Pia Schneider (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Pia Schneider (BOSFAM); Pia is a joint Swiss and US national. She graduated from Tufts University in 1994 with a B.A. in International Relations. After a trip around the world, she then worked for three years as a Financial Analyst for Baita International LLC, a real estate company, in Atlanta, Georgia. Pia then took a year to study French at the Sorbonne in Paris. Deciding to remain in Europe, she then took a job with Andersen in Switzerland as a Consultant in the Corporate Finance Division. After three years with Andersen, she decided to pursue a Master’s Degree at Georgetown University, and graduated in May 2004 with an MBA.

Return to Bosnia Zurich

10 Nov

It has been three months almost to the day since I left Bosnia. I have thought about it often since then, especially the people I met and my friends at Bosfam. As winter is approaching, I have been wondering how the women are preparing for the cold weather. I had booked my flight to Sarajevo over two months ago, knowing I would want to see everyone again soon. I was quite looking forward to the trip, even though I would only be in Tuzla for a very short time.

I arrived at Bosfam at 9.30 in the morning, about a half an hour after I usually arrived during the summer. I was welcomed enthusiastically, with plenty of hugs and kisses from everyone, even the women I had never met before. Most were disappointed that I had not learned more Bosnian, but I assured them that I was taking lessons back home and would hopefully be able to communicate better the next time I come.

I spent two full days at Bosfam; not nearly enough time. Beba, the Director, was unfortunately only there for the first day as she had to go to Srebrenica to distribute clothing and school supplies to a group of school children – just one of the many projects she directs from her office at Bosfam. Nonetheless, I spent enough time with Beba to update myself on the current situation, both at Bosfam and in Bosnia in general.

Bosfam is still surviving and edging out its existence in Tuzla. The website, the project we focused on in the summer, is finished and will be going live soon. This will help to promote Bosfam’s products, as it will allow anyone anywhere to purchase the carpets and other items using a credit card.

I also updated Beba on some other avenues that I am pursuing independently as well as on the projects planned for next summer, the 10-year anniversary of the massacre in Srebrenica. She in turn told me of new projects they have started, including one in which they are training more women in the art of carpet weaving. That’s why I encountered so many new faces at Bosfam.

I also spent quite a bit of time with Hatema, my language teacher and friend, and met a new local intern, a psychology student who hopes to use what she has learned to help Bosfam directly. Things are moving along – maybe slower compared to how we are used to doing things back in the States or here in Switzerland, but nonetheless, it’s a sign of how much Bosfam is still needed and how much good it can still do in Tuzla and its surrounding villages.

The winter will be hard for all and I will do what I can to help the women earn income during this time by promoting their carpets through the website. And then I will be back in about 4 months – it seems that as soon as I leave, I plan another trip to come back. Maybe the legend behind the Sebilj fountain in Sarajevo is true: it is said that once you drink its waters, you can never leave Bosnia for too long. Maybe I drank too much…

Posted By Pia Schneider (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Posted Nov 10th, 2004

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