937: Bosnia-Herzegovina Rotarians celebrate rebuilding of Mostar Bridge
- Bosnia-Herzegovina Rotarians celebrate rebuilding of Mostar Bridge
When the Rotary Club of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, was chartered in
2002, one of the issues uppermost in the minds of its members was how
to heal their community, torn apart by a brutal war that pitted one
ethnic group against another.
Quite deliberately, from the multiethnic composition of its
membership to the projects that it sponsored, the club set out to
foster reconciliation and reunification in the divided city of
Mostar. In terms of visibility and power of symbolism, the rebuilding
of Mostar Bridge is one of the club's most important initiatives.
"[Our 21] members are highly esteemed citizens of Mostar from all
three nationalities Muslims, Croats, and Serbs. The number of
members of each nationality roughly corresponds to the composition of
the community," explains Drahomir Mirovich, a past president of the
club and an assistant governor of District 1910. "[We have a] perfect
balance and excellent relationship among members of different ethnic
backgrounds. [There are] no politicians among the membership."
Rotarians proposed to city leaders to rebuild the 427-year-old
historic landmark, which was destroyed by hostile tank-shell fire in
1993, to signal that it was time to repair the physical and emotional
damage that the war had inflicted on Mostar.
After winning the approval of politicians, technical experts, and
residents, Rotarians took the lead in mobilizing international
support and raising funds for the project. For example, Rusmir Cisic,
an architect, served as head of the bridge reconstruction unit, and
Tomislav Rozic, a civil engineer, was his deputy.
Professor Amir Pasic, an architect, and Marin Raspudic, the Mostar
airport director and current club president, are two other Rotarians
who have been closely involved with the rebuilding of the stone
bridge. Both served as chief organizers of the 23 July opening
ceremony for the completed bridge.
Peter Gut, a past governor of District 2000 (Liechtenstein; part of
Switzerland) and member of the Rotary Club of Küsnacht-Zurich, has
played a key role in coordinating international support for the
efforts of the Mostar club.
"My involvement started with the task of Rotary extension into
Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall," he says. "I was
appointed a special representative of the RI president in the region.
That's how I came to spend two years actively involved with helping
to charter new Rotary clubs in Bosnia-Herzegovina. That function has
been terminated, but I'm still heavily involved through humanitarian
Gut is most closely associated with Education for Peace, a Mostar
club project aimed at educating students in conflict resolution and
peacemaking. More than 400 teachers and staff and 6,000 students and
parents are involved in the project. As it expanded, the initiative
caught the eye of the Bosnia-Herzegovinia government, which plans to
take it to all schools in the nation.
Source: Rotary International Newsroom