of her life I still struggle to comprehend: Retribution. She has survived many assassination attempts- from her car being bombed to almost getting run over by someone else’s car, and more. I am listening to her describe these events and struggling to understand that: This. Is. Her. Life. Not a movie. But what she deals with day in and day out. Hana survived horrific crimes during the war, and in her determination to bring this truth to light, she is again a target by the same, terrible individuals and their cronies. The victimization, stigmatization and lack of government support our women face each morning they wake up and night they lay their heads down to sleep- it’s all so difficult to wrap your head around. We turned the attention of our conversation back to our donation and the women who received the four motocultivators. Hana described the moment she was notified by FWE that her organization was selected by BHeart as the recipient of the machines. She spoke emotionally of the shock she felt learning that a group of strangers half-way across the world in Washington, D.C. found her organization, located in the outskirts of Mostar, and elected to support its members. She was hesitant to believe the news until the machines were delivered. Then the women showed me the pictures of their farmland, berries, and vegetables. Throughout the two-hour meeting, I found myself sitting in awe, listening to Hana speak of the association, its members, and their relentless efforts to support one another, and remain positive. It is truly an honor to support these strong and courageous women. However, none of this could have been possible without the generous donations of our supporters. And for you, we are ever grateful as are the women of Sumejja, whose words of acknowledgement read: “Our deepest and warmest thanks for your understanding and selfless support in strengthening the economic independence of women victims of war.” *Use of pseudonyms to protect the identity and confidentiality of our women
POCINJE UPIS U NOVI SEMESTAR! Naša škola jezika počinje ponovo sa nastavom 29. januara 2017. Nastava će se održavati nedjeljom, od 10-12 časova u (istim) prostorijama Hera Huba u Washingtonu, 5028 Wisconsin Ave NW, Suite 100; Tel: 1-202-803-2821. Važni datumi za dva semestra u 2017. godini su:
Obzirom da se u toku zimskih mjeseci mogu očekivati vremenske nepogode koje bi mogle prouzrokovati otkazivanje nastave, prvi semestar će trajati 9 sedmica, a drugi 7, kako bi se izbjeglo eventualno nadoknađivanje neodržanih časova. Molimo vas da ppopunjeni prijavni formular i potpisano izuzeće od osiguranja odgovornosti pošaljete na firstname.lastname@example.org najdalje do kraja dana u petak, 13. januara 2017. Ček naslovljen na „BHeart Foundation“ u iznosu od $160 po semestru, po polazniku (braća i sestre imaju popust od 15%), možete poslati na adresu: L. Celebic Jusufbegovic, 7500 Woodmont Avenue, #517, Bethesda MD 20814. FORMULARI ZA UPIS
O PROGRAMU Cilj programa za ucenje jezika i kulture Bosne i Hercegovine je da se djeca razlicitih uzrasta upoznaju s osnovnim vokabularom i frazama bosanskog jezika i da ih usvoje i koriste sa samopouzdanjem, te da mogu na bosanskom jeziku slusati i citati o svojoj zemlji, kulturi i obicajima. Program se temelji na njegovanju raznolikosti jezika i kulturne riznice Bosne i Hercegovine, tako da ce ponuditi sveobuhvatan vokabular i sve kulturno bogatstvo nase zemlje.
In partnership with the Embassy of Bosnia-Herzegovina, BHeart hosted a youth classical music concert at the Embassy on June 4, 2016. The concert celebrated the launch of a new youth language and cultural heritage program, which BHeart will organize at the Embassy this fall. The atmosphere at the well-attended concert was extremely warm and welcoming, with many children and families in the audience. A dozen young artists performed, most of whom will participate in the language program this fall. Over forty children of Bosnian-Herzegovinian origin in the Washington DC area have already signed up for the language program.
