For the past 6 weeks I’ve been working for USAID Bosnia in their Democracy, Human Rights and Governance office. I’ve had some incredible experiences, met some amazing people (both Bosnian and American) and have learned far more than I expected about Bosnia, the functions of USAID in Bosnia–it’s impact in the country, and the interactions between US government entities and the NGO sectors of foreign countries. I’ve also completed concrete tasks, and am in the process of writing multiple reports regarding Civil Society as well as Reconciliation and youth projects USAID is involved in.
When initially starting with USAID, I was a bit weary of the U.S. government sector internationally. I was worried it’s impact may be detrimental to the establishment of a citizen led representative democracy. However, these initial perceptions and worries have almost entirely dissipated through further investigation, learning about the projects and programs local NGOs implement with the help of USAID. For example, this past week I joined a colleague on an overnight sight visit to Brod and Brcko municipalities to visit three programs which provide youth (and when I say youth, I really actually mean people my age) with innovative education and skills training to not only increase their chances of obtaining substantial work in Bosnia but also to promote reconciliation between ethnic groups in divided cities. The following picture is of the head of a local NGO in Brcko (and me of course!) in front of a playground completely created by youth in the “Youth Building Futures in Brcko District” program. It is really inspiring to see that USAID really is contributing to some fantastic and effective programs throughout Bosnia.