"So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead."
James 2:17

Destroyed Home



With the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in December 1995, the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina stopped. Today, although there are no bullets flying, there are still wars of a different nature.

A silent ethnic war is still very much alive within the country. Dayton managed to divide the country into two sections, The Republic of Serbska (RS) and the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina (FBH). Within the RS, if you are not of Serbian origin you are in the minority and usually in the back of the line when it comes to jobs and services. Within FBH, there is a patchwork of regions where one ethnic group holds control over the others depending on who was in control when the war ended. The people are living side by side but the lines of discrimination are still drawn. In many cases, people wish to return home but are unable due to political bias. This is a war that St. David's will not touch. We assist where we are invited, regardless of the political and ethic mix of a region. With this policy, we feel that we are not a party to any favoritism and thus not adding to this complex problem.

Another type of war is the psychological war in the mind and hearts of those who lost loved ones and their homes. This war is deeply embedded within the population. For more than two generations – over 50 years – the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina have experienced war and Communism. The current transition from Communism to democracy and from war to peace, simultaneously, has staggering effects. There are no statistics to measure this problem but one only has to talk to the people to realize the enormity of this dilemma. One brief example is Marija (name changed) from Sarajevo. During the war she stayed in Sarajevo with her family and endured daily shelling, food and water shortages and no electricity for over three years. Her father, a non-soldier, was called into service and, shortly thereafter, was killed. Later, on August 28, 1995, she lost her 14-year-old brother as he stood in the bread queue in the Markele Marketplace. The mortar killed 37, wounded 90, and changed the tide of the war. Today she lives with her mother in a small rented apartment. Her mother works, and Marija maintains three jobs. On the surface she seems to be managing with the past very well. But one only has to look into her eyes to see that she and thousands of others will need more than this world could offer to heal the psychological scars that still remain. For these victims of this internal war, St. David's asks for your prayers of reconciliation.

A war of poverty and unemployment continues to exist. With an average salary of $195.00 and an average retirement pension of $73.00 per month, much assistance is still needed throughout the country. According to entity statistical bureaux, the unemployment rate in the country has steadied at around 40 percent. In a modern world, 10 percent unemployment indicates a serious problem. During the war, many rural populations were forced into the larger cities to escape the front lines of fighting. In major cities like Sarajevo, Mostar and Banja Luka they have found themselves without jobs and long-term housing solutions. These Internally Displaced Persons as defined by UNHCR number over 400,000. A further 426,000 people have refugee status outside of Bosnia-Herzegovina. People will return if given the right opportunities and humanitarian aid to do so. In the past 12 months the encouraging news is that 80,000 have returned home. One of St. David's objectives is to promote the return of citizens to their communities where they lived before the war in self-sufficiency.

Although the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed seven years ago, today it is difficult to witness seven years of peacetime progress. This is in many ways no fault of the victims of the conflict, but rather the lack of publicity, funds, and the fact that it takes time to organize the relief of an entire country. Bosnia-Herzegovina, not much larger than Switzerland, was devastated. Entire communities were uprooted and forced into major cities and to foreign countries. Many dream of returning to their homes but in many cases it is not possible without the initial catalyst to begin the return, which includes the reconstruction of homes, water and electrical systems, jobs, and the removal of land mines. In Christian communities, the first element to facilitate return is the Church. Once the Church is functioning, people begin to return. With the exception of land mine removal, St. David's looks to assist communities in the areas of humanitarian relief that initiate programs that promote the return of citizens to their communities.

Our plan for 2003 is to push programs that allow people to take ownership in what we offer.


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