- International volunteers return to Bosnia ArcelorMittal has organised its fourth Solidarity Holidays in Prijedor, in northwest Bosnia where it has its mining operations, as part of the annual corporate responsibility (CR) project “Camp of Children’s Smiles”. This unique project brings together 100 elementary school children and their teachers from different ethnic backgrounds to learn about other ethnicities living in this post-conflict region through a set of educational workshops. The children’s camp has been implemented in collaboration with the local NGO DON and the workshops are being held from 13 April to 17 April in the Kozara Mountain national park.
This year’s volunteering programme has gathered ArcelorMittal’s employees from Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, and the USA.
The project aims to develop children’s multicultural skills and teach them to understand and appreciate their ethnically-diverse community which is still healing from the consequences of the conflicts that occurred more than 20 years ago. As well as school activities, adapted to the outdoor surrounding, they also gain useful skills through interactive sports and art workshops and learn about environment, traffic, photojournalism and media.
“As the major employer in Prijedor, we are dedicated to supporting our local community and since our arrival 10 years ago we have implemented around 220 different projects as part of our Community Investment programme. Additionally, during the catastrophic floods that happened in our country last year, we have set up a special flood relief fund intended for the most affected areas. In such situations there are no ethnic division, and it is an important message to keep sending,” says Mladen Jelaca, CEO of ArcelorMittal Prijedor.
Speaking about the initiative, Alan Knight, general manager for Corporate Responsibility at ArcelorMittal explained: “This project is especially significant as it reflects the spirit of our multinational company and the Solidarity Holidays programme which engages people from different cultures who interact with colleagues from other countries and local communities other than their own. So far we’ve had some 40 international volunteers in Bosnia who have all contributed to this important initiative and we believe that such investment in these young people will bring long-term benefit for this community.”