Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Reconciliation Through Play

Project #
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Barnard College
  • Ajla Karajko

Reconciliation Through Play

Ajla grew up during a time when it was not possible for children in her country to play safely. She used her Davis Projects for Peace grant to build a school playground and recreational facilities to ensure that the current generation of children in the town of Goles can not only play safely, but that Muslim and Serbian children can come together for fun. Ajla chose the town of Goles because it was the town where her father grew up and it was completely devastated during the war.

With the cooperation of the local government and school officials and the design help of an architect, Ajla oversaw the construction of a multipurpose sports mini playground, an area for outdoor ceremonies and activities, a swing area, and a park with footpaths. She worked with teachers to ensure that physical education will be a part of the curriculum and that reconciliation will be a goal of the use of the new facilities. She involved local media and organized an opening ceremony for the new outdoor spaces that was attended by all of the town’s children and most of the adults. While the school building is still very basic, the children can now play safely outside and take part in a physical-fitness program, and hopefully the joy of outdoor play will be a tool for resolution and reconciliation.