Ana Mihajlovic '14 received a Davis Project for Peace award to empower disabled people in Bosnia.

Student’s Peace Project Will Empower Disabled People in Bosnia

April 17, 2013

Ana Mihajlovic '14 is one of a select group of students nationally to receive funding from Davis Projects for Peace to support a summer peace initiative of her own design. Her project, "Stepping out from the Shadow," seeks to empower the handicapped population in the Northeast region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. She will receive $10,000 from Davis Projects for Peace to cover the costs of the project.

Mihajlovic, whose mother is a paraplegic, grew up in the region where her project will be based. She is familiar with many of the challenges faced by disabled people there.

"Bosnia is a poor country, and social services are quite limited," she says. "Many disabled people are very isolated due to poverty and stigma. I have personally been able to help my mother find resources and learn about her rights, but not all disabled people have family members to advocate for them."

A Focus on Communication and Information

During the course of the project, Mihajlovic will work with several advocacy organizations in the region to foster better communication with the disabled population about the services that are available to them, and even their legal rights.

To this end, Mihajlovic’s project will include the planning of a conference which leaders of various organizations for the disabled will meet and talk about the issues and make plans for better coordination of activities. The project will facilitate the creation of an informational website for disabled people which will be maintained by representatives of the participating organizations. Five organizations will also receive computers so that they can provide Internet access to members who otherwise would not be able to afford it.

Mihajlovic, a double major in business and non profit management and international studies, believes that her academic background and the two internships she has completed have given her the organizational and relational skills necessary to assure the success of her project.

“This region is divided ethnically, so there are different organizations for Serbs and Bosniaks,” Mihajlovic explains. “So I had to approach them very respectfully and convince them that I had something to offer, and that I would follow through. I think that by being honest and showing passion, I gained their trust.”

A Legacy of Peacemaking

Now in its sixth year, the Davis Projects for Peace program is an opportunity for undergraduates at the American colleges and universities in the Davis United World College Scholars Program to design grassroots projects that they will implement during the summer of 2013. The projects judged to be the most promising and feasible will be funded at $10,000 each. The objective is to encourage and support today's motivated youth to create and try out ideas for building peace.

The Davis Projects for Peace are supported by Kathryn Wasserman Davis, an accomplished internationalist and philanthropist. Upon the occasion of her 100th birthday in February of 2007, Mrs. Davis, mother of Shelby M.C. Davis who funds the Davis UWC Scholars Program, chose to celebrate by committing $1 million for 100 Projects for Peace. She has continued to fund the projects during each subsequent summer.

During the seven years of the program’s existence, 10 projects created by Earlham students have been funded by Davis Projects for Peace. In all, nearly 800 projects in more than 100 countries have been funded.

Plowshares Professor of Peace Studies Welling Hall says Mihajlovic’s project represents the best that Earlham has to offer in terms of commitment to peace, social justice, and building bridges between communities.

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