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Break the Cage

Article

Bosnia and Herzegovina is facing a number of issues that hinder its progress. One of the them is the lack of a collective unifying identity that connects all of its citizens. Almost all aspects of life in Bosnia and Herzegovina are overshadowed by politics which in return creates a pressure on most people to form opinions on “others” in their communities, especially children, out of which many have been raised in such a way since their birth. Taking into account their upbringing, the environment in which they live in and the fact that children are often not taught or even allowed to think critically, many children live in a “cage” made of stereotypes and prejudices towards others.

Our EDVACAY Fellows Merjema Srna, Hana Halilbegović, Kristina Gadže and Emar Đonlić aim to bring the divided Bosnian society together in a fun and artistic way through their project. The team members will create a coloring book depicting three birds living together peacefully. The birds are supposed to represent the three main ethnic groups of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats, who live in a divided society and within the realms of their respective ethnic/religious group.

To create the coloring book, the team joined forces with Senior Fellow Kerim Hodžić (2020 John Lewis Fellowship) who will create the bird characters and different situations in which the birds will be presented in as working together in unity. After the book is done the team members will promote the book in schools and kindergartens and also do a live promotional event. The main goal for developing the coloring book is to teach young children, through illustration, how different kinds of ethnic/religious groups can still cohabit together peacefully and happily.

False information and lack of interaction between regions in Bosnia and Herzegovina result in the inability to live in a healthy and peaceful environment. To avoid this, we believe that it is crucial to teach children to respect all people in BiH and around the world. Our goal is to create a coloring book that will bring true values closer to children and young people in a fun way with representative characters, emphasizing the importance of collective identity.