On April 18 2015, BHeart organized a concert featuring internationally-acclaimed musicians Merima Kljuco and Miroslav Tadic at the historic Lyceum in Alexandria. Aligned with BHeart’s mission to promote the cultural heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to encourage the diaspora youth to reconnect with their roots, the concert was a sell-out success and a deeply moving celebration of Balkan artists and culture. The accordionist Kljuco and the guitarist Tadic wowed the audience with a combination of compositions ranging from complex Balkan folk themes that feature unusual rhythmic, metric and melodic structures and materials to J.S. Bach, François Couperin and Erik Satie. Named one of the world’s 30 most radical and individual guitarists by Guitar Player Magazine, Miroslav Tadic has performed and recorded musical styles ranging from the Baroque and Classical periods to Blues, Jazz, Rock and World music. Merima Kljuco has an equally impressive career as a guest soloist with orchestras including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Holland Symphonia and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Kljuco was music director and composer of the “Sarajevo Red Line” (“Sarajevska Crvena Linija”) commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the siege of Sarajevo in 2012, and performed to 11,541 empty red chairs lining the city’s main boulevard, each representing a life lost.
In June 2014 BHeart raised $13,000 to support an association of women* who were victims of sexual violence during the 92-95 war. The project’s goal was to support the education of the women’s children identified as having the greatest needs and to maintain their meeting place. The project was implemented from September 2014 to July 2015 through BHeart’s local partner, the Bosana Foundation. The funds raised were used to:
The only administrative costs incurred were per diems paid for three visits to the association by Bosana Foundation volunteers in order to monitor the project’s implementation and impact. Better living and learning conditions have led to better school results for most children. A part of project funds were used to set up a small reward fund for children who achieved the best results during the school year. The other children also received a small reward. Most importantly the support these women and children received from BHeart has given them hope for a better future and have motivated them to fight for their rights. *To protect the privacy of these women and their children, we can’t reveal their names and their counseling organization. To find out more about this project, click here.
BHeart members and the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (ACBH) organized a Holiday Bazaar in Washington, D.C. featuring exquisite hand crafted products made by women in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH). Proceeds from the sale benefited Bosnian Handicrafts Inc., an organization that supports skilled craftswomen in BH, and the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting stronger US-BH relations. The event’s keynote speaker was Ms. Peggy Barry, President of Bosnian Handicrafts, Inc. She spoke about the current situation in BH and stressed the need to support Bosnian women.
BHeart founders organized a fun and educational event for children of Bosnian and Herzegovinian descent, hosted by the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Young people learned about their history and cultural heritage from Ivica Puljic, BH veteran journalist and Al Jazeera Balkans correspondent, while making new friends from the community. This was the first event organized at the Embassy for diaspora children.
Photo: Dean Zulich Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) is still heavily associated with war and suffering, 20 years after the conflict ended. BHeart founders teamed up with the BH Embassy to host an art exhibit that would break stereotypes and show that there is much more to our country. The “Bosnian Born… 20 years later” exhibit celebrated the creativity, perseverance and survival of human spirit through art, film, photography, design and fashion. It featured 27 artists who were born in BH and now live across the world. The Embassy registered a record number of visitors at the opening reception. Proceeds from the sold artwork benefited the Bosana Foundation, a California-based charity that provides scholarships to BH war orphans and other marginalized youth in the country.
“Bosnian Born artists – representing all Bosnian and Herzegovinian ethnic groups – refuse nationalistic divisions and recognize the cross-cultural influences that shaped them. BHeart members feel the same and that is why we were so proud to showcase their work.”
– Gorana Neskovic BHeart Board Member
BHeart founders’s first event was a reception at the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) in Washington, DC to raise funds for EDUS-Education for All. EDUS is a Sarajevo-based organization that helps families by raising awareness, fighting prejudice and providing specialized education to children with developmental disorders on its premises. Their work is essential because kids with developmental disorders in BH do not receive special government support or education until they are six years old. Even then, most affected children do not attend school and are often marginalized from society. This highly successful event raised over $16,000, 100% of which went directly to EDUS, empowering it to continue its groundbreaking work with 65 children, the majority of whom have autism.
“The success of BHeart’s first project inspired us to devote support to more activities that can help build a better Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
– Dzenita Mehic Saracevic BHeart Chair