Students of Sixth elementary school in Mostar are jointly paying visit to religious institutions in order to learn about coexistence and religion of their friends from school.

”Visiting mosques and churches has taught me that our differences should not be a source of separation but connection. I have learned that we all need to play and hang around together”, said eleven year old Džana after visiting orthodox and catholic church and a mosque.

Words of this student become quite important when you are aware of the fact that her city nowadays is a symbol of divided people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, even after war that ended 20 years ago.

She is one of around 70 pupils of third and fifth grade who together visited serbian Congregational church, Franciskan monastery and parish and a mosque in Cernica.

Džena’s friend, ten year old Hana, says she liked the inner look of churches and a mosque. She is happy because her and her coleagues have learned that nor religion, nationality or any other difference amongst the people are not the reason for partition. ”It is not a reason why we can’t be friends”, said the student of a fifth grade.

Together with girls who attend islamic religious education was also eight years old Andrej who attends Orthodox religios education, as well as his peer Pia who does not attend religious education at all. But that did not stop her from enjoying her visit. She felt good in the mosque and even tought that day was very hot she did not take off the scarf she put on her head during a visit to the mosque.

Andrej, on the other hand, enjoyed visiting Franciskan monastery because of colourful mosaics. They all say they want to go and pay a visit to religious institutions not only in their city, but in other places as well.

Common visit

Teacher of islamic religios education Elvedina Kazazić last year got the idea to visit different institutions.  Seeing great reaction of children and their parents and after they made a deal with their teacher coleagues, children who are attending Orthodox religious education joined the visits followed by their teacher, priest Radomir Krulj. Children who do not attend this type of teaching were there too.

”They are nine, ten, eleven years old. They are all honest children, with pure souls”, said teacher Kazazić.

”I am sure every religion teaches us  coexistance, love, tolerance, respecting differences”, she added.

Goal of visits like these is meant for children to welcome respect toward every religion and to honestly build an attitude of respecting spiritual values of different cultures and civlizations, as well as to develop capability of respecting number of approaches.

Learning about the others

One of the hosts in the mosque in Cernica, the chief imam of majlis of Islamic community in Mostar Suljo-ef. Cikotic, stated that prejudices and barriers must be removed. The best way to do that is to represent what is positive in the light of the real values.

He is happy to talk about his faith to people who never were in the mosque. ”I am pleased we were in the opportunity to teach this children that our differences should be observed as one enormous treasure. This way we can get to know each other and see how much open and attentive we are”, said Cikotić.

Children’s smile

As he had stated, he is happy that children were enjoying their visit. He hopes there will be more of them in the future. ”We are always open for others to visit us and we want to visit others as well”.

Branislav Rajković expressed merriment due to visit made by students from Mostar, too. He is a deacon of The Eparchy of Zahumlje, Herzegovina and the Littoral.  He sees visits to other religious institutions as a positive happening from the point of educating.

”Education is not something that simply occurs in the classroom. It spreads and it is happenning outside, in a whole community. I am pleased to see that beside the orthodox, that intension on local level is common to rimocatholic church and islamic community too”, said deacon Rajković.

He points out as an important the fact that the principals, teachers and religious teachers understood that ”the biggest failure and sin towards the youth is that they are not being taught to love, but hatred and animosity, regardless of their beliefs”.

Hosts and guests

Deacon was especially pleased to see the children of all nations, not only one. ”They were here in a unique visit because in one moment they were the hosts, in another one they were guests. It was mutual visit and hospitality.”

He says politicians in some way are the reason Mostar is a divided city, but points out that this children are proving  it is unique in a different ways.

”Trend started by the Sixth elementary school is slowly accepted by the others”, he added. We had joint visits of two elementary schools, out of which one is working according to croatian, and the other one according to bosnian educational plan.

Deacon Rajković thinks a positive wave of events is occuring because among visitors you can see highschool children from Mostar.

”Things like these should be present in entire Bosnia and Hercegovina. Education of young through practice is a way of overcoming divisions. It is much more easier to manipulate people, agitate them one against another when it comes to impersonal people as a part of an ethnic community. It is way more harder to oppose them when they know one concrete Serb, Muslim or Croat”.

Effendi Suljo Cikotic says they had had visit from Catholic school center from Sarajevo and other schools and stresses that Islamic community has excellent relations with other reliogious communities in this Hercegovina’s city.

Teacher Kazazić says the integral part of educational program of Islamic teaching in her school will be a visit to churches and mosques. She found out the same refers to children from classes of Orthodox religious teaching. So to speak, it is planned that every child who ends the Sixth elementary school visits all three religious institutions at least once.

Source: Al Jazeera

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