BiH – Organizational Vision

The Bearing Witness retreat in Bosnia from 8th to 12th May 2017 is organized by ZPO Europe and modelled after the ZPO Auschwitz retreat. The initial idea of the retreat was proposed back in 2014 by Patrick van der Hofstad, a Dutch Zen Peacemaker.

The Bosnia retreat 2017 aspires to be a training opportunity for ZPO members with the Three Tenets as the container, several ZPO core practices (council, liturgy, meditation, etc.), local relevance and participation, a trained and experienced ZPO leadership – the context being international and interfaith.

The retreat was designed and agreed on during several internet meetings by an organizing group of European ZPO National Stewards, consisting of Barbara Wegmüller, Michel Dubois, Iris Dotan-Katz, Jozo Novak, Roberto Mander, Cornelius Collande, Agniezska Poliszuk-Konopek, Petra Hubbeling and Frank De Waele.

This group agreed to work together as peers.
We strove to an alternative, but sound financial set-up of the retreat by cutting costs, fundraising, prioritizing scholarships to local, young people and envisioning a shared responsibility and solidarity. We want to involve and empower participants by asking them to donate part of the retreat fee as a funding for scholarships.

The retreat donation is a suggested amount of € 850, which is composed of a minimum fee and a donation.
The minimum fee is set at € 700 and will cover all the actual costs of the retreat (accommodation, food, transport, guides, insurances, organizing costs, public relations, etc.), except lodging in Sarajevo and transport to Sarajevo.
People will be encouraged to pay the suggested amount of € 850. Yet each participant can personally decide on a donation of their own choice, apart from the minimum fee of € 700. With these donations we will fund scholarships.

Scholarships will be assigned to twenty young Bosnians, who participated in the four day Council Training in March 2016, for which funds were raised in Europe. They will also be offered a daylong pre-retreat Council Training on 7th May in Sarajevo. A free donation for the retreat will be asked to this group of participants.
A few other scholarships will be given to some participants and guests, selected by the organizing group.
No honoraria will be paid to Staff Members or Spirit Holders, who will pay their own retreat fee and travel costs. Specific for this retreat is that all the preparatory and organizing work is done by volunteers.

Contacts will be established with local groups of expats from former Yugoslavia an with NGOs who have worked in the region.


The actual organization of logistics happens through Jozo Novak in close cooperation with our local Bosnian partners Vahidin Omanovic and Mevludin Rahmanovic.

Technically, the legal organizing body is the religious organization Zen Peacemakers Low Lands, which will handle registrations, insurances and finances. Yet the BW Retreat Bosnia 2017 is organized by ZPO Europe, not by the Zen Peacemakers Lowlands.

Registration will be done by Petra Hubbeling, board member of the Zen Peacemakers Low Lands.

The budget of the retreat was prepared and agreed on by the organizing group, which estimates that forty paying participants will sign up for the retreat.

Part of the possible benefits will be donated to local Bosnian peacemaking projects, chosen by ZPO Europe. Another part will cover previous, preparatory costs and ZPO Europe will be given the last part, specifically destined for European ZPO projects. The Center for Peacebuilding in Bosnia will be reimbursed a compensation for their organizational work. These amounts will be published on our website.
As of this moment fundraising has already brought in some funds.

Bosnia / by

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