I have always seen the world as a big Tower of Babel. Yet a tower where God melted not only languages, but also cultures and customs, passions and interests, making its inhabitant an ambivalent creature, who contains the "I" and the "non-I", the self and the other, the similar and the stranger.
Peace building and conflict prevention in the Balkan area
Starting from the idea of children as a proper vehicle for confidence building, the programme ‘Babylon’ was designed to gather children from every nationality together and try to build up friendships that would have overcome the inter-ethnic antagonism among adults in the Balkan area.
In 1999-2000 first Babylon centres were opened in Tetovo and other towns in Macedonia in collaboration with ‘Loja’, a local ngo. In the Babylon centres children could practise different educational and recreational activities followed by trained teachers. The initiative was very successful especially for children and their parents: positive development was that children were starting to cooperate with each other no matter of their nationality. Moreover, good results of the activities lead to the involvement of local authorities and children’s parents.
As part of this programme, a new project started in 2004 in Kakanj Municipality (Bosnia and Herzegovina) to promote the cooperation among children and young people of the different ethnic communities. The peculiarity of the process in Kakanj consisted in the close and direct cooperation of the different local religious authorities, which supported and interacted with the Mayor in most of the main community’s issues. This was a very important aspect for the future sustainability of the community confidence and peaceful-coexistence.
The Babylon Projects were copied in other countries by many others actors (among them: UNICEF, World Bank). The Babylon Projects are recognized as a success story by the Open Society.
For more information about training on conflict prevention and mediation in multi-ethnic communities: http://lgi.osi.hu/.
* Extract from "L'altro", original title "Ten Inny", Feltrinelli Milano 2007