primary mission is Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), specifically the
region in and around Medjugorje. Medjugorje is nestled between two
hills, Krizevac and Podbrdo. It is home to the parish of St.
James which serves the villages of Medjugorje, Sivric, Bijakovi,
Vionica, Miletina and Šurmanci. The name “Medjugorje”
in Croatian means “between the mountains”. Until the
early 1990s, most families survived by raising livestock, growing
tobacco and cultivating grapes for wine. We were introduced to this area
while on a religious pilgrimage to Medjugorje in July 1998. On
subsequent pilgrimages, we were being drawn into small acts of
charity as God presented the opportunities to us. In January 2000,
right before departing for Medjugorje again, we received a fax
from representatives of the village of Ravno, BiH through Patrick
and Nancy Latta in Medjugorje requesting help obtaining an
ambulance, medicines and medical supplies. See our “Origin of
St. Clare, Helper of the Poor” page for that
story. From this, St. Clare blossomed into the missions of the
current time. Before discussing our areas of current focus, it is
important to understand a little of the background of this region.
poor economy defines life in Bosnia-Herzegovina. All sectors of
the economy were hit hard by the wars, which occurred from 1992 to
1995. About 45% of the industrial plants, including about 75% of
the republic’s oil refineries, were destroyed, damaged, or
plundered. Post-war unemployment was 75%.
Dayton Accord of 1995 allowed some economic recovery to begin,
fueled by international aid, much of which has since been
redirected to other areas in the region or globally. Renewed
economic growth has come mainly within the construction, trade,
and services sectors, with traditional light industries also
showing some capacity for recovery. But the large government-owned
industrial conglomerates that dominated Bosnia’s pre-war
economic life operate at a fraction of their production capacity.
Under communism, these enterprises did not have to be profitable
and often where managed inefficiently. Privatization was seen as
the way to make them prosper or fail and, thus, cease to be a drag
on the economy in general. While comprehensive privatization
legislation is now in place, the political obstacles to
privatization remain formidable. Corrupt political leaders apply
regulations and taxes arbitrarily, which stymies the development
and growth of new businesses. The black market remains a
significant factor. The resultant 60% unemployment rate lingers up
to today in the region.
of the younger generation have left the small communities for the
city in hopes of achieving a better economic lifestyle, often
times leaving their elderly parents and family members behind. As
often happens, the very old and the very young suffer the most.
on a title to learn about each of our