Indira Kajosevic and Ivo Skoric
The Reconciliation and Culture Cooperative Network (RACCOON) assists members of the Balkan immigrant community including Albanians, Bosnians, Croatians, Macedonians, Montenegrins and Slovenians. It works with all the communities that must have been polarized by the Balkan Wars and fragmented along battle lines defined by ethnicity, religion and politics. For a lasting and meaningful peace, reconciliation is necessary and requires cooperation and communication between people who now belong to different or new nations. The organization runs support groups, promotes joint activities and provides direct services.
RACCOON was formed in 1997 to encourage dialogue and foster reconciliation. It aims to address barriers including lack of trust in institutions; high levels of domestic violence; psychological and social trauma associated with the terror in Yugoslavia; and economic and emotional insecurity caused by the threat of permanent war. Through internet projects and a community center in Long Island City, RACCOON focuses on building communication. Workshops on the healing process and inter-group conflict resolution emphasize nonviolent means of addressing culturally-based conflicts experienced by expatriates. RACCOON runs women’s support groups and provides counseling sessions for women dealing with domestic violence as well as referrals to shelters, translation and other services. RACCOON sponsors artists events and children’s activities.